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In their own words: Tygerberg patients share their stories

Tygerberg Hospital and Project Flamingo catch-up surgery provided hope to 14 women living with breast cancer.

In a joint effort to close the breast cancer care gap, Project Flamingo and the dedicated medical and nursing team at Tygerberg Hospital volunteered their time this weekend (19 August 2023) to perform life-changing surgeries on 14 women living with breast cancer. This was the second weekend of catch-up surgery following seven patients who had their surgeries at the hospital on Saturday, 8 July 2023.

Tygerberg Hospital Surgeon, Dr Ilna Conradie says the challenges within our health system are numerous and often difficult to overcome. “I can, however, change one patient’s experience of health care, and I can make a difference in one person’s life. This is what motivates me to work here and to drive this project at our hospital.”

Several women who benefitted from this weekend’s surgeries, deeply appreciate the access to timely treatment and heartfelt support offered to them. Watch a video here.

What our patients say:

Charlene Fredericks was one of the breast cancer patients on the Project Flamingo surgery list.
Charlene Fredericks

Charlene Fredericks (49) from Ravensmead is a medical receptionist and a proud mom of one daughter and two grandchildren. She started her chemotherapy at the end of January. ”Don’t take your health for granted, especially us as women. Take care of yourself by going for your regular checkups. Trust your instincts even if you must go for a second opinion. We have so much to live for. We are survivors!”

Susanna Gioniotis was one of the breast cancer patients on the Project Flamingo surgery list.
Susanna Gioniotis

Susanna Gianiotis (48), a chef from Ruyterwacht, discovered a lump in her breast end of February and 1 June 2023 she received her results. “At first, I was overwhelmed. Now my objective is to encourage others and share my journey as this will not beat me. I see it as a life-changing experience.”

Vanessa Stephanus was one of the breast cancer patients on the Project Flamingo surgery list.
Vanessa Stephanus

Vanessa Stephanus (61) from Uitsig, who’s married with two children and two grandchildren has a family history of breast cancer. In April 2023, her tumor was removed and sent for further tests. “I was at work when the doctor called me with the results. I want people to look differently at cancer and not stigmatize it as a death sentence. Always remain positive and focus on your recovery and not people’s opinions. It’s not the end of the world but a new journey,” says Mrs Stephanus.

Elaine Bergman (65), from Blackheath, benefitted from last month’s surgery and had her left breast removed. She discovered a lump in her left breast in 2022 and had since undergone various tests. She had her very first operation on 2 May 2023 to remove the tumor. “The care I received from the staff was so amazing. Before I went to the theatre, the staff came to talk to me, and by the time I had to go in, I wasn’t afraid anymore because I knew, I was in good hands. I feel great after the operation and my scar is healing very nicely. Thank you, Tygerberg Hospital, Project Flamingo, staff and sponsors,” says Mrs Bergman.


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