The Power of Pink campaign raised a whopping R553 778 in October last year, thanks to its pink punnet project in association with Pick n Pay and the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association.
“When we first launched the Power of Pink campaign with the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association (SAMFA) and Pick n Pay a decade ago, we had no idea of the power it would unleash through our incredible partners, nor the extent of the success that lay ahead,” said Stephné Jacobs, chairperson of the Board of Management of Reach for Recovery at a intimate celebration in Hyde Park, Johannesburg last week.
What is The Power of Pink campaign?
The Power of Pink campaign is aimed at raising awareness and funds for women with breast cancer. Every year, in October, pink punnets of mushrooms are sold at Pick n Pay stores. R1 of each punnet sold is donated to #Reach4Recovery’s Ditto Prosthesis Support Project.
“When the campaign first launched in October 2010, we raised R323 000,” Stephné reported. “Now, we consistently raise more than R500 000 a year.”
Total funds raised from all October pink punnett campaigns between 2010 and 2019: R5 177 628
Total number of financially-challenged women assisted with silicone prostheses (excluding 2019): 6 523
What a milestone!
“We are delighted to have achieved the R5- million mark in the 10th year of the Power of Pink campaign,” added SAMFA chairperson Ross Richardson. This Pink campaign is one of few breast cancer fundraising campaigns that support survivors who cannot afford reconstructions after mastectomies. SAMFA and Pick n Pay value our partnership with Reach for Recovery and are in awe of this 100% volunteer-based NGO and the extent of the incredible work that they do.”
Reach for Recovery milestones
Reach for Recovery South Africa consists of only 210 active voluntary members and these extraordinary women, breast cancer warriors themselves, achieved the following during 2019:
- Supported 5 923 patients in hospitals and continued visits thereafter.
- Handed out 3 013 care bags with support items and information leaflets to post-operative breast cancer patients in hospitals. (The production costs of the care bags and their content are also covered by the Power of Pink campaign.)
- Fitted 666 state patients who had a mastectomy and no medical aid with prostheses at no cost. (Breast prostheses are available in 3 skin tone colours as well as in different sizes so that the patient can have the correct size fitted. Reach for Recovery was able to purchase the prostheses at an average of R881 per unit compared to the average market price of R3 500 per unit.)
“We have done more than we thought we could,” said Stephné, “but there are still thousands of women in dire circumstances and in desperate need of our support. We have changed the lives of over 6 000 women so far. With the continued support of our partners, and all South Africans, there are so many more lives we can change!”
The link between mushrooms and breast cancer
International research continues to show a link between breast cancer and mushroom consumption. The Power of Pink campaign assists in increasing awareness of this.
Mushrooms are rich in anti-oxidants which are good for your immune system. They also contain selenium in quantities much higher than any other plant food. Selenium has been found to have an anti-cancer effect on prostate cancer in particular. These elements work together to protect the body against cancer by getting rid of free radicals and defending the body against invading organisms. Mushrooms are also a low energy dense food that can help lower calorie intake, which in turn prevents obesity, a proven risk for breast cancer.
Mushrooms contain phytochemicals that have been found to specifically suppress breast and prostate cancer:
- Mushrooms contain a fatty acid, namely conjugated linoleic acid, that has the ability to inhibit two enzymes, aromatase and 5-alpha-reductase, involved in these cancers.
- Many mammary tumours are hormone sensitive and the oestrogen hormone is a major factor in the development of breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women. Although the ovaries stop producing oestrogen to other cells, fat and breast cancer cells continue to do so.
- The enzyme α-Aromatase, responsible for the production of oestrogen, converts androgen to oestrogen, which in turn promotes the development of breast cancer in post-menopausal women. However, mushrooms contain conjugated linoleic acid which inhibits aromatase, and thus inhibits cancer. Aromatase has been linked to breast, ovarian, uterine and prostate cancers.
- The same applies to the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase which converts testosterone that plays a role in the development of prostate cancer. As in the case of aromatase, conjugated linoleic acid inhibits this enzyme, thus preventing or controlling prostate cancer.
- Tamoxifen is a widely used prescribed drug which works by competing with the oestrogen on the same receptor on the tumour cell and obstructs the active oestrogen. It is effective but has unpleasant side effects, especially during remission, and it cannot be taken forever. This is where mushrooms can act as a natural substitute for controlling the production of oestrogen.
Research behind the protective role of mushrooms
It was found that the occurrence of breast cancer in China was 5 times lower than in developed Western countries. Bearing other factors in mind, China is regarded as a world authority when it comes to mushroom consumption. In fact, it was the huge mushroom consumption per capita that sparked the research.
Leading groups researching the cancer-fighting potential of mushrooms are:
- The Beckman Institute at the City of Hope Cancer Centre in California under leadership of Professor Chen.
- The University of Australia in Sydney in collaboration with the medical faculty at the Zhejiang University in China.
More about Reach For Recovery:
Reach For Recovery is an international breast cancer support group. It is affiliated to the International Union Against Cancer (UICC). It is a non-medical programme designed to help women with breast cancer in their return to daily life. In South Africa, Reach For Recovery (RFR) is an autonomous non-profit organisation run by volunteers since the late 1960’s. Reach for Recovery is a breast cancer support organisation with a unique focus on breast cancer support and one of the only organisations that provide a patient support service on a national basis. It is built on a simple yet universal principle: that of one woman who has experienced breast cancer herself giving freely of her time and experience to assist and support another woman with breast cancer. Read more about Reach For Recovery here.
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