Bonding with nursing staff, patients and a Reach For Recovery volunteer at Christiaan Barnard Hospital.

Tuesday was a much better day for me in the hospital after my lumpectomy surgery. I was free from the IV Drip contraption and my nausea had subsided dramatically. Besides enjoying the nursing staff in Ward 5B, I also met a wonderful patient, Regina and a Reach for Recovery, breast cancer support volunteer, Julia.

Up Close with the nursing staff in Ward 5B.

We had two awesome nurses caring for us. The one was Ongezwa Jonga, a beautiful young woman who lit up the room with her sunny personality. She wore bright pink lipstick that complemented her huge smile.

Whenever we had the BP routine, Ongezwa and I had great fun.

Ongezwa is going on study leave in June. She wants to become a staff nurse and then study further to become a nursing sister. When I told her she must aim high and work towards becoming a manager she said:

Yoh.. yoh.. me? I don't think so.  Being a manager looks like hard work. When I look at the managers here, they always looks so stressed and they are always in a hurry.  And some of them talk to themselves. They look so overwhelmed, as if the work is far too much. They make me scared. I also think I am too soft. People will take advantage of me. I need to look serious and I can't."

Ongezwa Jonga having fun

Ongezwa's words were accompanied by large gestures. You could see the 'hard work' because of the frowns and the lowered head. Her arms became heavy as the imaginary folders weighed them down. Her eyes rolled and her mouth parted or became pursed, depending on the heavy managerial task that made life so complicated.

We laughed at Ongezwa's spontaneous drama skit. No... no.. I protested. Look past the masks and don't get sucked in by our dramas. Study hard, stay committed, have integrity and reach for the stars. Hospitals need loving, caring professionals who can help patients recover holistically. It's not all about the machines and the medication. We are not Star Wars, I said.  Then she laughed, feeling almost relieved that her sunny personality is not only suited for staff nurses.

Then there was another nurse who was rather shy. She did not even want me to see her name. I would tease her and she would just smile. But when she saw me massaging myself with vaseline, she was in her element.

" I also love to use vaseline. I don't use all that expensive stuff that just smells nice but does nothing." Then the two of us had the ward in stitches with our "Ode to The Blue Seal Vaseline". After that my carer said there was no way I was going home. She loved my teasing and we enjoyed each other's company. When I left, I gave her the beautiful floral arrangement as a thank you gift.

Sister Lieske

Sister Lieske and me.

Sr Lieske, a registered nurse who works for Dr Jenny Edge, visited me every day, advising what I should be doing to help manage my wound. She is a soft-spoken joy, the ideal counsellor for us tender, vulnerable souls. She cheers one up with her warmth.  I really looked forward to her visits.

Meeting  Regina

After lunch, I strolled down the passage.  There was a row of empty private wards, except for one that was occupied by  Regina.  Regina had cateracts removed from her left eye this time round, she said. She was recovering and would leave that same evening.

In a heavy German accent, Regina explained that her whole world has become brighter since she had her first set of cataracts removed.

" I have white kitchen cupboards that I have to wipe down all the time to keep them looking white. When my cataracts were removed, I couldn't believe that the white cupboards were actually looking grey! I scrubbed them down the whole day. When my daughter phoned the afternoon and heard that I was still cleaning the cupboards, she wanted to know what was going on. I said the grey cupboards must go and I want my white cupboards back!"

Meeting Julia from Reach to Recovery

Julia Rabe, Reach for Recovery Volunteer in the ward with me.

Julia, a cancer survivor of 12 years was the highlight of my Tuesday experience. Julia is one of the Reach for Recovery volunteers who visit the hospital to visit new cancer patients. What a lovely soul! She shared her personal journey with cancer with such passion and inspiration, that my heart melted and my tears danced like naughty elves, waiting to run amok on my cheeks!

Julia has two sons whom she left at home to come and visit me! She was thrilled that she was able to meet me before I was discharged the next morning. We sat there, sharing our stories and filling ourselves with the awesome knowledge that there is hope; cancer can be beaten and cancer does not have to own our souls and our spirits. I was given a beautiful gift bag with valuable information on breast cancer care, letters I could use to pass on to my children and husband and a beautiful handmade 'breast' pillow and a sponge cruncher.


My spirit soared with gratitude and thanksgiving. We have no idea of how many angels are out there to brighten our lives. We have no excuse to be selfish and self-centred and we are obliged to pay forward whenever we can.

I had no idea that I would be at the receiving end of so much abundance in the hospital. This is what ubuntu is all about. May I never forget to pass on the baton of loving care and inspiration when it is my turn to do so.


Popular posts from this blog

It's been a year since I had breast cancer and life is good.

Packing for our Thailand trip

Our elephant trekking experience in Phuket.