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Official Launch of Marlene Van Staden Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation

Marlene’s foundation encourages genetic cancer testing

The Marlene van Staden Cancer Foundation was launched on Saturday 18 November in Modimolle with the aim of creating awareness around hereditary and familial cancer.

Van Staden, former Mayor of the Modimolle-Mookgophong Municipality, passed away in June after breast cancer was diagnosed a year before. She tested positive for a mutation on the BRCA-1 gene, a hereditary condition that affected several of her family members.

After the 42-year-old Van Staden’s untimely death, her family decided that there was a need to create awareness around this mutation. Many people know that cancer is prevalent in their families, but do not realize that genetic testing can give them answers and ensure that they act in time to prevent serious illness and death.

“We want the term previvor to become as common as a survivor. Previvor means someone has been proactive in their health decisions,” explained Marietjie Jacobs, Marlene’s aunt, who was also affected by the gene mutation.

Actress Angelina Jolie is a celebrity previvor, who after testing positive for the BRCA gene mutation, opted to have a hysterectomy and mastectomy to ensure that she did not develop the same cancer that led to her mother’s death.

“People are afraid to talk about cancer and how it affected them or their families. We want to encourage them to be open and discuss it,” said Jacobs.

Dr. Marthinus Heystek, another family member, spoke on the importance of testing if there is a family history of cancer, for the sake of one’s children.

“At first I did not see the need to get tested, but realised that I have a daughter and two granddaughters who will be affected. If I’m clear, they will not be impacted, but if I tested positive, they need to know of their increased risk to develop cancer.”

Testing positive for the BRCA-1 mutation increases a person’s risk by 60% to 80% for some types of cancer.

“Men are not safe — they can also develop breast cancer,” warned Heystek.

He explained that creating awareness in the medical community is important as genetic testing is relatively new and some doctors had no training regarding this.

Julie Malan, an experienced genetic counselor at Ampath and the Femina Clinic in Pretoria, spoke on the importance of assisting families if a member tested positive.

“A positive test result affects everyone. Those who have a personal history of breast cancer, developed pre-menopausal cancer before the age of 45, or had more than one generation with breast or ovarian cancer, should consider testing,” she advised.

The foundation aims to create awareness regarding genetic testing for BRCA mutations, provide both financial and emotional support to those who need to test and support breast cancer patients as well as bereaved children and family members of victims. They also aim to create a multi-disciplinary team of experts to support families with inherited harmful variants of the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes.

The foundation is a non-profit organization and will also be registered as a public benefit organization. It will be able to provide donors with a Section 18 A tax certificate.

The foundation has set its first goal of collecting R250 000 and this be allocated towards genetic testing.

For more information, phone tel. 083 287 4144

Fundraising at the Powerade Marakele Marathon

The Foundation would like to thank Bernadette Wagenhauser, Beverley Buchholz and Maliza van Coller who ran the Powerade Marakele Marathon on 3 March 2024 and raised more than R10000.00 amongst them in aid of AngelM!!

Bernadette Wagenhauser

Cancer is a devastating disease that affects the lives of so many, young and old. Having lost my mom to cancer and knowing many people who are suffering with the disease, it is amazing to know that there is a way that we can try to eliminate the suffering caused, by getting genetic testing done, to see if you have a possibility of being diagnosed with the disease. Marlene was a true fighter and such a charismatic person who lived and supported everyone around her. Help me make a tiny difference by raising funds to create even more awareness for a disease that can shatter lives.

Beverly Buchholz

Being a family friend of Marlene van Staden and a co worker and friend of her sister has encouraged me to help this foundation to spread the news and information about genetic testing for breast cancer. I believe if more people are aware of their genetics we can have more previvors of breasts cancer. Previvor is a term that should be used more than survivor because if we know that we have a gene and that we could get breast cancer why would we wait and see what happens if we can act now and help determine our outcome.

Please support me to raise funds through running for this cause and lets help woman act now before getting breast cancer.

Maliza Van Coller

Lets help woman be PREVIVORS of breast cancer.
The aim is to create awareness about genetic testing for prevention of breast cancer. Women who tests positive for the BRCA gene have a 85% chance of getting breast cancer but by taking the correct precautions can save lives
Marlene van Staden Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation is a organization that wants to create awareness about the benefits of genetic testing as well as to provide support, education, and resources to those affected.
By donating to this project, you can make a change in someone’s life and a difference in the lives of those battling with breast cancer.
For more information