PEOPLE OF THE POINT: GERHARD ERASMUS
Meet this months People of the Point, Gerhard Erasmus. He has been part of Edit Microsystems for 6 ½ years and introduces blind people and people with low vision to technology and assistive devices to aid them with everyday life. He is also blind and makes extensive use of their technology. In South Africa, only 3% of blind people are employed and he is one of them.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I enjoy the training and support component most. It is very rewarding to know that unnecessary hurdles are removed by technology and services that is on offer. Having the opportunity to share my knowledge and the uniqueness of these devices with other blind and low vision persons all over Africa is a privilege.
Tell us something interesting about yourself
I attended Pioneer School for the Blind in Worcester. With the use of technology and the skills I acquired I was able to attend Tygerberg High School from the age of 16. I graduated from this mainstream school in 1999. Technology and assistive devices opened doors and introduced me to new opportunities. Today I use various cutting-edge solutions, including a Braille tablet and screen reading software to access online information sources. I read and write e-mails; surf the web and can perform most tasks my peers are able to perform on a computer.
I also make use of public transport between Durbanville and Sea Point. I am one of the first people to arrive at work and pride myself to always know of the latest developments.
What is your favourite hobby/ thing to do and why?
I love playing my guitar. I might not be good, but I do find it very relaxing. My wife is also teaching me how to bake. I enjoy the time we spend together in the kitchen; learning a new skill.
What is the coolest/ scariest/ craziest thing you have ever done?
Put money in Bitcoin.
Would you rather always be 10 minutes late or always be 20 minutes early?
I would prefer to be 20 minutes early and therefore start my journeys early too. I hate being rushed. Very few things in life are as important as they might seem. There is no reason to rush.
Would you rather be able to teleport anywhere or be able to read minds?
Well, since I’m blind, I’d have to vote for teleportation since self-driving cars aren’t developing fast enough! Mind reading would come in handy when I try to sell a product to a client. It will be good to know if I’m wasting somebody’s time when I am busy with a sales call.
Pizza, I’m not a wood-fire snob and therefore love all pizzas. I would eat it every day if I could.
Favourite movie/ TV show?
TV Show: Scrubs. It is the greatest television depiction of friendship of all time.
Movie: Casino or anything about the Mob. Casino’s only crime was that it was released after Goodfellas.
Favourite place to visit/ go on holiday?
Anywhere where my wife is.
Tulips. I like the shape and the texture of the leaves.
That’s all from Gerhard, have a great Movember and remember to enter this months competition, we would love to see your moustaches!
If you want to see someone specific as our next People Of The Point click here to nominate them.
Until next time, keep cool and remember that every drop counts!
The Point Team x
BREAST CANCER AWARENESS
As we approach October, the month internationally acclaimed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the question arises “Is the hype surrounding routine mammography justified?”
Let us look at the facts:
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide
- World Health Organization-International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO/IARC) reports increasing breast cancer trends worldwide
- breast cancer accounts for 1 in 10 new cancers overall and 23% of new female cancers
- 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime (Black South African women have a slightly lower incidence)
- From 35 – 65 years there is a 6-fold increase in the incidence of breast cancer
- Family history:
- young first-degree relative: 1 relative risk is doubled; 2 relatives 5x risk
- genetic: BRCA1 gene positive: lifetime risk 55%-65%; BRCA2 gene positive: lifetime risk 45%
As such early diagnosis means a potential cure. Late diagnosis results in potentially significant morbidity & mortality.
It is clear that the aim must be an early diagnosis and this is achievable by breast surveillance.
What is breast surveillance?
- Breast self-examination (monthly self-examination of breasts utilising a standard technique)
- Clinical breast examination (annual breast examination by a health care professional)
- Breast imaging
- Mammogram: best population-based method currently available. It should be noted that mammography will not detect all cancers
- Mammogram & ultrasound: probably higher sensitivity than mammogram alone
- Mammogram & tomosynthesis: tomosynthesis (also known as 3D mammography) is the new “buzzword” in breast imaging. Better sensitivity than mammography alone. Likely to become gold standard
- Ultrasound: poor sensitivity & specificity but useful as adjunct to mammogram & for young breasts with a low index of suspicion
- MRI: highest sensitivity of all modalities. Reserved for specific situations. This is related to cost, availability and required expertise. Generally reserved for high-risk group or where there are indeterminate findings on a mammogram.
In attempting to achieve early diagnosis it is not one of the above methods of surveillance but all three appropriately applied. At Bergman Ross and Partners Radiologists, we routinely include tomosynthesis and ultrasound with all mammograms
The current recommendation for breast imaging in South Africa:
(1) Screening mammography (to find disease prior to symptoms):
- annually all women >40 years and <70 years (unless higher than average risk)
- women >70 years can elect to have screening mammography.
- higher than average risk
(i) if family history: commence imaging at 5 yrs prior to the age that first-degree relative diagnosed if less than 40 yrs & at 40 yrs otherwise
(ii) annually in conjunction with MRI
(2) Diagnostic mammography:
- at time of suspicion/symptoms if >35yrs
A number of factors discourage women from having screening mammography. Amongst these are:
Mammograms being painful: with the advent of ergonomic improvements in mammography units and improved imaging techniques this factor is far less of a problem.
Radiation-induced cancer: although it is true that excessive radiation may induce cancer, the risk of the latter is far outweighed by the benefit of early detection of breast cancer. This is borne out by scientific research. In addition, state-of-the-art mammography units deliver far less radiation dose than those of previous eras.
Women should pay attention to their monthly cycle when booking mammograms, as certain times of the month will be uncomfortable when compressing the breast tissue.
There is a constant search for more acceptable methods of breast imaging with greater sensitivity & no or less radiation risk. A number of modalities are available, including thermography, electrical impedance, optical imaging, nuclear imaging, positron emission tomography. NONE OF THESE LISTED HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO COME ANYWHERE CLOSE TO MAMMOGRAPHY IN DIAGNOSTIC ABILITY. A negative result in these less sensitive methods may lull the patient into a false sense of security.
In summary, the risk of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime is sufficiently significant to warrant a greater awareness and to encourage the appropriate surveillance.
We provide mammogram services at:
N1 City Hospital 021 5951370
Kuils River Hospital 021 9006600
Sea Point. Suite 306 3rd Floor, The Point Centre. 76 Regent Road Phone 021 110 5777
*Copy supplied by Berman Ross & partners
Mandela Day 2018
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela
Every South African knows that the 18th of July is Mandela Day. The understanding is that we should spend 67 minutes doing something “good”, but what does it actually mean and how do we go about getting involved?
The idea of Mandela Day is to help someone less fortunate than yourself. It is a day that serves to bring people from around the world together to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity.
How can you get involved?
There are many ways, for each of us to contribute. It can be something as simple as donating food or some of your time, too much bigger gestures like education or mentoring and in some cases even, adoption. Each person is urged to give or do what they can for 67 minutes, with no task or gesture too big or too small.
Some great ideas include:
- Donating food to a shelter or making food parcels and handing them out.
- Giving clothing, toiletries or blankets to those in need.
- Offering your time by joining upliftment projects that paint, fix and better homes, shelters or hospitals.
If you aren’t a ‘hands-on’ person, you could simply make a phone call to your nearest shelter to find out what they need and have it delivered. There’s also the option of donating money to an established charity that can allocate your monetary contribution accordingly. Remember, the important part isn’t what you choose to do, it’s that you choose to do it.
#actionagainstpoverty is the goal for Madiba’s centenary, here are 5 ways to get involved:
Image Ref MandelaDay.com
Lastly, The Point will be hosting our own fantastic initiative by collecting clothing and toiletries for the men and women at The Haven Night Shelter in Napier Street, Greenpoint. Please keep an eye on our social platforms for the finer details and see how you can help us reach our target for the day!
We look forward to seeing the incredible ways you spent your time on Mandela Day 2018.
Till next time,
The Point Team x
VEGANISM FOR COMPLETE NEWBIES
So, you’ve decided to become a Vegan. Well, it is the latest trend all over the world and with all the delicious meals and health benefits you see online, how can you not be drawn into this way of life?!
Whilst we cannot statistically measure the increase of veganism in South Africa, it definitely has become evident that more and more people are turning to this way of living. In a survey done by The Vegan Society last year, it showed that Great Britain had seen a 360 % increase in veganism over the last decade.
Switching to a vegan lifestyle comes with a lot of questions and concerns. To help you with this, we’ve put together some information that can make this transition a little easier for you.
Where To Start?
Eating a vegan diet can be a healthy way to eat when your meals are full of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. You need a well-planned vegan diet to make sure you don’t miss out on essential nutrients or end up eating only processed vegan foods.
Make Vegetables the Stars of Your Meals. People often get hung up on what they can’t have on a plant-based diet, instead of what they can. But a great meal does not have to centre on meat. Veggie-packed meals are a winning choice all-around: veggies are full of vitamins (like A and K) and minerals (like potassium), they keep your calories in check and, because they are high in fibre, they can help you feel more satisfied.
Choose Whole Grains. Swapping out refined grains, such as white pasta and white bread, for whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, adds iron and B vitamins to a vegan diet (nutrients that are stripped out when the grains are refined). And, the extra fibre from whole grains will help keep you full and may even help you lose weight.
What Are The Differences Between Vegans and Vegetarians?
Chances are you understand vegetarians, and there is a pretty good chance you know a few people who eat this way.
Vegans follow a stricter diet than vegetarians. They don’t eat meat, fish, poultry or any other animal products and by-products, such as eggs, dairy products and honey.
Are There True Health Benefits To Veganism?
A plant-based diet consists of more than just fresh fruits and vegetables – Whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds also make up a substantial portion of this way of eating. Vegans rely heavily on all of these staples to receive all of their vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Vegans eat a significant amount of these healthy foods, so they have more access to vitamins B1, C, E, folic acid, magnesium, and iron. At the same time, their diets are low in cholesterol and saturated fats that can lead to adverse health consequences.
A plant-based vegan diet reduces many conditions that Westerners regularly experience such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Ischemic heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain Cancers
Why No Dairy?
All vegans (or at least true vegans) abstain from consuming dairy products. Some do so for nutritional reasons; others abstain for ethical reasons.
Those who do it for nutritional reasons cite a range of health problems related to the consumption of dairy products, including high cholesterol. Many also have a problem digesting lactose or have a blood-iron or diabetic problem related to the milk protein, casein. In addition to this, milk and cheese often contain small portions of undesirable hormones that are added to dairy cow feeds to increase production.
Those who abstain from consuming dairy products for ethical reasons also have a range of reasons for doing so. Some cite the poor treatment of dairy cows as the main reason for not consuming milk and cheese.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what Veganism is, here are a few tips we’d like to share with you before starting on this journey:
1. Start with an open mind
There’s no surer way to guarantee failure than to go into it with a bad attitude. Unfortunately, this is not something that’s easy for many folks to do. If you think that going vegan is going to be a punishment or that you won’t last, then it will be, and you won’t.
If cooking at home, give yourself extra time to cook, particularly at the beginning. For most people, designing meals 100% around vegetables is going to be a completely foreign concept and one that requires planning and extra time in the kitchen, even for a seasoned pro.
2. You’ll need a B12 supplement
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in animal foods, so you’ll want to stock up on a variety of B12-fortified foods as well as a B12 supplement. B12 keeps the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, so deficiencies can lead to tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss (the bad kind), nerve problems, and depression. To find out if you need to up your intake, we suggest you visit your GP and get some blood tests done.
3. Take a look at your kitchen cupboards
Is it full of meat-based condiments, dried pasta, rice, potatoes, and the like? If so, you’re not going to have a fun time trying to cook. Make sure your cupboards stay stocked with plenty of beans and whole grains, hearty leafy grains like kale, spinach, and other vegan-friendly sauces.
4. Avoid convenience and processed foods.
If all you live on as a vegan is a frozen pizza, veggie burger patties and ready-made meals, you will not be a happy eater. Meat substitutes are also often highly processed and loaded with sodium and preservatives, so read labels carefully.
Rather take a walk down the produce section. Going vegan is the perfect excuse to load up on all kinds of vegetables that you’ve never regularly eaten before.
5. If you’re going on a road trip, take food with you.
In fact, have snacks and emergency rations available to you at all times. It’s not that you’ll get hungrier as a vegan, it’s just that on the off-chance that you do end up missing lunch or forgetting it at home, your options as a vegan on the road (or in unfamiliar territory) are usually limited. Some fresh fruit, a good salad, or even trail mix can be a lifesaver in those situations.
6. Stay strong.
You won’t just wake up one morning magically vegan – it takes work, so it should also take time. The first few days might be tough, but once you get into the swing of things, it becomes easier and easier.
7. Educate others
The best way to help people and win them over is to teach by action, no lecturing. Bring some vegan food over or treat them to a vegan meal.
If you want to make the change and keep your friends while you’re at it, you have to realise that not everybody is at the same place in their life, and not everybody has the same value system as yours.
If you do choose to take on Veganism as your new lifestyle choice, we can only wish you the best of luck on your new journey. Just remember, don’t be too hard on yourself and take it one step at a time.
The Point Team x