By Nansasi Kasozi, Re!gnite Africa Youth Leader
Cancer is a disease that develops when normal body cells change and begin to grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way. In some types of cancer the uncontrolled growth causes a lump/swelling. In other types of cancer a large number of abnormal cells results for example in blood cancer.
There are many types of cancer treatment. The types of treatment that you have will depend on the type of cancer you have and how advanced it is. Some people with cancer will have only one treatment. But most people have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. You may also have immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy.
I am currently the chairperson of the Cancer Charity Foundation(CCF). It’s through this foundation that I intend to join the fight against cancer.
Since 2003, the Cancer Charity Foundation in Kyebando, Kampala has offered a solution to cancer patients who must undergo treatment far from home. CCF provides housing free of charge on a first come, first served basis to cancer patients and their Caretakers during their course of treatment. CCF not only reduces the financial burden but also provides a much needed supportive environment.
The foundation was formed in February 2008 through a strong nucleus of individuals who have been privately assisting cancer patients since 2003, having seen and experienced first-hand, wanted to make more positive impact on the treatment facilities and problems of cancer.
These individuals have been privately providing sustenance, transport and financial assistance to cancer patients and will continue doing so, along their voluntary work and commitments with the Cancer Charity Foundation.
The Foundation intends to establish a number of facilities in the country, initially that will prove quality support services to cancer patients and to these ends has already formed strong bonds with major activists involved with cancer, both in Uganda and internationally we are running one facility since 2008 in Kampala.
Since 2008, CCF has helped over 1,700 patients and their caretakers, providing them the much needed support in their battle against cancer. In a year, CCF helps to offer accommodation for up to 300 patients and their caretakers
Our mission at CCF is “GIVING HOPE THROUGH SUPPORT” i.e. to provide financial, spiritual and basic needs support to cancer patients. To increase general awareness about cancer and to become involved in any activity that can assist the Nation in fighting Cancer
So far, the Foundation has established strong bonds with major cancer treatment centers mainly Mulago Hospital Uganda Cancer Institute, Hospice Africa, Uganda Child Cancer Foundation, America Cancer institute, Uganda cancer society, Bless A Child Foundation and Ministry of Health. It is through these treatment centers that we connect with our patients and thereby being in a position to assist them in the best way we can.
The Cancer Charity Foundation has also been able to acquire a hostel accommodation for those patients undergoing aggressive chemotherapy but come from very far away (The Haven Hostel) in Kyebando. Here, the patients will be able to have a peaceful and desirable environment during this traumatic time. Nutritional rehabilitation and counseling are one of the benefits of the residents.
Through awareness programs in communities, universities, and schools, the foundation has met its mission which is extending general cancer awareness to the masses. During 2015, CCF partnered with Kampala International School, Bukoto to reach out to both students and staff through awareness talks about cancer and educating both about the importance of screening.
Strong bonds with other cancer-fighting organizations in and outside Uganda have also been established through attending cancer conferences. The Cancer Charity Foundation participated in drafting an Operations manual for all Cancer Patient Hostels under the Patient Support Group in conjunction with the Ministry Of Health and American Cancer Society.
Cancer kills! Cancer treatment in our nation is unaffordable for the lower strata of people. While the Cancer Institute in Mulago provides free medical treatment, patients and their attendants often have no place to live. These families end up sleeping on the verandah and corridors inside the hospital, in pitiable and unhygienic conditions.
Over the years of CCF’s involvement, we’ve also noted that the number patient in our care has increased thus the need for expansion and support for better care. The Uganda Cancer Institute is the main cancer referral centre in Uganda but also serves patients from Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, western Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Currently, the foundation needs to raise funds for renovations of the hostel, buying mattresses, beds and finishing an extension structure of the hostel.
We are planning a membership scheme through which we shall register any interested parties. The members will then pay a subscription fee of 10000shs each per month. The target is to get up to 200 members within the next five years. This money will then be invested into a profitable well thought out business to be able to have the home be self-sufficient.
In 10 years’ time, we hope to have expanded the home to a facility that can accommodate up to 200 patients at a time.
Leila Nassozi Kayondo is also the Chairperson of the Cancer Charity Foundation(CCF)