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‘Close the care gap’ this World Cancer Day

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

Today, Friday February 4, is World Cancer Day and this year’s theme is ‘Close the care gap’ which aims to recognise the power of knowledge and challenge assumptions.

Locally based charities are working hard every day of the year to bring knowledge, challenge assumptions, help, support and raise awareness.

To mark World Cancer Day the Chronicle asked some of these charities what their aims were for 2022.


Bosom Buddies

Looking towards 2022 Bosom Buddies aim is to be able to organise events once more so that their members, cancer survivors, can take part and enjoy them once again.

“People with cancer already have had to suffer personal lockdowns with their long illness, in hospital, for treatments, with chemotherapy sessions and radiotherapy so being able to enjoy an event again will be very welcome in 2022,” said Sonia Golt from the charity.

“Attending a fund raiser or our very popular annual fashion show is important. So our aim now is to make that happen for them and get them back on the catwalk, dolled up for the show.”

The show is scheduled for June 16 and it promises to be an amazing event after all the survivors and their families have gone through.

Bosom Buddies also aims to work together with all local cancer charities towards a more improved service is provided at the hospital.

“This we hope to do, by helping both monetarily, and by attending meetings with all cancer charities locally, to have a stronger input. We are all in the same boat so together we will be stronger,” said Ms Golt.

“Our charity welcomes cancer survivors, no matter what cancer they have suffered, because even though we started purely as a breast cancer charity, we later decided to welcome all cancer survivors.”

“Getting together as a group is therapeutic in itself and this is what we hope to do more off as soon as its permitted,” she added.

Breast Cancer Support Group Gibraltar

Mercy Posso sets out the objectives Breast Cancer Support Group Gibraltar has for 2022, which includes working with the Breast Screening Department and Lymphoedema Clinic to improve and enhance the facilities and services used by survivors before, during and after undergoing treatment.

“Working with the GHA to improve cancer facilities for all cancer patients,” she added.

“Support to our members through our Support Group meetings, which began in March. Anyone wishing to join us, please get in touch. We will happily send you this year's calendar of events and add you to our notice board.”

“Maintain and persist sharing awareness about matters related to breast cancer. Stress the importance of not missing an invitation to the appointment for a free mammogram which we get every two years as from the age of 40.”

“Early detection is critical to preventing women dying from breast cancer. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed and treated the bigger chances of survival.”

With this in mind she is asking ladies to ensure their details are up-to-date at the Primary Care Centre (PCC).

She added that often addresses are incomplete, or telephone numbers are old and the PCC has no way of contacting people.

As a result, many letters are being returned to the Radiology Department.

“We would like to thank the Radiology Dept for its continued support in enhancing the Breast Screening Programme,” she said.

“Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank, very importantly, the community of Gibraltar for their generosity, without their support the charity would not be able to make these important contributions.”

Cancer Relief Gibraltar

Rowena Wallace from the Cancer Relief Gibraltar told the Chronicle the centres aim is to ensure more people in the community know what support is available to them with regards to cancer.

“If you have questions about screening and prevention, if you or your loved one has recently been diagnosed with cancer or if cancer has had an impact on your life in any way, we are here to help,” she said.

“This year's World Cancer Day theme is #CloseTheCareGap, a focus on gaps in cancer care, identifying and addressing barriers in accessing care.”

“Cancer Relief are passionate about good cancer care, a champion for cancer causes and an advocate for patient care and family/carer support.”

“Working together with the GHA and other local cancer charities our predominant aim is to ensure every individual, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or lifestyle can find the support they need and access the appropriate care pathway for their experience. As World Cancer Day says, 'Never underestimate the power of cooperation and collective action’.”

She added the charity is here for anyone who has cancer or has been affected by cancer.

“There are so many ways we can support you, from a one-off chat to a more long-term relationship, it's your call and what we can provide depends on what you need from us,” she said.

“Give us a call on 20042392 or send us a message via www.cancerrelief.gi or our social media pages to talk to one of our team.”

Cancer Research UK Gibraltar

Giovi Vinales at Cancer Research UK Gibraltar his concerned how research into the disease has been impacted by Covid.

“Unfortunately, research has suffered tremendously in the last 24 months. Covid-19 has hit hard and slowed down our efforts to beat cancer,” she said.

On a local level she said the drop in their fundraising means they have had less money available for life-saving research.

“But the time has come to make a positive impact and we’re optimistic about the future,” she said.

“Cancer is really something that sadly touches us all so we will continue to contribute our little grain of sand to help eradicate this terrible disease from our lives.”

“I think we are now able to look at the future with some positivity and look forward to the time when we can engage with our loyal supporters to get this strand of life saving research back on track… so watch this space.”

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Gibraltar

Louis Baldachino from Pancreatic Cancer Awareness said the charity’s aim is to continue with its ongoing awareness campaign to improve the survival rate of pancreatic cancer by ensuring more people are diagnosed early and in time for surgery.

“We will continue to closely work with the GHA and especially with GP’s to promote awareness of this horrible disease which is so difficult to diagnose at an early stage due to its vague symptoms that can be mistaken for common health problems or conditions,” he said.

“Another very important factor is that public awareness of pancreatic cancer is also very low, statistics showing that half of all patients having not heard of the disease before their own diagnosis.”

“This is why one of our key aims is for more people to recognise the symptoms of pancreatic cancer they or a loved one may have and go to see a GP or doctor sooner. Our message to readers and the general public is to “get to know the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, it’s the one of fastest killing cancers with the lowest survival rate.”

Prostate Cancer Gibraltar

Prostate Cancer Gibraltar has a bold aim for 2022 and Chairman Derek Ghio said the charity aims to stop prostate cancer killing men in Gibraltar.

“Every year we highlight prostate cancer symptoms and advocates men over 50 years of age to check their Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA),” Mr Ghio.

“The charity vigorously campaigns for the betterment of the health service in Gibraltar for prostate cancer and prostate related diseases by supporting health professionals and the Gibraltar Health Authority.”

He added that Prostate Cancer Gibraltar will continue to purchase medical equipment in pursue of the early detection of prostate cancer.

“The charity always advocates that early detection saves lives.”


Research into Childhood Cancer (RICC)

RICC chairman Craig Sacarello thanked everyone for their support over the years.

“The last couple of years have been extremely trying for everyone with social functions taking a very necessary back step. This restricted the type of fundraising activities we could conduct, resulting in a reduction of funds raised over the period,” he said.

“A special mention needs to be made and thanks given to the businesses and individuals who have kindly raised funds of their own accord and made very generous donations to RICC.”

“With restrictions easing as a result of the success of the vaccination program, we are hopeful that we can hold some fundraising events this year and continue to search for a cure for childhood cancer.”

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