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When I left Ethiopia in the early 80s, I was old enough to understand what is going on in the country where I was born and brought up; regarding the life of ordinary Ethiopians, their health, day-to-day activities, earnings, hope, etc. A well known complaint about health was either a person was suffering from gastritis or in the worst case could be chronic diseases like tuberculosis, malaria,… but not cancer. I don’t mean that cancer was a non-existence disease in the country but I never heard about it as a killer disease or about its treatment.

Sadly there is still a lack of awareness about cancer in Ethiopia compared to other chronic diseases that every one talked about. Unfortunately, when people are ill they prefer to go for traditional medicine rather than visiting a local clinic. The reason could be the availability of traditional healers in every village and can be accessed without appointment or the healers’ reputation that was gained from past activities. Therefore, those patients who are unaware die without visiting their local clinics, their town’s hospital and even without getting any help or comfort from the right health carer.

At the beginning of 2010 here in the UK, I was taken ill and diagnosed with cancer, Lymphoma grade 2. I went through 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 2 cycles of retuximab. At the end of July 2010 I finished all my medication and thank God I am enjoying a good health once again.

While I was still under medication, my husband said to me ‘once you get better we will find a way of helping cancer sufferers in Ethiopia’. We talked about it on a regular basis, discussed options and searched for information. A friend introduced us with a doctor in charge of Oncology Unit at Black Lion Hospital (BLH), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Via email we learnt all the needs of the Oncology Unit.

December 2010, after regaining my strength and felt fit to travel, my husband and I went to Ethiopia to visit families and friends. We had the opportunity to meet the doctor in charge whom we corresponded with and visit the Oncology Unit at BLH. He took us around the cancer centre showing us rooms without appropriate diagnostic and treatment equipments, briefed us what the centre is lacking in order to treat those suffering from cancer; and informed us that Black Lion is the only referral Hospital in the country that serves many million patients all round the year. The Oncology Unit is looking after 6000 cancer patients with only 4 specialist doctors, one cobalt machine, no CT Simulator and so on. Every year the unit takes at least 2000 new diagnosed patients but the waiting time to start treatment is more than 6 months. In the meant time 14% of them may die without any help or comfort.

Although we remember that Cholera and HIV swept many people from the face of Ethiopia we never expected that cancer victims’ case will overwhelm us like that. Hearing the above information was painful for us. We were devastated and saddened to see how the doctors were limited in their effort to help patients due to lack of treatment and resources.

After we came back to London the assignment was given to me to do some thing about it. Since I was a victim of cancer and a witness of the scarcity of the treatment machine in BLH cancer centre, I have tried to walk all possible avenues to find an opening that could make a difference. I got help from a friend in searching for suppliers of the medical equipment, its cost, its transportation, including its enhancement. His search revealed that £1, 000,000 is needed, inclusive all requirements to deliver the life saving medical equipment to Oncology Unit at BLH.

Well I do not have £1, 000,000 in my account, but I have the passion to help, to walk with the cancer sufferers in what they are going through. Then I discussed the issue with my close friends who shared my passion and we decided to set a charity and named it “Battling Cancer in Ethiopia”.

Battling Cancer in Ethiopia (BCE) is a newly registered charity (Charity number 1146052) in the UK.  Its main purpose is the relief of sickness, to preserve and protect good health for those who are walking under the shadow of death due to lack of medical equipment for treatment in Ethiopia. BCE is committed to spread awareness and raise funds to buy the machine for the Oncology Unit at BLH.  BCE’s aim is to challenge the public to donate and participate for good cause and in saving lives, to give second chance to cancer sufferers and to equip the Oncology Unit with the resources needed for treating cancer.

It is evident that BCE can do nothing by itself without the public/your participation or support; BCE needs grant, funds, sponsors and so on to fulfil its purposes. BCE plans fund raising events so that it will accomplish its target-to collect the required £1, 000,000 towards the purchase of CT Simulator for Oncology unit that is a-must-have medical treatment for the cancer patients.

Dear readers, I personally appeal to you to take part in this charity to make a difference in cancer sufferers’ life. To purchase the above equipment within a year, it needs only 8000 of us to commit to donate only £120 each/either as one-off-donation or in a few months instalment. Will you be one of the 8000 people willing to make a difference? Would you like to see/hear that the cancer victims’ life is extended to live with their family as parents to their children, good wives/husbands to their spouses, sisters, brothers and …? Would you like to speed up the treatment time for cancer patients, the waiting time is shortened and the shadow of death/cancer is battled?

I Thank God for answering every ones prayer and good wish for my well being again. As a survivor, I can testify to you how I went through suffering and what it means to be relieved from pain with the help of excellent medical care. So would you like to hear from cancer sufferers’ from back home about their restored health and the benefit of the medical equipment you have sent? If so please donate generously and meet their needs as soon as possible.

Thank you for stretching your hands to donate in these difficult times which are caused by the global economic pressure. I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you and God bless you abundantly to those who are already committed and set monthly standing orders or cash payments.  May God meet your need in His special ways.

Tsige Birru-Benti (Mrs)

About BCE

BCE is a charity committed to raising funds to buy life saving medical equipment for the Black Lion Hospital Cancer Centre in Ethiopia...


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hand1 Your valuable donation will help buy medical equipment that will save lives and support our battle against cancer in Ethiopia..