As a new team member of The Max Foundation, I feel honored to work with an organization that advocates for patients dealing with blood cancer. This global health organization has helped thousands of patients get access to treatment, provide education and awareness, and bring a community together throughout the world.
In Guatemala, there are 14,200 new cases of cancer a year and from this amount 9,100 people die of cancer or 64.7%. Most of these diagnoses could have been prevented or better treated if diagnosed early. In Guatemala only the persons who have access to the national social security plan have free services and treatment, but poor quality and lack of medications or in most occasions. People who do not have social security have to pay for health services and for medications. As per statistics taken from Globocan 2008, the most common cancers in Guatemala are prostate, cervix, stomach, breast and lung cancers.
On a dry sunny Saturday in Addis Ababa, more than 100 people sat in an auditorium at the Black Lion Hospital, intently listening to a panel of experts. Representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health, doctors, local and international NGOs, and concerned citizens, gathered together for the first time, to discuss the challenges of treating cancer in the country. People in the audience were not ordinary people; they were people who were affected by the dreaded C word, cancer. Most of them, parents whose children were undergoing treatment, some of them cancer survivors themselves.
Un Paso Max, meaning “Un Paso Mas" (One More Step) is a fitting name for a group led by cancer survivors who are willing to take an extra step to help others. Un Paso Max is the name of the CML and GIST patient association in the Dominican Republic. One can trace the origins of this group to a small meeting in 2008. It only took a bit of encouragement and support on the part of The Max Foundation to unlock the passion of a handful of courageous survivors in Santo Domingo, and the seed of a patient association was planted.