International access to cancer treatment can be challenging. Access to effective treatment in a time of war provides a an even more daunting challenge. The Life Raft Group currently has nine patient members from the Ukraine. In our February Newsletter, we published a story about the power of community that highlighted how one Ukrainian patient was helped by her “angel”.
Ironically, on the day that newsletter was published, Russia invaded the Ukraine. The fear and uncertainty in a time of war is overwhelming. The LRG reached out to our Ukrainian patients to let them know they are not alone, that we stand ready to help them receive lifesaving treatment once they are in a safe place. The responses brought the challenges of war to life.
One of our patients wrote:
“Thank you for support! It means a lot in such a scary time. As to us, we pass the Ukrainian border by car – my brother’s wife, me and our three children. We started our way in a first day of war from 7 am, without almost no stops, had been sleeping during two hours in a car after first day, second day we were in Mogilev-Podilsky, then my husband and brother stayed in Ukraine to help the Ukrainian army. And we were driving about 26 hours with little kids in the car and today we are finally in a safe place. My mom is in Berdyansk, our men are in Ukraine, my dear friends are in Ukraine. So much fear and tears. Hope for Ukraine.”
What can a small advocacy group do to help? We can reach out to our colleagues in nearby nations to arrange care, so that the cancer patients can have access to treatment. We can stay in touch where possible and offer emotional support. And we can make a statement that the only war globally that should be fought is a war on cancer and other diseases that impact the lives of so many families around the world.
It should not be about economics, disputed territories, or a desire for power, but about caring for the health and welfare of all cancer patients. We stand with Ukraine. We stand with cancer patients.