“Making cancer treatment a fearless journey”


Marcelle Ruth Friends, a cancer patient support group, led by patients at the Marcelle Ruth Cancer Center and Specialist Hospital in Lagos, is committed to raising awareness of cancer, encouraging early detection to save lives and eliminating the stigma associated with cancer. At the recent launch of the support group, they pledged to make cancer treatment a fearless journey, MARY NNAH reports

Marcelle Ruth Friends, a support group for cancer patients, in line with the World Cancer Day themes for 2022-24 which is #closethecaregap, aims to spread two important messages: early detection saves lives; so that everyone makes sure to have annual check-ups or go to a doctor as soon as they notice problems that persist and may be related to cancer; second, to remove the stigma associated with cancer, as it has been proven over time that many patients survive this journey and lead excellent lives.

A consultant hemato-oncologist, Dr. Modupe Elebute-Odunsi, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of the Marcelle Ruth Cancer Center and the specialist hospital in Lagos, during the inauguration of the support group, affirmed that coming together as a group that understands what individuals have been through on their journey can help improve the patient journey.

Beyond that, she explained that Marcelle Ruth Friends will provide support in terms of advocacy, raising awareness, helping to drive policy and helping the government understand what is happening in terms of HIV care. cancer – difficulties in accessing care and cost issues. takes when the majority of the care that is provided is in the private sector, but this, Elebute-Odunsi further established, comes at a price.

She insisted that helping the government understand that the sooner patients can access care, the more they can continue their care journey so they don’t have to fall because they run out of money, the longer patients can survive.

Expressing his enthusiasm for the newly established group and his gratitude to the patients who came together to form the group, Dr. Elebute-Odunsi admitted that his greatest desire has always been to start a support group for cancer patients in Marcelle Ruth Cancer Center. .

We have been operational for about 18 months and it has always been part of our vision to form a support group for our cancer patients as one of the reasons we came to relocate to Lagos is to stop medical tourism where people have to travel from the country to get treatment to international standards. So, we managed to achieve this, and today we are now seeing the fruits of our labors where the patients themselves have started this cancer support group which they have happily named, “Marcelle Ruth Friends “, she said.

“Although I had it in mind to start a cancer support group, patients have passed me by and started this group and the fact that we can treat them with all treatment modalities here at Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre, is where we provide special care.

The group, made up of patients undergoing treatments; some of whom have already completed their treatments and are now cancer survivors, along with their family and friends who support them on their journey, aims to help others understand that cancer treatment is a journey.

The group also intends to convey the message that cancer is not fatal for everyone and therefore is not the end of life. It is also to show that there is hope in terms of getting treatment and for the patients who will be part of the support group to see that other patients are doing well and above all that early detection saves a life. The group already hopes to change the narratives that cancer is a death sentence.

She expressed confidence that the cancer support group will grow to involve all patients, including those who come from different parts of the country, hoping that their return will also impact other relatives and friends in their various areas.

“One of the things we’ve seen here is that a lot of our patients come from across the country. We are in the gap for people who can access treatment here in Lagos if they live in Lagos and across the country and for patients who would normally go abroad and now stay in the country.

“We have also seen patients who have also returned and were already undergoing their treatment abroad, but when it becomes very expensive or they run out of options or they miss their families or for any other reason, they come back here.”

“The main role of the group is to support each other to bring positivity and eliminate sigma. Part of the theme and agenda for World Cancer Day, not just for this year but for the next three years, is closing the gaps in cancer care, which means increasing access to treatment , and the other, means removing the sigma, which is very important to what is happening today,” she added.

Dwelling on stigma, another deterrent to cancer treatment, Dr Elebute-Odunsi said that stigma is another major barrier to early detection and treatment of cancer, as many people are reluctant to come forward with their health.

The CEO of Marcelle Ruth Cancer Center insisted that stigma in terms of healthcare is a big problem in Nigeria, adding, “The problem we have with stigma is that when patients are diagnosed with cancer, they don’t want anyone else to know about it and it impacts their care. So to see this group formed by the patients themselves, for the patients is gratifying for us.

“What we have found since we started working in Nigeria is that there have been hardly any positive comments or stories about cancer care, so people have l ‘the feeling that once they’re diagnosed with cancer, they’re going to die – that’s the message they seem to be getting, even from the health care they have access to, there’s this background message that it’s a fatal problem and it’s not going to end well, so most of the time you don’t want to tell people that you have a terminal illness.

The group, she further pointed out, will also raise awareness about screening, adding, “there is absolutely no doubt that early detection saves lives; not just that, but early access to treatment and continuation of the treatment journey. It’s a way for the members of this group to help in the future to ensure that they have an impact not only on themselves and on the new patients who come in, but also on the patients of all the countries and to guide policy. I think for me it will be amazing to see that happen over the years to ”.

Speaking further, she called back. “We did a walk in March for Cancer Awareness to commemorate World Cancer Day and it has already helped raise awareness about getting tested after that walk we saw several people come in and get shouted at so this support group has different other platforms that they are working on.

“Besides Marcelle Ruth meeting international standards, at her premises on Victoria Island, she is also a one-stop-shop for cancer treatment. One can be diagnosed as it has all the labs and imaging modalities to make the diagnosis and once the diagnosis is made you can undergo chemotherapy, surgery and all other treatments you need to survive so that you don’t need to start. from one point to another to complete your treatment. Thus, the outcome and survival will be better because you will access treatment faster and continue your journey.

“So on the face of it, we would have a lot more survivals over time and that is part of the message and hopefully we will also help to eliminate this stigma once people continue to be well,” he said. -she adds.

The President of Marcelle Ruth Cancer Center and Specialist Hospital, Mr Bolaji Odunsi, said that apart from treating cancer, the hospital also does other things including general medicine and also calls to other specialists.

In terms of development, he said the hospital has been extremely fast over the past 18 months, adding, “It is by the grace of God, on the one hand, it is good news for us while on the other hand, it shows the lack of basic health care in Nigeria.

He did, however, reveal that the hospital hopes to expand to land near its current site in the near future.

Speaking on the motivation to start the group, Chairperson Marcelle Ruth Friends Godwin Ibe said: “It was something that happened by chance. As a group of friends, we never planned to meet just because we came for medicine, but we met and talked, and by the time we found out, a group was already form.


“Marcelle Ruth Friends will provide support in terms of advocacy, raising awareness, helping to drive policy and helping the government understand what is happening in terms of cancer care – the difficulties in accessing care and the cost issues when the majority of the care that is provided is in the private sector”


Comments are closed.