Stories from MPCU: Immaculate’s story

January 14th, 2017

Making a Difference……….

In June this year, one of our Nurses went to the south western part of Uganda to carry out mentorship. While there she coincidentally met a patient in one of the hospitals who had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and a cancer called Kaposi’s Sarcoma in her mouth. Immaculate, a 22 year old young lady, was receiving treatment for the AIDS Virus, but there wasn’t treatment for her cancer. Nurse Florence organized for her to be transported to Kampala to the Uganda Cancer Institute where she could get chemotherapy for the cancer.

Immaculate, a 22 year old woman, was diagnosed with Kaposi's Sarcoma in her mouth

Immaculate, a 22 year old woman, was diagnosed with Kaposi’s Sarcoma in her mouth

Resources were mobilized and she was brought to the Uganda Cancer Institute, where she was worked up for chemotherapy. However she had travelled alone to the hospital, which was quite difficult since patients need a family member to provide care and support. The MPCU volunteers helped her settle in, got accommodation for her, made sure her meals were provided and escorted her for her treatment appointments.

Immaculate received treatment at the Uganda Cancer Institute

Immaculate received treatment at the Uganda Cancer Institute.

It was quite challenging for her being alone far away from home, with a language barrier and also dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy. However the volunteers have been a family to her, visiting and making sure she is as comfortable as possible.

After a two month stay, Immaculate was discharged from hospital with immediate signs of improvement.

After a two month stay, Immaculate was discharged from hospital with immediate signs of improvement.

After a two month stay in the hospital, Immaculate was discharged to go home, and the signs of improvement were already clearly visible. ͞She says, “Indeed you people are angels sent by God because you didn’t know me but you took good care of me as if I was part of your family. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have managed to go through the treatment, and I wouldn’t have come into the hospital. I want to go back home and continue with my work in the garden. Help other patients also.”

By Ivan Onapito (Volunteer and Pastoral Support Coordinator, MPCU)

Stories from MPCU: Bob’s story

January 14th, 2017

“…In all Things, give thanks…”

Bob is 19 and has had a lot of hardships in his young life. He lost his father when he was about five and his mother has struggled to raise him and his siblings. He currently has a melanoma of the eye and had just been referred to the palliative care team.

Bob, 19, is being treated for melanoma of the eye

Bob, 19, is being treated for melanoma of the eye

The Makerere Palliative Care Unit (MPCU) volunteers visited him one afternoon and they were able to take some pictures with him. The next day when I went in, he had a big smile on his face, asking me “where are my friends?”, meaning the volunteers, who had spent the previous afternoon with him. He also asked for copies of the photos.

Bob meeting the MPCU volunteers

Bob meeting the MPCU volunteers

One of his biggest frustrations is the slow process with regard to his treatment. “I don’t know what is happening, the doctors are not telling me much and I have not yet got treatment”. On Monday we went to see him together with the medical team who were discussing his management plan with the team on the ward. However he looked very sad and wasn’t in the mood to talk. I gave him the printed pictures and he smiled momentarily on seeing them, but I sensed the sadness. I promised I would see him after the clinical rounds later in the day.

He was sad that the sickness has confined him to hospital and he is not able to go to school. Since he lost his father, going to school has been a struggle and sometimes he has to do manual jobs to raise the money for his fees.

“I have struggled; even working as a porter so that I can go to school, but now this disease has put me down.”

This year he should have been sitting his final exams which would allow him to go to University and fulfil his ambitions of becoming an accountant so that he can take care of his mother and siblings. But he had to drop out of school last year when he became sick. Still he hasn’t given up hope of going back to school, and he hopes he can receive his treatment as soon as possible and get a discharge to go home.

What gives this bright young man hope and strength amidst the sickness, pain and frustration he is going through? Bob has a big blue bible by the side of his bed, which he reads a lot. Recently when one of the volunteers was spending time with him he opened a scripture in 1st Thessalonians. “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Bob with one of the volunteers

Bob with one of the volunteers

Sometimes he gets frustrated when things don’t seem to be moving with regard to his management and treatment but he always finds comfort in reading his bible. He sleeps by the window so he has a good view of the roadside. “When I get bored, I look out the window at the cars moving on the road until you people (volunteers) come.” He appreciates the visits, love and care from the palliative care team.

This is a young man who is in pain sometimes with a dangerous disease but can still afford to smile and hope…………

Ivan Onapito (Volunteer and Pastoral Support Coordinator, MPCU)

Visit to Makerere Palliative Care Unit

January 14th, 2017

In December 2016 two of our trustees, Liz and Michael Minton visited Uganda and the volunteer team at Makerere Palliative Care Unit. Here is a short report of their visit.

This was our 4th annual visit to meet the volunteers working with MPCU and led by Ivan and Liz Nabyre.

This year while Mulago hospital is being redeveloped the services have been relocated to three sites: Mulago, Kawempe,and Kiruddi hospitals. So the volunteers have been divided to produce three teams. We all met at Kiruddi for a morning reunion where we heard the experiences of the teams. There were, as ever, some complex patient problems where the volunteers had made valuable supportive relationships. It has been a difficult year for some because of the new arrangements and working with new staff at Kiruddi hospital which had only been opened this year.

The volunteers in good spirits.

The volunteers in good spirits.

We had the opportunity to join Liz Nabirye and see the new patient and family information material that the American Cancer Society have developed over the last year. Both Liz and Ivan have contributed to the project. This will be launched in February 2017.

Information Nurse Liz Nabirye holding some grasshoppers

Information Nurse Liz Nabirye holding some grasshoppers

A volunteer pig farm project to raise funds for their work has commenced with the building of the styes. 2017 will be a challenging year for the MPCU and volunteers with this new arrangement and the additional impact of there being no functioning radiotherapy service in Uganda (patients have to travel to Nairobi).

Read our Annual Report for 2016

January 14th, 2017
We continue to support the work done by our Ugandan partner, the Makerere Palliative Care Unit (MPCU) in Kampala. The projects are integral to MPCU, and the teams and individuals continue to develop their skills and understanding of cancer and its implications for patients and their families.

Particular challenges have arisen during this year, with the redevelopment of the Mulago site involving temporary relocation of all services to other hospitals in the Kampala area, and the irrevocable breakdown of the radiotherapy machine which has significant impact on patient treatments. The team is adjusting to the new realities, and we are very keen to help and support them in any way that we can to provide a continuing service to cancer patients and their carers.

The local situation has meant that we have not yet been able to progress our wider objectives and our strategic plan as envisaged. However, we have continued to maintain contact with MPCU and also widen our network of contacts with other likeminded UK organisations working in Uganda, for instance through Uganda Networks, a network set up by the Ugandan Christian Churches, specifically for this purpose. Although this may not drive out any positive projects as such, we have had significant support from Afrinspire in validating and refining a recent proposal from MPCU and would like to acknowledge their invaluable help.

Fundraising has continued through the year, with some key events undertaken by individuals, and importantly the continuing link with BOAT, an Oxford charity supporting our projects. We are very grateful for the support from all our donors and hope they will continue to support us in the future. Next year we will focus on the implementation of the strategic plan, with fundraising as a key objective, and also to raise wider awareness and involve more donors on a regular basis with the charity. As always many different people and organisations have generously supported us and nothing at all would happen without this.

I hope this report will give you an insight into the work that we are trying to do and the use we are making of your generous help, so another big thank you to everyone; please do keep on supporting us.

You can download the Annual Report 2016 in full.

Christine Whitehouse
Uganda Cancer Trust UK

Support Katy and Alex running the Uganda Marathon

March 15th, 2016

The second Uganda International Marathon takes place on 5th June. Last year, local student Edward Mukasa raised £645 for Uganda Cancer Trust UK running the 10k race. This year we have 2 enthusiastic runners, Katy Budge and Alex Bennett, signed up for the full Uganda Marathon in June and getting very excited about the prospect. They are aiming to raise at least £1500 each for Uganda Cancer Trust UK. Read all about it and show your support on their JustGiving page