GFC has launched our first initiatives in Vietnam in 2012 where we partnered with the Breast Cancer Club (BCC) of Hanoi which was the only cancer support group in the country and Can Tho and Hue Oncology Hospitals to:
‣ Establish six new cancer support groups at the CanTho and Hue Oncology Hospitals, for breast, colorectal and general cancers.
‣ Work with all the groups to create basic cancer awareness materials and programs designed to educate the general population about cancer, decrease stigma, encourage early treatment, and increase survivorship.
‣ Network the Vietnamese support groups and hospitals with international affiliates for support, aid and training.
In 2014 we entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bright Future Foundation (BFF), founded in 2012 by the Vice-Minister of Health in Vietnam, Nguyen Thi Xuyen, MD/PhD, promising to work together on cancer awareness and patient support in Vietnam. We work closely with them on expanding the cancer support group network in Vietnam. Moreover, GFC participated in an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) sponsored Oncology Conference at Hue General Hospital, where we moderated a panel and presented on the efficacy of clinician led cancer support groups in the hospital setting.
As a co-organizer of the Southeast Asia Cancer Management and Support Group Summit held in NhaTrang, Vietnam, November 14-15, 2015, GFC partnered with the Bright Future Foundation, the Breast Cancer Society of Hue, and WECAN/Seattle to share ideas and programs surrounding cancer management, treatment and care, support, education, and advocacy. The first event of its kind in the region, the Summit brought over 170 participants representing 9 countries together to begin building a supportive cancer coalition.
We followed this up by co-hosting the 1st annual SE Asia Breast Cancer Symposium which was held in Hue, Vietnam in June 2016. Partnering with the Breast Cancer Society of Hue and Breast Surgery International, this 3 day event welcomed more than 200 participant including physicians, nurses, public health and patient representatives from Vietnam, Taiwan, Myanmar, Cambodia, the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Finland, India, Hong Kong and Sweden. GFC also hosted a special 1-1/2 day program designed to increase knowledge and capacity building for 65 Vietnamese patient advocates. We are gearing up to co-host the 2017 forum which will be held in Yangon, Myanmar, July 14-16.
In November 2016 GFC attended the World Cancer Congress which takes place every two years. Our founder, Carolyn Taylor produced a photo documentary piece, Facing Life: Voices of Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients, which opened a panel discussion around the quality of life for mBC patients the first morning of the conference. Also, the series of articles for the Lancet on Health, Equity and Women’s Cancers launched. GFC’s global advisory board member Dr. Ophira Ginsburg was the lead author on these very important papers, Carolyn is also a contributing author to the series.
WE CAN 4th East Africa Breast/Cervical Cancer Symposium, March 24-25, 2017
We were thrilled to be a member of the WE CAN team again this year for their 4th East African Breast and Cervical Cancer Symposium in Kigali, Rwanda. This three day symposium brought cancer advocates, cancer survivors, medical professionals and ministry representatives together to network, experience share, educate and inspire. Nine countries were represented this year. The team then headed to Butaro for a visit to Partner’s in Health’s Cancer Center of Excellence in rural Rwanda to learn about the programs being implemented and how they could translate to other centers around the region. We’ll be heading to Ukraine with the WE CAN team in October for a similar program with breast and cervical cancer advocates from countries in Eastern Europe.
Cancer Prevention Conference – Da Nang, Vietnam – April 26-28, 2017
We were very happy to accept an invitation to participate in a Cancer Prevention Conference in Da Nang City. Carolyn led an afternoon of presentations and discussions around the importance of building cancer support systems for patients. In an effort to maintain consistency, we brought the existing groups from Can Tho and Hue to help build the new groups in Da Nang.
Cancer Awareness Pilot Program in Vietnamese Factories
We have entered into a multi-disciplinary partnership with local affiliates in Vietnam, international and local cancer control experts, local health NGO’s and public sector facilities to deliver our cancer awareness program to factory workers. Implementation of the program will begin in 2017.
Peer to Peer Support Program
Given Vietnam’s high burden of breast cancer, and the lack of psychosocial support available, we will be introducing a peer-to-peer cancer support pilot program for breast cancer patients in two major oncology hospitals in Hue and Hanoi in July 2017. We are adapting the Woman to Woman gynecological cancer program created at Mt Sinai Hospital in NY. Through the program we are hoping to improve the quality of life for patients, decrease depression, distress and anxiety, increased treatment adherence, reduce distress levels, improve patient outcomes, increase cancer awareness for patients and their families and a reduce the burden on the hospital staff.
We will continue to refine and strengthen our cancer awareness and support group programs based on our lessons learned through our pilot activities in Vietnam. We will use these lessons to scale our impact on the number of lives positively changed to provide us with a stronger platform from which to replicate our dual tract strategy in other countries. Future countries to be considered for the post pilot phase of expansion are subject to opportunities and criteria based on strength of local partnering possibilities, need and available funding opportunities. Countries that are currently under consideration include: Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Guatemala, Brazil, and Myanmar. Additional countries will be considered where the need justifies engagement.