By Iris Pendergast, Director, American Cancer Society Global Relay For Life
As part of on-going support by the American Cancer Society to lower the cancer burden around the world, I recently had the opportunity to visit the Pediatric Cancer Unit at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka with American Cancer Society Global Relay For Life Volunteer Laura McCormick. We were in Zambia for a Relay For Life training. McCormick, a twenty-year Society volunteer, shared with me that, “going to the clinic was something that I’ve never seen before. Instead of hearing parents complain about the uncomfortable chair they had to sleep in overnight while spending the night with their child, parents here were grateful to just have a linoleum floor with a blanket, instead of dirt, to sleep on while in the hospital.”
The dire conditions at the hospital continue to be a priority for the Zambian Cancer Society and through the use of Relay For Life dollars, they slowly continue to improve. Through the Society's network of Global Relay For Life volunteers, we were able to bring clothes, toys and blankets to the children of the hospital, which were received with tears of joy and appreciation. These much needed resources continue to demonstrate how even the most basic of necessities, such as a warm blanket, continue to not be taken for granted in Zambia.
The partnership between the American Cancer Society and Zambian Cancer Society continues to run deep. Through our Global Health outreach programs, we continue to support the Zambian Cancer Society in growing their local fundraising programs and providing much needed mission support to reach its goals. Its latest goal, to open a location on the University Teaching Hospital campus for parents to stay, will be supported through the continued growth of the Global Relay For Life program and the volunteers in Zambia and around the world, as will a Cancer Resource Desk at the hospital that will have a huge impact, helping families navigate a complicated system and also provide information on the disease.
While the trip was only a few days in length, the experience was a reminder of the impact the American Cancer Society has in the fight against cancer. Each day my pride in being connected with the Society continues to grow, as we see how the work of our staff and volunteers are saving lives around the world through Relay For Life and its ability to change communities and give a voice to those who are in need.