The first day of the ANZ Bank’s leadership conference in Apia on Tuesday ended on a high note.
The Bank, known for its charitable connections with the Samoa Cancer Society, presented the charity’s Executive Officer, Shelley Burich, with a $20,000 donation.
“ANZ have been a massive support over the years, with technical assistance, human resources, and volunteers: they always have staff members available to help us; we are always so grateful,” said Mrs. Burich.
The work undertaken by the Society is paramount to the health of the Samoan people, as Cancer continues to place as the second highest cause of death on the Island.
“We do not have oncology services in the Hospital, a Cancer Unit, or trained nurses or doctors. The only service that is available in terms of ‘treating cancer’ is surgery.”
Samoa Cancer Society is currently the only organisation in Samoa that is doing anything to spread awareness of the disease.
Ms. Burich explains that this serves to increase the significance of the charity’s mission.
“Our role really is to play a big part in early detection, teaching people the signs and symptoms of cancer. Educating them to recognise what might be cancer and encouraging them to seek medical assistance and advice.”
Established in 1998, the group started as a voluntary committee of Doctors, growing into the incorporated Society we see today. They have recently developed their patient support department which is inundated with valuable work, due to the high prevalence of Cancer among the Samoan people.
Ms. Burich told the Samoa Observer that they, “see so many late presentations, so unfortunately many of the patients are diagnosed at a late stage, meaning our work is palliative and home care. With no official palliative care or hospice, it’s up to their families to look after them.”
At such a difficult time, the Society offers emotional support not only to the patient, but their entire family. She added that “we ourselves are reliant on donations just to keep our doors open, but what we can do is help people navigate the health system. We are that link between the health service and the patient.”
ANZ Bank’s donation will help the Society to continue their valued work here in Samoa. This particular donation is set aside for the printing of Breast Cancer brochures, which help patients to recognise symptoms and encourage them to seek help, increasing their chances of survival.
Breast Cancer is the most prevalent Cancer in women and numbers are rising. “We always strive to do a lot for Breast Cancer: we have ‘Pink-tober’, where we encourage people to wear pink to raise awareness.”
“The money coming to us today, will go a long way in supporting the society in terms of its operational costs, we have breast cancer brochures already, but we have run out of the English version. This donation will allow us to continue to circulate them.”