To care and empower cancer patients to fulfill their survivorship potential while ending inequality in cancer care.
In 2003, I lost a loved one to cancer. It was heart-breaking. Driven by the grief of my loss, I became inspired to support cancer patients regardless of the uncertainty that followed a pursuit in a career in oncology.
Following my initial trepidation, I fervently prayed and meditated before taking a few courses in cancer and palliative care while consulting medical colleagues and mentors in Nigeria and abroad.
Most reckoned a great idea, and a few had reservations.
During my National Youth Service at Akwa Ibom, South-east Nigeria, I was rejected from enrollment on that bases that I was two-weeks short of completing the mandatory medical horsemanship at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
Relieved by the callback, I left Akwa Ibom by commercial transport.
During the reckless bumpy drive down the road in a town called Nsit-Ubium, I had an epiphany: the idea was to create a non-governmental organization (NGO) that helps cancer patients, touches their lives, and relieves them of their pain.
Upon realization of the idea, I remember calling a few people from the bus. My mum, my first point-of-call, became excited, and couldn’t wait for me to get home and start planning.
To date, my mum still plans and supports Sebeccly. Thanks mum.
On my return to Lagos, I discussed the idea of the NGO with my colleagues at LUTH.
Tola ladejobi, Tolue Isiekwenagbum, and Babatunde Salako believed in this idea. We began plans for NGO programs, activities, and fundraising.
We formalized and registered the NGO, and how to organize, plan, and execute NGO related activities.
My best friend, Banke, solved the name problem we were experiencing with the NGO. She formed it from my loved one’s name: “Se” from Seun; “Becc” from Rebecca; and “Ly” added to make it sound funky.
In 2004, I met late Dr. Kofo Orija, the founder of the Bloom Cancer Care and Support Centre, at a women’s gathering involving breast cancer care.
Subsequently, She became my mentor and showed me how to gain access to her network of cancer experts and advocates. I am eternally grateful to her.
Among the numerous people she introduced me to, I was particularly privileged to meet Professor J.T.K Duncan, the Head of Department of Radiation Oncology at EKO Hospital, my papa, and a pleasant gentleman. I shadowed Professor Duncan at EKO Hospital for three months and enjoyed every bit of the experience of working with cancer patients. Following this experience, I decided to further pursue a career in Radiation Oncology and palliative care.
I started my residency program in the Department of Radiation Oncology at LUTH in January 2008 and completed in2013.
My daily interaction with breast cancer patients, which enables us to understand cancer care patients’ challenges, needs, wishes, and frustration channeled into sebeccly.
Their feedback has provided an opportunity to offer solutions to these challenges, and to mitigate ensuing hardship.
Having remained a counselor for young ladies living with breast cancer, the number of patients who visit me for a consultation has increased steadily.
My Vision for Sebeccly is to reach more women living with breast cancer and create awareness for cancer care in Nigeria.
We aim to achieve this through our numerous initiatives, which include:
- access to cancer care schemes that provide anti-cancer drugs;
- the “stamp out cancer” campaign that delivers cancer information services and screening to the public;
- the best reporter on cancer awareness and advocacy award
- Early Career Cancer Research grant; and
- Best student in SSCE(ISL) are initiatives to promote excellence amongst professionals.
I recall during the early stages of development that Dr. Dorothy Esangbedo said to me “a dream without a vision, mission and action would continue to be a dream”. With this in mind, I can proudly say that sebeccly has evolved from a dream to a brilliant initiative that continues to save lives.
Thank you for reading Sebeccly’s story.
Dr. Omolola Salako.
Founder, Sebeccly Cancer Care.