About the charity
The cancer treatment foundation "The Gift of Life" is the first privately initiated cancer treatment support foundation in Estonia. Our mission is to support cancer patients (and their families) whose treatment is not considered sufficiently ‘cost-effective’ by the state at this point.
Cancer continues to be diagnosed a great deal in Estonia. Modern treatments are becoming more effective, but also more expensive. The national Health Insurance Fund has its own models and calculations to determine which kinds of treatment fit under the national insurance policy. However, very often drugs that are newer and not always as thoroughly tested do not fit in this category, even though they are vital to specific patients.
Cancer patients who are already unsure, afraid or even in pain shouldn't have to worry about where to get the money to pay for the drugs or treatment they need. The cancer treatment foundation is able to deal with each person and their treatment needs on a much more personal level than the state ever could.
We are a lifeline for cancer patients who do not fit into the lifeboat of national treatment policy. We want to help shape this policy so that it is more humane and more personal. Also, we want to ‘cure’ the mental ‘cancer’ of Estonian society – prejudice and fear concerning charities. By giving people the chance to help those who truly need it – to give the gift of life.
The idea behind the foundation came from the treatment story of renowned journalist Hille Tänavsuu. After fighting cancer for seven years, undergoing many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment and a number of operations, Hille was faced with a cruel choice in spring 2013: pay or die?
Her treatment options at major hospitals had been exhausted and the doctors were out of ideas. Her health was already deteriorating, and her son Toivo was afraid his mother might not make it.
However, there was a new lung cancer drug which nobody had used in Estonia and which wasn’t available at a discount. One box (60 pills) of Pfizer's Xalkor cost Hille 5400 euros - over five times Estonia's average monthly salary. Thanks to dozens of supporters, Hille managed to get her medication each month. It proved nothing short of a miracle for her health. In summer 2013, she witnessed the birth of her fifth grandchild.
Hille's fight with the terrible disease lasted until April 2014, when she finally surrendered. A few months before her death she and her son Toivo found that
there were hundreds of families in Estonia in a similar situation. This is how the idea of creating a foundation to support them came about.
Many people joined them on their mission. As we said before, in addition to helping patients we want to ‘cure’ Estonian society: create solidarity between people, shape the health care policy and offer an opportunity to give a priceless gift to those in need – the gift of life.
As of February 2016, the charity has collected close to 1 000 000 euros as donations and supported more than 75 patients aged between 20 and 83. With a help from around a hundred volunteers we are very actively collecting donations and promoting our mission in live events, such as summer festivals, concerts, sport events etc.