The Hille Tänavsuu cancer treatment foundation "The
Gift of Life" is a privately initiated cancer treatment support foundation
whose mission is to help cancer patients whose treatment is not considered
sufficiently ‘cost-effective’ by the state at this point.
The foundation supports cancer patients primarily financially. We help people
purchase modern medications (or treatment procedures) essential to them, giving
them hope, a chance to live longer or even fully recover.
Cancer continues to be diagnosed a great deal in Estonia.
Modern treatments are becoming more effective, but also more expensive. The
Health Insurance Fund has its own formulas to determine which kinds of treatment
fit under the national insurance policy. This leaves many new treatments unfit
The foundation began with the case of journalist Hille Tänavsuu. Hille was
diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and struggled with her serious illness for years.
She received all kinds of treatment in Estonian hospitals that the Health
Insurance Fund compensates. This was the case until 2013, when the state
medical system was forced to give up: all treatments covered by the Health
Insurance Fund had run out.
However, there was still one drug which nobody had used in
Estonia. It was not covered by the Health Insurance Fund. The box of the drug
(60 pills) cost Hille more than 5000 euros each month, which was about five
times more than the average wage in Estonia at the time. She faced a choice:
pay or die. But she did not give up.
Thanks to dozens of supporters – both friends and relatives and complete
strangers as well – Hille managed to get her medication each month. It proved
nothing short of a miracle for her health. Many of Hille's dreams came true and
in summer 2013 she saw the birth of her fifth grandchild. The drug gave her one extra year of life. This was one of the best years spent
together for the Tänavsuu family. Time proved to be invaluable.
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 dozens of families in Estonia in a similar situation, where a
family member cannot afford a treatment they desperately need. This is how the
idea of creating a foundation to support them came about. Janek
Mäggi joined in as a co-founder of the foundation.
Hille Tänavsuu Cancer Treatment Foundation "The Gift of Life"
launched in February 2014. Many people joined them on the mission of gifting life.
Besides helping cancer patients the foundation also aims to 'treat' Estonian
society by promoting donation as a lifestyle and encouraging Estonian people to
fight for the lives of their own people in need.
By 2023 'The Gift of Life' has grown to become one of the biggest charities in Estonia: we have supported more than 2000 people and raised over 20 million euros in donations. Almost everyone who has contacted us and is part of the foundation's target group, has received assistance.
The people who have been given one more chance are 5-88 years old and reside
all over Estonia. Several people, who were as if 'written off' by the state,
have fully recovered and dozens have spent a fulfilling year or even more with
their loved ones thanks to the foundation's support.
The foundation cannot guarantee longer life to anyone, but we can maintain hope
and also give a chance to try out the best treatment, live or recover.