The foundation's operations are managed on a daily basis by our salaried CEO Katrin Kuusemäe, who works in co-operation with Toivo Tänavsuu, the founder of the foundation and a member of the board.
Decisions about support are made by the Council.
Volunteers from very different professions are of great assistance in
Katrin Kuusemäe, who took up leadership of "The Gift of Life" in March 2017, was born in Kohtla-Järve, went to school in Jõhvi and lived in Rakvere. For a long time she managed the Cancer Screening Foundation, which aimed to prevent cancer via screening, and organised the Estonian Reform Party's administrative work in Ida-Viru and Lääne-Viru counties.
Kuusemäe received her Master's degree in healthcare from University of Tartu and is currently doing her PhD in healthcare management. She will most likely defend her doctoral thesis on breast cancer in spring 2018.
"I have been sympathetic to the foundation's
activities ever since it was created. It was about time someone came up with
such a wonderful initiative in Estonia. What motivated me to apply for the
position of foundation's CEO was a chance to help those in need for real and do
something for our society. It is my purpose to make sure no Estonian cancer
patient is left without crucial help. I hope I can also shape Estonia's health
care policy through the foundation's activities," Katrin says.
Toivo Tänavsuu, the founder and director of the charity, works alongside the CEO.
By a decision of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Toivo was awarded the Order of the Estonian Red Cross, IV Class in 2018.
“Thanks to his selfless work, many cancer patients have obtained relief from their serious illness,” President Kersti Kaljulaid remarked. “His work in helping small children is particularly admirable.”
Estonian doctors and nurses have voted Toivo one of the top three "Medicine Influencers of the Year" via a questionnaire in the Äripäev newspaper’s medical supplement.
Toivo has worked as a journalist for 17 years, previously for the Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht and currently for the weekly Eesti Ekspress. He is a member of the congregation of St Olaf's Church.
"My mother Hille battled cancer for more than seven years. Even with her bad health she gained an extra year of life because she agreed to a ridiculously expensive course of treatment – 5400 euros. The Health Insurance Fund didn't consider covering it cost-effective, but thanks to kind-hearted supporters my mother gained an extra year of life and saw the birth of another grandchild. The foundation is the natural progression of her amazing story.
My mother's fight is over now, but hundreds of people are fighting the same problem around the country. We want to bring together warm hearts to give an invaluable gift to those battling cancer – hope and life," Toivo says.