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Last year the cancer treatment foundation raised a record 2.73 million euros and helped 300 people

Today the Gift of Life Foundation is celebrating its fifth anniversary. In five years the foundation has been built from scratch and become the largest charity in Estonia, having so far helped fund the treatment of 550 people and raised over 6.1 million euros.

"Cancer is a disease that doesn't pick and choose its victims," Toivo Tänavsuu, head of the foundation, explained. "It is one of the top causes of deaths in Estonia. Anyone can develop the disease. The cancer treatment foundation has become a movement that leaves no one without necessary treatment and hope. Thanks to our many donors and fans, we've managed to give all people in the foundation's target group hope, an opportunity to try out the best treatments, and a chance to live or even be cured. Today there are already around 550 people who've received help. This is the greatest reason for being thankful: the Estonian people are simply amazing. We have united Estonian society."

According to the CEO of the cancer treatment foundation, Katrin Kuusemäe, the Gift of Life has developed a great commitment to Estonian society. "In the past five years, we've been able to support all those in need," she says. "No one who has been harrowed by this awful disease has been stripped of final help and hope. All of them have had their unique reasons for wanting to live. I am endlessly thankful to all of our selfless volunteers who have set aside time from their families to be there and gather the donations of the amazing people of Estonia."

Dr. Kristiina Ojamaa, a member of the foundation's Council and oncologist at the East-Tallinn Central Hospital, finds that the cancer treatment foundation serves many roles in our society. "It gives everyone a chance to help because the foundation is there in situations that can affect all of us," she claims. "The foundation actually makes a change in people's lives – they live for longer, feel better, close ones have more hope, etc. The foundation has pointedly noted that the treatments funded by the Health Insurance Fund are not sufficient for everyone. We are not a rich country and we greatly struggle to fund medicine. In addition, the foundation helps people believe in scientific medicine and promotes exploring scientific treatment options. As a doctor, I see many shortcomings in our national health insurance system thanks to the foundation – the Gift of Life helps patients whose diseases have efficient cures that are not compensated by the system because the tumour is rare or the treatment is unusual."

"The activity and results of the Gift of Life Foundation very clearly show that Estonian politicians haven't managed to organise healthcare well enough to provide sufficient funding," oncologist Dr. Peeter Padrikpoints out. "At the same time, there are enough positive and kind people in society who find this field important and who have contributed their lives, time and money and will continue to do so. Thank you so much!"

In 2018 the foundation broke all records. The foundation grew by 2.73 million euros, which means two euros for each Estonian. We were able to support the treatment of nearly 300 people. In 2017 there was one-third as many people and 1 million euros less in donations. Altogether the cancer treatment foundation contributed 2.44 million euros to Estonians' health in 2018, this makes up around 7% of all resources used on anticancer drugs. Altogether more than 100,000 Estonian people and companies contributed to the foundation.

Our volunteers gathered donations at nearly 200 events and event-goers spontaneously contributed more than 211,000 euros.

According to Toivo Tänavsuu, the foundation aims to guarantee necessary help and hope to all those in need in 2019 as well. The foundation invites all Estonians to set up monthly donations, even if they are as little as one euro. Additionally, the foundation works to extend their mission to neighbouring countries where society offers plenty of opportunities and challenges to develop charity as a lifestyle yet people struggle to get a hold of anticancer drugs. The funds raised in Estonia are still only used to cure Estonians.

The foundation was registered on 5 February 2014 by journalist Hille Tänavsuu who was battling cancer, her son Toivo Tänavsuu, and Janek Mäggi. The foundation's Council comprises seven people, five of whom are top oncologists and haematologists from four different hospitals.

Today the foundation's volunteers, employees,supporters, fans and people who've received help are gathering in Tallinn for a thank-you gala to look back on the five years and think about future plans.

There are so many patients and families whose lives the foundation has influenced thus far. Here's a gallery showing just a fraction of them.  

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