SPARC grant awardees - Meet Runcie from Nigeria

Runcie C.W. Chidebe

Runcie C.W. Chidebe, 30 years old, is the Executive Director of the Health & Psychological Trust Centre in Nigeria, one of the 20 organisations around the world receiving a SPARC grant - an initiative launched in partnership with Pfizer - to address the issues facing women with metastatic breast cancer in their own country.

What made you want to participate in the SPARC MBC Challenge?

There is a great percentage of women battling with advanced breast cancer in Nigeria, hence, I was optimistic that the SPARC MBC challenge would provide us with a platform to give a voice to these voiceless, to help some of them who have been abandoned in hospital wards and to support their caregivers/families.

Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Two amazing Nigerian women have inspired me greatly. First, Prof. Dora Akunyili, who fought counterfeit drugs in Nigeria and assisted so much in the access to pain relief drugs – like morphine – for palliative and hospice care. Second, Mrs. Khadijat Banwo-Fatai, a widow, breast cancer survivor, passionate social worker and project supervisor at Project PINK BLUE. Opening up to people by sharing her cancer survivor’s story made a lot of difference in our work in Abuja and in our SPARC project.

What do you like the most about your work?

I feel so fulfilled when I am able to link cancer survivors with patients for them to share smiles and motivate each other through this journey.

Can you remember any particularly challenging situation – previous to your enrollment in the SPARC programme – in which the lack of resources or the context, impeded you to provide the care or attention you wished? 

Yes, after World Cancer Day 2015, we wanted to set in place a professional navigation programme, but we weren't able to create a measurable impact. For instance, we missed the opportunity to follow-up with several patients due to a lack of resources.

You held a Sensitisation Forum for 100 retired midwives and nurses. How would you describe this experience? What kind of feedback did you receive from the participants and how will they be using the skills they acquired during the forum?

We were surprised to see such high interest and passion from the midwives and nurses towards palliative care for patients with advanced breast cancer. Access to pain relief drugs is a major impediment in providing palliative care for women battling with advanced breast cancer, while a robust palliative training is highly needed for the nurses/retired midwives. The Sensitisation Forum has empowered the nurses/retired midwives to become change makers in their facilities/communities; therefore, they are now cancer care advocates for patients battling with advanced breast cancer. 

Runcie C.W. Chidebe
Runcie C.W. Chidebe, Executive Director of the Health & Psychological Trust Centre in Nigeria

For more information about the SPARC MBC challenge please click here.