Decisions about applications for support and the general
developments of the foundation are made by a council composed of oncologists Dr
Peeter Padrik, Dr Hele Everaus, Dr Kadri Putnik, Dr Edward Laane and Dr
Kristiina Ojamaa, plus Rita Rätsepp, Janek Mäggi and Erik Sakkov.
Peeter Padrik is an oncologist, a doctor of medical science, the director of haematology-oncology at Tartu University Hospital and chairman of the management board of the Estonian Association of Oncotherapy. He is also a member of the international professional associations the European Society for Medical Oncology and the American Society for Clinical Oncology and of the specialty committee of oncology and cancer treatment quality committee of the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs.
"During my career as a doctor I’ve had to arrange countless applications to the Health Insurance Fund to make new medications available to Estonian patients. Many of those applications have succeeded and new medications have helped hundreds of people.
However, some applications have been rejected. New medications are unfortunately getting more expensive, their benefits are often limited or they only work for a small number of patients, so there is no sufficient reason to fund the treatment. But still there are patients suffering from serious illnesses who need these medications to live longer lives.
"The Gift of Life" is a highly appreciated
initiative in supplying cancer patients with crucial treatment. I didn't see
any reason not to be part of that," Peeter says.
Hele Everaus is an oncologist and has been the director of the haematology-oncology clinic of Tartu University and Tartu University Hospital since 2000.
She was the founder of the bone marrow transplant programme in Estonia (the first transplant taking place in 1993) and is the chairwoman of the Estonian Bioethics Council, a member of the European Bioethics Council and a member of the advisory committee of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme.
"Since 1991, when Estonia regained its independence, I’ve done everything to ensure that haematology and oncology patients get the treatment they need. In the early days even the most elementary medication was unavailable to us.
The situation has improved significantly since then, but treatment options are improving all the time. Therefore we’re part of a process in which the shapers and funders of health care policy are expected to be flexible and quick to respond in the best interests of patients.
I believe the foundation will underscore the need for new
and effective medications and not lose any time waiting for funding for the
necessary medication in individual cases, but help patients immediately. The
right timing of treatment is a decisive factor," Hele says.
Kristiina Ojamaa is an oncologist and the head of the oncology department at East-Tallinn Central Hospital.
Kadri Putnik is an oncologist. She has worked as a chemotherapy doctor in the oncology-haematology department of the North Estonia Medical Centre since 2011.
Her main focus is skin cancer and treatment of bone and soft tissue sarcoma.
She has been the head of the working group in this field since 2012 and the chairwoman of the management board of the Estonian Oncologist Society since autumn 2013.
"I hope the foundation gives hope and extra days to
those who desperately need them. The whole world needs foundations like it for
those special cases," Kadri says.
Edward Laane is an oncologist and the associate professor of haematology at the University of Tartu.
"In the developed world, which Estonia is a part of, cancer is the second most common cause of death after heart disease. It is said nowadays that every second or third person may be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. At the same time cancer patients can live longer thanks to improved medications.
I was motivated to join "The Gift of Life" team by the foundation's great management and the fact that people are truly moved by our activities. In Estonia access to newer medications is unfortunately limited and sadly late as well. The relative situation is getting worse by year. Thus the existence of the foundation is very important for patients fighting cancer. It may even be their last resort for a chance to live longer. Every day gained is invaluable.
In the US, it is commonplace that people donate 10% of their income to charity. Although the tax burden in Estonia is high, our people and companies are contributing increasingly more to the cancer foundation, offering a helping hand to those in need. I hope that my work in the foundation's council helps to raise society's awareness of cancer treatment issues and clarifies the principles based on which cancer treatment is funded in Estonia. But what I value the most is the chance to help the foundation provide the patients with modern treatment, giving hope and a chance for longer life," Edward says.
Rita Rätsepp graduated from the Conservatory as an actress in 1980 and still works in this area today.
From 2001-2008 she studied at the Private School of Professional Psychology. She earned a Master's degree in consultive psychology from Audentes University and acquired a Master's in social sciences (psychology) from Academy Nord.
She has worked as a psychologist at Rocca al Mare school and in her own company, Counseling OÜ.
"I’ve come into contact with cancer a lot in my own family and professionally. I know how important support of any kind is. I’ll be happy if I can help ease one person’s mind through the foundation," Rita says.
Janek Mäggi is the founder, owner and CEO of PR company Powerhouse. He is the chair of the council of Children's Hospital Foundation.
"I was moved by Toivo's wish to help not only himself, but also those who are in a similar difficult situation. "The Gift of Life" is my second charity fund besides Tallinn Children's Hospital Foundation that I'm involved in. I want to live in Estonia and make it a better place to live day by day. I want to make my own little contribution so that society as a whole more caring and healthier.
As a side effect of treating society, I want to treat patients, and as a side effect of treating patients, I want to treat society so that we love one another. More. With passion. More sincerely," Janek says.
Erik Sakkov is an entrepreneur and the honorary consul to Belgium in Estonia. He has been a senior member in companies such as the Port of Tallinn, NT Marine, Tallinn Airport and Nordic Aviation Group.
"I have always followed the foundation's activities with great sympathy and support. People who help others with such dedication can only evoke good emotions and desire to join in," Erik says.