A new Cancer Foundation, called ‘Ikkana Cancer Foundation’, has been set up and already assisting mothers to seek treatment at the Vila Central Hospital in Port Vila.

The new Cancer Foundation was founded and set up by a 32-year- old Max Albert, from North-West Malekula.

Albert is a Musician by profession.

Some years ago, his mother was diagnosed with cancer symptoms, and had to receive treatment at early stage.

She was cured which is the reason she is still alive today, and plays a key role in the Ikkana Cancer Foundation, mainly in awareness amongst mothers of all ages on Malekula and the nearby island of Ambrym.

It was during the difficult times when his mother battled the cancer and after she was medically cleared off the cancer record, that Max Albert took time to ponder over the struggle he saw in his mother. It was also painful for him, he told the Daily Post.

“I was challenged. When she was in pain. I recalled the time when she cared for me, fed me, looked after me from the time I was a toddler, through my school days and up to the time I became a man and led my own life to become a musician.

“I had one conclusion on my mind and that is to help as many mothers in Vanuatu as possible to overcome cancer.

“I felt if my mother had succeeded to overcome cancer, because she received treatment early then mothers in Vanuatu should do the same.

“It was at this point that I felt women in Vanuatu must receive early treatment and that means an awareness amongst every mothers whether or not they have cancer,” said Max Albert.

Through some research, Albert decided to set up a Cancer Foundation with a purpose of running and promoting an awareness amongst all mothers in Vanuatu against cancer.

He decided on the name of the Foundation to be Ikkana which is translated in English to be ‘You and Us’ which he felt is close to ‘In God We Stand’ or ‘God and Us’.

The year he founded and set up the Ikkana Cancer foundation was 2017.

Today, the young man has coordinated awareness and actual screening programs in North West Malekula, North East Ambrym, North and West Ambrym and looks ahead to promote the program throughout the country.

He coordinates the awareness and screening program with the assistance of health personnel, he told the Daily Post.

He explained that there are components to the program that include; awareness, screening, and meeting the costs of mothers to travel to Port Vila for further checks and treatment if needed.

The costs component was and is a factor that can sometime slow down dealing with cancer.

So, Albert, had to look ahead of how to overcome this obstacle.

He decided to set up a self-financing component by creating Committees of Ikkana in communities whereby women and men elect their committees and each member donates Vt1,000 per year.

The funds are controlled by the community committees with advice from the founder Max Albert.

And wherever a mother shows symptoms of cancer, the costs of her travels to and from Port Vila is met from the Ikkana Foundation Funds.

Since 2017, 800 women and men in North-West Malekula and Ambrym have already registered as Ikkana members.

Last week Albert donated Vt156,000 into the Ikkana main Foundation Fund.

It was proceeds from his musical talent.

He vowed to continue to raise funds towards the Cancer Foundation that will help mothers receive professional treatment in Port Vila.

“It is my vision that one day there will be treatment centers in all six provinces of Vanuatu, but first and foremost is to maximize the awareness and screening amongst mothers of all ages throughout the country.

“For this, we need the cooperation of the provinces and of course to work closely with health authorities in the country,” said Max Albert.

“We cannot wait on the government but have to do something ourselves first and then the government can step in as and where necessary which means working hand in hand to ensure all mothers in the country receive timely information about cancer, received screening if necessary and get early treatment,” Albert said.

He said all mothers in Vanuatu must receive checks every three years, even if they don’t think they have cancer.

Already the Ikkana Foundation has assisted 16 mothers to received cancer checks and treatment at the Vila Central Hospital in Port Vila.