On 5th March 2022, the Wellbeing Committee at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM) presented a donation of Eighty Thousand Dalasis (GMD 80,000) to Ms. Madeleine Demba, in support of her fundraising for breast cancer treatment.
Madeleine worked as an intern at the Unit’s Clinical Services Department for 6 months and joined the ETVAX Study team as a staff between 2020 to 2021. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2021.
The Unit’s Wellbeing Programme was first introduced in 2015 as a response to a high number of reported cases of lifestyle-induced illnesses such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and back pain at the Staff Clinic. The primary aim of the programme is to promote lifestyle change to prevent or delay the onset of preventable diseases, thereby reducing sickness-related absenteeism and improving quality of life for employees and their families.
Every year in October, the Committee organises fundraising events, including the sale of breast cancer awareness merchandise to staff members. These funds are raised to support the Cancer Unit at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) and to support any staff member that has been diagnosed with cancer.
Tisbeh Faye-Joof is an outgoing member of the Wellbeing Committee and the Manager of the Serology Laboratory at the MRCG at LSHTM. In her opening remarks, she said, “The Wellbeing Committee aims at promoting physical, mental, financial, and environmental wellbeing. This is a noble cause. We are making this donation to support the treatment of our former staff Madeleine who has been diagnosed with cancer. We never prayed for this, but this is a small token to give back to the staff. We encourage others to support in any way possible. A gofundme has already been created and people can donate to support her treatment.”
The Executive Assistant to the Unit Director, Marie Rose Thorpe, shared similar remarks saying, “It is a privilege to be able to look after one of our own. We are here as a Committee to support you on behalf of all the staff. One of the tenets of the Committee is to look after the wellbeing of our staff. During this journey, we want to extend our support to you in any way possible. This is a challenging journey, but we will uplift you and keep you in our prayers.”
Madeleine, a State Registered Nurse, expressed her gratitude to the Committee. The 25-year-old said, “Honestly, I never expected this because I have left the Unit to further my studies and am no longer a staff member. I appreciate this support and all the contributions and prayers. I am indeed grateful, and I am thanking everyone who has supported me in one way or the other.”
Edward Demba is the Research Laboratories Services Managert the MRCG at LSHTM. As Madeleine’s father, he said, “I want to express my gratitude on behalf of my family and Madeleine. Thank you very much for the support. We would want her to be treated abroad and after a lot of consultations, we have chosen Royal Marsden in the UK. We will be making an advance payment and then her visa will be processed. There are cheaper options, but we don’t want to gamble. This support will go a long way in helping her to get the right treatment and we are grateful.”
Bunja Kebbeh is the Chairperson of the MRCG at LSHTM Workers’ Union. He commended the team for supporting the fundraising for Madeleine’s treatment.
He said, “This is a remarkable gesture and shows the level of togetherness within the Unit. This support shows that there is no discrimination here. At the MRCG at LSHTM, we will continue to support our staff in situations like this. I wish Madeleine a successful treatment.”
The Wellbeing Committee is planning exciting new activities and initiatives that will boost staff and student wellbeing with long-lasting benefits to their health. This includes the upcoming launching of the Wellbeing and the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Policy (EDI) to protect and provide guidance and directives regarding EDI and wellbeing in the Unit.
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