SPARC grant awardees - Meet Vitalis from Nigeria

27 October 2016

Dr Vitalis Okwor, 39 years old, is a consultant on Clinical and Radiation Oncology at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu, and coordinator of University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Breast Cancer Support Group. He works in the fight against breast cancer through campaign and screening activities. 

As part of the SPARC MBC Challenge launched in partnership with Pfizer, UNTHBCSG is developing a project that aims at providing customised palliative care for breast cancer patients.

Why weren’t you able to carry out your project before being part of the SPARC program?

Since its creation, the organisation’s activities were limited to providing counseling to our immediate community of breast cancer patients in the clinics, and wards for both outpatients and inpatients, respectively. However, expansion of activities to other communities was hindered by scarcity of funding, hence our application to the SPARC Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Challenge. The project has helped in expanding programme activities to much needed communities where campaigns could be carried out and local community health workers could also be trained.

What are your colleagues’ feedbacks on the program, the progress you are making? Can you feel the team is more inspired since you bring your ideas or goals to life?

Since inception of the project, my colleagues have been very passionate about it and have been involved in advocacy, quality of life assessment, regular follow-up of breast cancer patients, organisation of UNTH Breast Cancer Survivors meetings, breast cancer patients' navigation by providing more information on their health status, timely access to the treatments for MBC patients as well as the early stage patients, and fast-tracking the referral processes to extension of home care palliative services. The team is also now more inspired by the success achieved through the project as more patients are seeking care earlier and receiving better treatment outcomes.

Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Prof. Ifeoma Okoye - the founder of Breast Without Support (BWS) Initiative and a consultant radiologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu – because she has a similar passion and has been an advocate of early breast cancer detection.

What do you like the most about your work?

What I like most about my work is that it gives hope to the hopeless by giving them the sense of belonging and also creating awareness that cancer is not a death sentence. Aside from that, more patients are able to make better informed decisions about treatment options, and previously held myths regarding cancer treatments are also gradually being striped-off in the light of accurate information and testimonials by other cancer survivors.

What character trait makes you good at what you do?

I am very passionate about cancer patients, and I also give keen attention to the patients’ care. 

For more information about the SPARC initiative and related projects, please click here.

Last update: 
Monday 22 May 2017
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