Cancer Survivor Improves Radiation Therapy in Kenya

Regina Ley, A.S., R.T.(T)
Nov. 15, 2016

Regina LeyThe medical care I received 25 years ago is what helped me beat cancer twice and is what motivated me to become a radiation therapist. I would not be alive today if not for the treatment I received and the medical advances we have in the United States.

In August, I was able to be a part of helping bring some of those medical advancements to the people of Kenya as an ASRT Foundation Community Outreach Fellow in partnership with a RAD-AID International outreach team. I worked at Kenyatta National Hospital in the capital city of Nairobi, which is the only publicly funded hospital that offers radiation therapy treatments in the city of over 3 million people.

The hospital had just acquired its first linear accelerator and the staff needed assistance in learning to operate the equipment as well as the treatment planning system. Our team provided that training, but we also worked to establish a relationship with the staff to lay the groundwork for future outreach teams to continue to improve the quality of treatments patients received.

We emphasized to the staff that we were there for them — not just during our short stay but as a long-term professional resource. I believe we gained their trust and respect with how committed we were to helping them because, since we left, communication with them has been steady and ongoing.

I taught the therapists a few practical tricks, such as the sheet tug trick and keeping patient side/table side when triangulating, and was thrilled when they got it and started doing it on their own. They were so excited to learn something new, and it was extremely gratifying. What is most gratifying is that the quality of treatments at the hospital will improve because of the knowledge and confidence the staff gained because of our visit.

Words can’t adequately convey how grateful I am to the generous Foundation donors who made it possible for me to be a part of this important work. I would need to give them a hug! This experience has been life changing for me. Everyone should have the same opportunity for surviving cancer as I did. I shouldn’t be one of the “lucky ones.” In many countries, like Kenya, a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence because they do not have access to the treatments that saved my life. Through medical outreach work, the generosity of Foundation donors is helping to change that.

After this experience I believe that cancer was a “gift” I was given. My path in life was laid out for me when I survived the disease not once, but twice. I wanted to help other people conquer cancer too. Seeing both sides of cancer, as a survivor and a caregiver, has made me the passionate and dedicated therapist that I am today.

Working at Kenyatta National Hospital has given me another mission in life: to take things one step further and help others who are less fortunate than us by elevating cancer treatment in developing countries. The support of donors made it possible for me to be a part of changing lives in Nairobi. I plan to keep helping others who are fighting cancer in any way I can, and I encourage donors to continue their support of the Foundation. Together we can help people all over the world become cancer survivors like me!