ISEA Recipient on a Mission To Get More Therapists Involved in Global Outreach

Regina Ley, R.T.(T)
Oct. 2, 2017
Regina Ley at CAMRT

As a two-time cancer survivor, I understand how important it is for cancer patients to have access to radiation therapy. Yet in many places throughout the world, radiation therapy is a luxury. In fact, in many countries like Kenya — where over 1,200 people are on the wait list for treatments — a cancer diagnosis is, more often than not, a death sentence.

I learned firsthand about this heartbreaking situation in 2016 while serving as a RAD-AID/ASRT Foundation Outreach Fellow in East Africa. With the assistance of a donor-funded outreach grant, I traveled to the capital city of Nairobi, where I spent the next five days working at Kenyatta National Hospital, the only publicly funded hospital offering radiation therapy treatments in a 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.

My experience in Kenya was life-changing, and it quickly became a new mission for me to help others by elevating cancer treatment in developing countries. But I knew I couldn’t carry out this mission alone; I had to get the word out to my fellow therapists about the critical need for volunteers to serve in other parts of the world.

Spreading the Word by Becoming an International Speaker

In 2017, I applied for and received an International Speakers Exchange Award through the ASRT Foundation. With the help of that award, I was able to present my paper, “The Quest for Hakuna Matata: My Journey Into Community Global Outreach,” at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists in Ottawa.

CAMRT was an amazing experience. It was my first time presenting and I was nervous, but the audience members were attentive and enthusiastic. They seemed intrigued with my presentation, asking great questions such as whether I felt the outreach team had made a difference during the limited amount of time we spent in Kenya, whether the patients and hospital workers were receptive to or put off by our being there, and whether my employer was helpful and encouraging about my mission. The next day, someone actually told me my presentation was the best they’d seen at the conference. That was a thrill!

CAMRT Conference a Confidence Builder and Stepping Stone

Attending the CAMRT conference gave me the confidence to continue presenting on issues important to our profession and the public. For example, I was later selected as a guest speaker for the Roswell Park Radiation Therapy Conference in Niagara Falls. I was excited and humbled to have been chosen by my peers to present about global outreach once again.

Knowledge really is power! Our profession is constantly changing and evolving, and it’s such a gift to be able to share our experiences and our expertise with others in the field. The ISEA program makes that possible.

Donors Make It Possible

Words cannot adequately convey my gratitude to the generous Foundation donors who made it possible for me to not only set foot on a whole new journey in my life, but also to share this important work with the world. Because of donors, I’m able to spread the word about the critical need for medical outreach. I firmly believe that our professional community has the skills, compassion and resources to change the situation — not just in Nairobi, but around the world — to ensure that patients everywhere have the same opportunity to survive cancer as I did.

Did Regina Ley’s story inspire you? Learn more about our International Outreach program and International Speakers Exchange Award, or make a donation to support these and other valuable Foundation programs.