What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
I (Samantha Galliet) was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 29 in 2005. My only chance of survival was an expensive new treatment which my medical funder denied me access to despite me being on an extremely expensive benefit plan. I took them to court and won my case setting a precedent in South Africa. This enabled countless other women to access this life saving treatment. The turning point came when a woman came to me in the chemo room, took my hand and with tears in her eyes said “you saved my mother’s life.” My life changed in that instant and I knew that I had to do something for others in the same predicament. While I was fighting for my life I dumbfounded at how little information existed around cancer advocacy in South Africa. I had no-one to turn to and felt lost and alone. There were no organizations empowering cancer patients with knowledge and tools and I had to become a medical and legal expert overnight with not background in either discipline. I managed to learn quickly but there are many people less fortunate than I am (South Africa has a very low literacy rate and many people are not well educated). I founded the first breast cancer advocacy NGO (PinkLink) which, due to an unexpected demand, soon encouraged me to found Campaigning for Cancer, an advocacy organisation giving a voice to cancer patients and those affected by cancer.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
400 words or fewerAfter founding Campaigning for Cancer the process of understanding healthcare and the systems governing it began for Samantha. For the last three years, she has made it her mission to speak to patients from all races and walks of life in order to establish what the real issues they face are.
Samantha has lectured extensively on patient advocacy including talks to universities, corporate companies, banks, medical schemes, IT companies and pharmaceuticals. Samantha has also sat on advisory panels at various medical symposiums and events. She has attended a number of international conferences and is considered an expert in South Africa on cancer advocacy.
A recent highlight was Samantha was appointed to represent consumers on the Prescribed Minimum Benefits Task Team (PMB) in May 2010. Representatives from the South African Government, Medical Aid Schemes and Medical Professionals are part of this vital committee which will have a huge impact on the treatment that patients and healthcare consumers receive in South Africa. This is the first time that an NGO has been invited to participate in the debate and policy development around these issues.
Samantha was invited to deliver the cancer Advocacy Plenary at the ESMO Lung Cancer Conference in Switzerland in April 2010 and has been invited to participate in the UICC (United International Cancer Control) Global Conference in Beijing China in August 2010.
Additionally Samantha has recently been appointed to the American Cancer Society Global External Review Committee comprised of subject experts from the public and non-profit sectors to provide a formative evaluation of the Society’s proposed strategy for the Global Health Program.
Samantha is considered an advocacy expert in South Africa and has continually appeared in numerous media (television, print, radio). She continues to promote advocacy and educate patients and the public on speaking out and fighting for patients rights.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Through another organization or company
If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company
Prime Consulting South Africa