Dr Sudeshen Naidoo, a leading radiation oncologist, established the Johnson Rose Cancer Foundation in memory of his late father, Johnson and his aunt, Rose, who both died of cancer.
“My first experience was in childhood, when my beloved aunt Rosie was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and passed away within a few weeks of her diagnosis. This shattered our family – and her death solidified my later career decision to specialise as an oncologist.”
In 2019, Dr Naidoo’s father, Dr Johnson Naidoo, was diagnosed with an aggressive stomach cancer. Despite a successful surgical resection, Dr Johnson Naidoo succumbed to the illness. This was due to an inability to complete chemotherapy and radiation treatment because of side effects and advanced age.
“My father has always been a superhero to me – a juggernaut in his field who helped shape occupational Medicine in Kwa-Zulu Natal. As an oncologist I felt helpless and an inner rage to see him deteriorate so quickly. Just a year after his initial diagnosis, he succumbed to the illness in August 2020.”
The Johnson Rose Cancer Foundation is the first of its kind in South Africa. The foundation provides funding and assistance to uninsured families afflicted with cancer. South Africa’s cancer crisis has become almost insurmountable, with access to cancer treatment and care disproportionately associated with socioeconomic status, health insurance coverage and geographic location.
Treatment is out of reach for most South Africans due to high costs. Long waiting lists, insufficient human resources and infrastructure flaws add further insult to injury.
This has a negative impact on families. Cancer and its treatment cause patients, their families, communities and society to lose out on economic opportunities. Children are especially vulnerable to dropping out of school when the sole breadwinner is ill.
At the Johnson Rose Cancer Foundation we are sensitive to these complexities and take a multi-disciplinary approach to integrate services that focus on providing support for the entire family.