Betterdays cancer care was established as the first African Caribbean user-led organisation,providing self-advocacy services to the BME community and young single parents. Their philosophy is that it is a fundamental and essential requirement that every patient hashumane and dignified treatment. “we should have access to quality services, simply because we are human beings,” says founder Marina Raime.Almost 60 years ago the architects of the international human rights system understood the importance of the right to the highest attainable standard of ealth for achieving human dignity, human well-being and even human security. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and his family,including….medical care” And the right to health is recognized in several international instruments.The Betterdays programme was originally devised by Marina Raime, who had breast cancer herself and knew from personal experience what people in her situation needed most. Using its network, Betterdays puts patients in touch with the right cancer specialist and treatment for their particular illness and provides information that facilitates choice and control.
“Providing information, alongside the support to understand and act on that information empowers patients to retain and regain control over their lives,” says Marina. Betterdays also provides expert legal and financial advice to patients and
their families. It has spiritual advisers to help with religious and spiritual questions.Betterdays works to ensure equality of access to services for the BME population by providing culturally sensitive information and support in order to promote integration and inclusion and reduce inequalities and isolation. “We offer a holistic approach treating the ‘patient rather than the disease’,” says Marina.Through health promotion and education Betterdays aims to dispel cultural myths and the taboos of cancer, challenging common misconceptions. Their aim is to provide support within a social, celebratory, and multicultural setting. Betterdays provides breast health education and awareness campaigns and encourages healthier living. “By promoting early detection and creating awareness of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, we can encourage uptake of cancer screening and reduce inequalities,” says Marina. “We can provide a patient navigator and peer support for those with a breast cancer diagnosis helping to educate and empower our members so that they can make informed choices.”
Betterdays Cancer care was first set up to raise the voice of younger BME women being diagnosed with breast cancer and has become an active organisation with a ‘seat at the table.’ Marina cites the involvement of Betterdays Cancer Care as a strong signal of the growing acceptance of the need to reduce inequalities in cancer treatment. ‘Our job now will be to do justice to our hard work, taking forward the cancer reform strategy’s recommendations for the BME population.