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Dr. Emma Johnson: Doctor, Survivor, Champion

/ November 22, 2017 /

“We don't even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward.” - Isabel Allende

Nobody knows this better than Dr. Emma Johnson, who went from being a cancer survivor to a champion for children battling cancer in Africa. As the twinning lead for the World Child Cancer programme in Ghana, Dr. Emma Johnson has helped in treating around 300 cancer affected children every year since 2010. As a part of the project, she regularly visits Ghana to deliver specific training to medical personnel.

A Personal Tragedy

Although Dr. Emma Johnson has over 20 years of experience as a paediatric oncologist, her real insights into the psyche of her patients developed after she herself fought cancer. It was during her fight against cancer that she realised how important the feeling of trust and safety was during this difficult period.

“I needed to put my whole trust in the doctors, nurses and other professionals looking after me. Luckily for me I was treated at a leading breast cancer unit in UK where all facilities were available,” she says. Dr. Emma Johnson realised that the same level of infrastructure and care was not available to all cancer patients around the world. And in developing countries, where resources are scarce and staff is not so well supported, both the hospital staff and the patients often feel insecure and very afraid.

Picture: Dr. Emma Johnson: Doctor, Survivor, Champion

Source: The Sunday Post

A Medical Initiative

In the meanwhile, Dr. Lorna Renner, her colleague had returned to her home in Ghana and founded a paediatric unit. While children in developed countries were winning their battle with cancer in large numbers, in the developing world, hundreds of children with malignancies had no access to treatment or even pain relief. In fact, more than 80% of cancer patients in the developing world did not survive the onslaught of cancer.

Ever since her first visit to Ghana in 2010 to support her colleague, Dr. Emma Johnson has been a regular visitor to Ghana as a lead cancer specialist. She visits the unit twice a year to train the local nurses and doctors, and to provide palliative care for the patients. But for her, the most memorable part of her visit is walking through the wards to meet with and reassure the children and their families.

Dr. Emma Johnson refuses to accept any plaudits for her work in Ghana and instead says, “I was not expecting how much I would learn from the professionals in Ghana. I feel very privileged and hugely proud to be part of such a noble cause and project.”

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