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The Long and Difficult Journey

Dr Agnes Gorospe, chair of the Oncology Section at the AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital, shares the culture of service, empathy and boundless love for family, which are the very values that Nina Espeli Allen showed towards her fellow seafarers

It’s been almost 12 years since I joined Seamen’s Hospital as its in-house medical oncologist. Talking and interviewing patients week after week, I have learned many things about the Union, seafaring, the seafarers and their experiences. I have made many friends and forged many connections. So I’m glad I saw the light and grabbed the opportunity of joining the medical staff because the experience has been richly rewarding.

Patience, courage, and a positive attitude. These are some of the essential characteristics a patient must possess in order to emotionally, mentally and physically survive the long and difficult journey after a cancer diagnosis. “It takes on a deeper meaning to see blessings behind the thick clouds suddenly cast in one’s horizon, but it is vital, even life-saving to see the light in the middle of darkness”, a friend once wrote to me.

Taking care of cancer patients every day for the last 18 years, I know how devastating it is to be diagnosed with an incurable disease. Fortunately for all of us, there’s the AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital, its supportive administration in the leadership of our President Dr. Conrad Oca, our Hospital Director Dr. George Pile, and our Medical Director Dr. Alejandro Ortigas, as well as the confidence and generosity of the International Transport Workers Federation, the Norwegian Seafarers Union and the All Japan Seamen’s Union.

The presence of an almost complete roster of multidisciplinary team of cancer doctors and the free-cancer drugs take a big burden off the shoulders of the AMOSUP member especially with the financial toxicity.

Indeed, the prospects of cancer treatment outcomes are getting better and brighter for the AMOSUP members and their dependents.

For the last decade, we have diagnosed, accommodated, managed and treated more than 10,000 patients in the OPD and more than 2,000 admissions for our cancer patients.

The incidence of cancer is increasing nationwide and based on our pathology tumour registry, the top three cancers we have here are: breast cancer, colorectal and lung cancer.

There are still many things that need to be done, and research to improve clinical outcomes is the way to go. Putting up a cancer ward dedicated to the memory of a cancer patient herself Nina Espeli Allen is an admirable effort of the hospital that sends a message of confidence and continued commitment to all our seafarers and their loved ones.

On behalf of all the cancer patients, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you and congratulations to AMOSUP Seamen’s Hospital administration, the Unions and all the hospital staff for nurturing a culture of service, empathy and boundless love for family—the very values that Nina Espeli Allen showed towards her fellow seafarers. SF