WHEN Joan Hunt’s husband sadly died of cancer in 1991, she found that his doctor Marisa Martin was especially helpful to her, particularly in coming to terms with what had happened, and she vowed to dedicate her life to helping others in similar situations.
Thus was born the concept of Cudeca, the cancer charity – which provides palliative care to those stricken by the disease – which with mixed feelings celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017.
Although Dr Martin was working at a hospital from 8am to 3pm, Joan persuaded her to become involved with her project and by 1992 they started to make home visits to those in dire need of assistance.
From there, they were joined by nurse Susan Hannam and in their first year, they helped eight patients but since this very humble start, Cudeca has grown to be the most recognised ‘hands on’ cancer charity in Spain and in 2015 cared for nearly 1,300 patients and their families.
There was an initial imbalance between those making donations and those applying for care with funds coming mainly from the British and Scandinavian communities whilst care was requested predominantly by Spanish families.
Traditionally, Spanish families like to look after those with serious illnesses and were not used to the concept of a hospice which took those close to them away to care for patients in their last few weeks but slowly but surely, this concept has been embraced by both communities who now work side by side to provide care and raise funds.
One of the most exciting developments for the trio and their many helpers was an offer in 2000 from the mayor of Benalmadena to donate a large area of waste land to the charity to allow them to move from rented accommodation in Fuengirola, provided they were able to raise sufficient funds for construction.
Part of Joan’s philosophy is to undertake nothing until there are funds to cover the work and by 2005 they had completed the building which now offers day care, assistance for families and inpatient palliative care.
Now, funds continue to be of major importance so that the Cudeca Foundation can continue its work and hopefully expand into other parts of Andalucia.
It receives a significant percentage of its annual income direct from the Junta de Andalucia and from 1,500 people who make monthly standing order donations but its largest revenue stream continues to come from its 18 charity shops in the Costa del Sol and Axarquia, outlet and website which between them account for over 700 volunteers.
Legacies are an important source of funds as are general fundraisers which last year saw 168 different events raise €400,000.
As cancer continues to strike young and old alike, there is still a great need for the services of Cudeca which are supplied free of charge to those who need support and as well as helping to trains student GPs, they are also looking to expand their range of activities to improve care for the young who are suffering from the disease.
For details of the foundation and events planned for 2017, visit www.cudeca.org.