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STAYING ALIVE 1: Meeting Marissa and some of the founding fathers of Uganda Cancer Institute

The Lymphoma Treatment Centre at Mulago, Kampala Uganda ca.1970. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF HIPUGANDA AND DR MARISSA

Staying Alive 1: Meeting Marissa and some of the Founding Fathers of the UCI 

UCI AT 50: The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) that started on August 8, 1967 is celebrating 50 years. One of the activities in the month-long celebrations is a launch of a book this week – STAYING ALIVE  – that documents the journey of Uganda Cancer Institute from 1967-2017. This blog post, from HIPUganda, is one in a series that has five excerpts. 

Kampala, Uganda| HIPUGANDA | It was June 2012 when American medical historian Marissa Mika contacted HIPUganda. She was then a doctoral candidate writing a history of cancer in East Africa. As part of her research she came across photographs connected to the history of the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) and thought HIP would be a good place to make some of the photographs available to a wider audience.

There were two important reasons for me to accept Marissa’s invitation to work with the historical photo collections related to the UCI. The first one, obviously, being am interest in photographs related to Ugandan pasts. The second one was a personal history with cancer. This history makes me, just like former UCI patients, a cancer survivor. I asked my oncologist in the Netherlands what would have happened had I lived in Uganda.

He described in rather graphic terms how the cervix cancer I was diagnosed with would have developed if it had not been found during a general health screening as it was. It would have been painful. I would have been dead. This makes me an insider to the story of the UCI in one sense, and shows how privileged I am in another. It makes global inequalities painfully present.

This blog post is the first in a series. In weekly instalments we’ll work towards the opening of an exhibition and book launch, taking place August 18th. Both book and show spark off from the photographs Marissa brought to the table five years ago.

Late 1960s. Standing with glasses Dr. Chuck Vogel, Director of the Solid Tumour Centre.

In this post Marissa responds to three questions. Her answers introduce the founding fathers of the institute and the photographs found, and thumbnails of some of the pictures that are presented in book and exhibition. In follow up posts individual pictures, the people connected to them and issues that spark of from the photographs will be discussed.

Read the full blog here (click to read)



What Uganda is teaching us about cancer (click to read)

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