This week in Marbella, the Spanish cancer association, Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC), inaugurated its first "active space against cancer" in Andalucía. Marbella has now joined Madrid and Barcelona, the only two other cities to possess a centre of this type. The association has been helping in the fight against cancer in Spain for 66 years.
"It is in Marbella, for Marbella," said the local president of AECC, Maika Gómez, about the new facility. She expressed her gratitude for the support received from numerous entities that have helped the project come to fruition, including the provincial government, the Diputación, of Malaga.
"We have to put our shoulders to the wheel because our resources are limited, but if we can do something to help the fight against cancer then we have to do it," said Francisco Salado, president of the Diputación.
The objective of this new centre is to offer cancer patients and their families a place where they can feel comfortable, away from a hospital atmosphere. "What we wanted to do was fill the space with activity, light and life," explained Alberto Arenaga, one of the architects of the project. "This new centre will make everything so much easier."
In the new premises the association will continue to provide the same free services as it has since it was founded, but "as well as offering support, it is a space where people can share their experiences and receive medical and psychological advice", explained Isabel Cintado, the councillor for Social Rights.
In addition to the programmes that AECC has been providing in Marbella since the 1980s, it also has a palliative care service, anti-smoking unit, voice rehabilitation sessions, a healthy lifestyle campaign in schools and a volunteer service.
"We need more support from public and private entities, such as town halls, provincial governments and associations like the AECC, so we can join forces and fight cancer together," said the head of the Andalusian service, Miguel Moreno, who also took the opportunity to call for more specialists in some towns and cities in the region.
"There aren't enough doctors. Patients have to go from Malaga or Seville to the hospital in Algeciras because of the lack of oncologists, and we are talking about a population of more than 350,000," he said. He also attributed the problem to the fact that many doctors have moved to other countries to work, and said something needs to be done to get them to come back.
Moreno stressed the importance of research, which is fundamental in eradicating this illness. "We must not forget the talent of the researchers who introduce treatments and therapies which are proving more and more effective," he said. There are seven research foundations in Andalucía, one of which is in Malaga province.