My name is Hripsime Martirosyan, single, from Armenia with education in English language, International Jurisprudence and Business Administration.
In 2015, at the age of 40, I was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer, underwent a skin-sparing mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction and was put on hormonal therapy for 5 years. Due to a break in hormonal therapy for fertility purposes I had a relapse in March 2020 and underwent a full mastectomy, amid a global pandemic of COVID-19 with heavy limitations to healthcare in general and particularly to cancer care.
For about a year after my 1st diagnosis, I was supporting other women diagnosed with breast cancer (psychological assistance, orientation in cancer care, treatment eligibility and rights, etc.). In February 2017 I established HENARAN charitable foundation to target the system as a whole for a change. My mission is to advocate for quality and timely access to cancer care in a country where there is no massive health insurance system and comprehensive national cancer program with state financing. This made me become a member of the National Cancer Control Board (established in July 2019) as the only non-governmental organization to represent the voices and interests of cancer patients among 18 oncologists and other clinicians and public health professionals.
Until 2019 cancer treatment payments were done out-of-pocket by people who couldn’t afford this expensive treatment unless they sold their houses, thus increasing the poverty rate in the country. Since 2019 cancer surgeries and radiation therapy are performed by state-funding at specific clinics, but chemotherapy is the present major challenge and immunotherapy isn’t widely practiced. Multidisciplinary teams were mandated just in 2019 by the Health Minister’s order which wasn’t heartily welcomed by the medical community and hospitals.
More information on what HENARAN foundation does for cancer advocacy in the country of Armenia can be found here www.henaran-fund.org