Joseph James: The teen who inspired the iCCARE house

Joseph James is a thoughtful, serious 17-year-old. So when he developed fevers and began sleeping hours each day in January of 2015, his family knew something was wrong. For the next fourteen months, they sought answers at countless hospitals and clinics before finally being referred to Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania. There, they were told Joseph James had cancer.

After pursuing treatment for so long, Joseph James’ family had no money left for treatment. That was when they learned about iCCARE.

We met this team when we had run out of all the money we had.” — Elisha, Joseph James’ older brother

With help from iCCARE, Joseph James started chemotherapy that same week. Over the past year and a half, he has undergone major surgery and ten rounds of chemotherapy without ever making a payment. He still has a long road ahead, but he and his brother remain optimistic. “We have hope cancer can be cured,” Elisha says.

As much as Joseph James’ life has been changed because of iCCARE, iCCARE has been changed because of Joseph James. Last year, an oncology patient navigator learned Joseph James and Elisha were sleeping outside of the hospital gates between rounds of chemotherapy because they could not afford the USD$2.50 per night to stay in a guesthouse. Their dedication to pursuing Joseph James’ cure motivated the establishment of the iCCARE house where all pediatric cancer families can now stay for free.

Today, Joseph James continues to receive treatment and live with his brother at the house they inspired– something that brings them great joy. “We are meeting different people here so we don’t feel alone. We exchange ideas and give each other hope.”