Hiker Completes 300 km Postal Route for Charity

Hiker Einar Skúlason

Hiker Einar Skúlason finished an 11 day trek along an old northeastern postal route this Friday, raising over ISK 1 Million [$7300, €6600] for The Akureyri Cancer Society. He acted as a real-life postal worker during the trek, delivering Christmas cards along the way, Mbl.is reports.

Einar has previously hiked a number of other old postal routes, which were used before modern roads allowed for safer and quicker travel between rural communities. His latest journey started in the eastern town of Seyðisfjörður on the East Coast on December 4. “I stopped at a few places along the way, as the postal workers used to do back in the day,” Einar told Mbl.is as he concluded the walk in Akureyri. “I visited places like Möðrudalur and Grímsstaður á Fjöllum and got lodging and food like they did in the old days.”

Most of the nights Einar stayed in a tent which he carried on his back along with other supplies, a 30 kg extra weight in total. “I didn’t know if I’d make it in time for Christmas, if there would be any low points, how the weather would be and whether something would happen to me on the way,” he added. “There is always a risk involved carrying such a heavy backpack.”

Freezing cold during the hike

The route is nearly 300 km long, but Einar was able to stop at a number of natural baths along the way to ease his sore muscles and warm himself up. “It was frightfully cold on the way, usually a double digit number below zero, sometimes 15 to 20 degrees freezing,” Einar said. “But the day before yesterday it was 17 below by Mývatn, but then suddenly zero degrees at midnight.”

Einar raised money for The Akureyri Cancer Society from online pledges and fees for the Christmas greetings he delivered on the way. “The Society does great work. So I called them up and asked if I should raise money for them,” he said, adding that promoting the Society’s work is an added benefit, which will hopefully encourage people in need to reach out to them.

Cervical Cancer Screenings to be Processed Abroad

hospital

Cervical samples taken for cancer screening in Iceland will be processed abroad starting next month, RÚV reports. Cancer screening will be taken over by local healthcare centres after at least one misdiagnosis was discovered at the Cancer Society. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir says sending the samples abroad is a temporary solution as the National University Hospital currently does not have the capacity to process the cervical biopsies.

Misdiagnoses Led to Incurable Cervical Cancer

For several years, Iceland’s healthcare system has contracted out cervical and breast cancer screenings to the local Cancer Society. The contract is up at the end of this year, and in 2021 cervical cancer screening will be transferred to local healthcare clinics and breast examinations to the National University Hospital.  Six thousand samples taken by the Cancer Society are being re-evaluated after cell changes have been found in more than 50 women that were not initially detected due to a staff member’s mistake. One woman screened for cervical cancer at the Society in 2018 was misdiagnosed and now has incurable cervical cancer. A lawyer is looking into 25 similar cases that he claims could show screening mistakes are attributable to more than a single staff member.

A Temporary Solution

Svandís stated that nurses and midwives are preparing to conduct screenings at health clinics starting in January. The samples will, however, initially be analysed abroad. “Cell samples as well as HPV samples will be temporarily analysed abroad while long-term arrangements are being worked out. No final decision has been made on where the cell samples will be analysed after the temporary contract expires,” the Health Minister stated. According to Svandís, the Director of Health suggested the National Hospital take over the analysis of the samples, but the hospital is not in a position to do so immediately as it faces increased workload due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some Cancer Society staff have been offered positions at the National University Hospital, which has provided housing for screenings on Eiríksgata in Reykjavík. The facilities are expected to be ready in April of next year.

Foreign Party Will Review Cancer Society Procedures Following Misdiagnosis

Krabbameinsfélagið

The Directorate of Health intends to hire an organisation from outside of Iceland to re-evaluate cervical samples taken by the Icelandic Cancer Society and examine whether screening procedures at the institution are satisfactory. Six thousand samples taken by the Cancer Society are being re-evaluated and cell changes have been found in more than 50 women that were not initially detected due to a staff member’s mistake.

The re-examination of the 6,000 samples began in July after it was revealed that a serious mistake had been made while examining a cervical sample in 2018. Cellular changes indicating cancer should have been detected in the sample. The woman in question now has incurable cervical cancer. Of the 50 samples that have been since found with cellular changes, none have cancer.