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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 5: Society for Cancer Advocacy and Awareness Kuching (SCAN) proposed that the Sarawak government set up a breast cancer aid resource facility to support patients with financial constraints.
Its president Sew Boon Lui raised this proposal when paying a courtesy call on Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah at her office in Bangunan Baitulmakmur II today.
“The aid will become a channel for those in need to seek relevant treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH),” she said in a media release.
Sew highlighted that poor financial support and geographical distance to seek treatment in the city centre were the main contributory factors to the defaulter rate and delayed in the presentation of breast cancer cases in Sarawak.
“A patient navigation centre, known as The Pink Ribbon Centre, set up through the joint collaboration between Sarawak General Hospital (SGH)’s Endocrine Surgery and Cancer Research Malaysia (CRM) found that 41 per cent of its patients earned less than RM2,000 per month.
“Of the 89 patients enrolled with the centre as of June 2020, 46 of them earned less than RM2,000 per month, followed by 18 patients (16 per cent) earned between RM2,000-RM3,000.
“Almost 50 per cent of the total patients were from districts outside of Kuching, and they have to spend between RM1,000-RM5,000 to come to SGH to seek treatment,” she added.
In SGH, Sew revealed that a total of 314 breast cancer patients were presented to the Surgical Outpatient Department over a period of January 2019 to June 2020.
Of the total, she revealed that 56 patients (18 per cent) were Stage 1, 114 (36 per cent) were Stage 2, while 144 (46 percent) were in advanced stages of either Stage 3 or 4.
“The majority of breast cancer patients or 67.5 per cent were aged between 41 to 60 years old.”
During the courtesy call, Fatimah also launched the ‘Guidebook for Cancer Patients’ in Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin published by SCAN in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.
The contents of the guidebook are adapted from its earlier publication in English entitled ‘So You Have Cancer – What Now?’ last July.
Fatimah congratulated SCAN for their thoughtful effort to reach out to various ethnic groups through the publications.
Contents of the books were collaboratively written by SCAN’s survivor members and caregivers.
The books described stages of the cancer journey and strategies to help patients cope and manage their lives as they experienced their own battles against cancer.
The guidebook aimed to help families, friends and community members who care for cancer, to learn about the disease, and to adapt and cope with its journey.
Both books are sold at RM15 each. Those interested to purchase a copy can contact SCAN’s Helpline at 082-387077, or to send a direct message on SCAN’s Facebook page at fb.com/scankch.
All proceeds will go to funding continuous initiatives to raise awareness about cancer and to advocate for advancing cancer research, improving the quality of cancer care, or addressing legislative and regulatory issues that affect cancer care and research in Sarawak and Malaysia.
The SCAN entourage consisted of advisor Datin Dayang Mariani Abang Zain, medical advisor Dr Adibah Ali and secretary Chris Cheng. — DayakDaily