Protecting friends

  • Health
  • Sunday, 22 May 2011

Malaysians join hands to fight cervical cancer by pledging to protect their best friends.

A CAMPAIGN by the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) and supported by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical (GSK), the “Fight Cervical Cancer in Style Best Friends Forever” (BFF) campaign, an extension of the Power Over Cervical Cancer (POCC) campaign, culminated with the “POCC Celebrate Life With Your BFF Pink Party” recently.

POCC was launched in July 2009 to create and sustain awareness on cervical cancer and empower and encourage women to discuss with their healthcare professionals and seek protection against the disease through Pap smears and vaccination.

POCC embarked on a new phase with its BFF campaign in September 2010.

Over the eight-month period, the BFF campaign met its objective of raising awareness on cervical cancer education and empowered Malaysians to reach out to their best friends – women they care about – to spread the message of protection and reduce their risk of the disease.

A digital photo pledge drive was mobilised to facilitate this, with over 4,500 Malaysians pledging to protect their BFFs from cervical cancer. The digital photo pledges were also facilitated through a team of dynamic young women known as the Roving Pinkies, who made on-ground appearances at selected shopping malls and colleges/universities.

This feat marked the largest number of pledges collected towards cervical cancer and was proudly displayed at the party in the form of a photo montage.

The party also saw the forging of a new partnership with renown fashion brand, Anna Sui, who joins current campaign partners such as Reebok, L’Oréal Pureology, Mell Basics, Nose, Cleo and Cosmopolitan Magazine. Anna Sui will be placing collection boxes at all their counters nationwide to raise funds for POCC from June to December 2011.

At the party, NCSM was also presented with cheques and tokens from each partner, symbolising their commitment and support of POCC in championing the fight against cervical cancer.

Common cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), and represents the second most common cancer globally amongst women.

In Malaysia, it is the third most common cancer amongst women after breast and colorectal cancer.

In 2006, cervical cancer accounted for 9.1% of all female cancers in Peninsula Malaysia .

“Cervical cancer affects women in the prime of their lives, often affecting their career and family,” said Dr Saunthari Somasundaram, president and medical director of the NCSM. “Realising this, POCC was born from the NCSM’s vision to prevent premature deaths due to this highly preventable and identifiable disease,” Dr Saunthari explained further.

Dr Saunthari credited the success of POCC to the constant dedication of its partners: “I would like to thank all the partners who have journeyed with us on POCC – GSK, Reebok, L’oreal Pureology, Mell Basics, Nose, Cleo and Cosmopolitan Magazine. You have generously contributed your time and support towards POCC and its events and we are constantly encouraged by your passion and dedication towards this cause. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome on board our newest partner, Anna Sui,” said Dr Saunthari.

“We are very encouraged by the response garnered towards the BFF campaign. This has further compelled us to fulfil our mission of enabling people to do more, feel better, and live longer, and we are committed towards engaging the public in future education and awareness initiatives,” said Choong Kit Son, Vaccines Business Unit Director, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Malaysia.

Also speaking at the party was Genevieve Sambhi, POCC Ambassador and cervical cancer survivor, who shared that she is honoured to be a part of the POCC campaign to help raise awareness and educate women on the importance of early detection and prevention of cervical cancer.

“Being a cervical cancer survivor myself, it is my hope that nobody should have to go through what I did. Therefore, I have made it my personal mission to ensure that all Malaysian women are equipped with adequate information on cervical cancer and how they can be protected,” said Sambhi.

Five other popular personalities have come forward to volunteer as POCC ambassadors – Pamela Chong, Vanessa Chong, Siow Hui Mei, Rina Omar, Genevieve Sambhi and Sarimah Ibrahim. These celebrities are the spokespersons for appropriate media opportunities, highlighting the POCC campaign as well as creating awareness on cervical cancer.

Other components of the BFF campaign included the Pink Bazaar and Auction, which raised more than RM8,000 for the NSCM Cancer Fund to support cancer patients through cancer related activities, and the BMW Malaysian Open 2011, where POCC was selected as the official charity.

For more information about the campaign, visit The POCC website has been revamped to present information in a fresh and engaging manner. The website features interactive pages to support online photo pledges and story submissions for people to share their experiences with cervical cancer to instil hope and inspire others who are battling the disease.

Comprehensive information on cervical cancer, its symptoms and risk factors are presented via engaging videos, while the Cervical Cancer Risk Questionnaire and prevention strategies enable visitors to find out how they can protect themselves and their loved ones.

About National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) – Established in 1966, The National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) is a registered charity body that provides education, care and support services to people affected by cancer. It is the first cancer-related NGO established in Malaysia, and the only charity body that provides an extensive range of cancer services, treatment and support to the public. For more information, visit

Related Story:

HPV and cervical cancer

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Health , women's health , cervical cancer


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