Colorectal cancer survivors join in to fight disease

The crowd at the launch event enjoying themselves during the workshops as they are made aware of colorectal cancer.

Empowered – The Cancer Advocacy Society of Malaysia, launched its fifth annual colorectal cancer awareness, screening and treatment project (CCASTP) at PPR Hiliran Ampang, a large urban poor community in Kuala Lumpur, which has been pre-selected to be the society’s beneficiary for this year’s programme.

This project aims to save more lives from colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the commonest cancer in men, and second most common cancer in women in Malaysia.

Previous studies have shown that screening for this disease, followed by appropriate medical intervention, can lower disease-related morbidity and mortality.

Empowered's 2015 CCASTP officially kicked off during the launch event on April 19 after months of groundwork preparation. Late night meetings with community grass root leaders, volunteers’ training workshops, multiple rounds of door knocks to educate residents about the importance of colorectal cancer screening, were amongst some of the many pre-event activities to ensure that the society’s life-saving programme reaches every single high-risk resident of PPR Hiliran Ampang.

The launch event was officiated by the Health Ministry’s Director of Disease Control, Dr Chong Chee Keong. He said: “Empowered's colorectal cancer awareness, screening and treatment project is in line with the Health Ministry’s mission to address the needs of our community so that the people can fully attain their health potential, appreciate health as a valuable asset and take positive actions to further improve and sustain their health status.”

He also added that the Ministry strives to build partnerships with societies like Empowered towards building a healthier Malaysia.

At the awareness programme about this top cancer killer, which immediately followed the launch event, the residents of PPR Hilliran Ampang were educated about the facts of colorectal cancer, as well as its curability through early detection and treatment.

Three of the society’s inspirational beneficiaries and colorectal cancer survivors stepped up on that day, to passionately advocate for early detection through screening, by sharing their own cancer journeys, and the challenges overcomed by them and their loved ones.

Empowered continues to fine-tune its programme blueprint, which aims to address the real health needs of under-resourced Malaysian communities.

“Once diagnosed with cancer, the individual is suddenly faced with a multitude of fears and uncertainties about the future, and especially so when the affected individual is the family breadwinner. We need to address their emotional turmoil, and equip our beneficiaries with an accurate road map towards obtaining optimal medical intervention”, said Dr Christina Ng, the founder and president of Empowered, who is also a consultant medical oncologist.

She also added: “We are deeply indebted to the public’s generous donations which has enabled the society to ensure that all medical costs incurred by our beneficiaries during their cancer journey are covered.”

“I found out about the project from the banner hanging on the side of my building. I was so afraid to be screened but decided to go for the screening. I realised that I did not have to go through any painful procedure. EMPOWERED’s kind and helpful volunteers taught me how to use the FIT (Faecal Immunohistochemical Test) kit,” said Amna binti A. Hamid, a beneficiary from Empowered's 2014 CCASTP.

“I was having diarrhoea for a year but always thought my stomach was weak or that I ate something wrong. But it was only through EMPOWERED’s CCASTP that I was diagnosed and treated for colorectal cancer,” she shared in her testimony to the residents of PPR Hiliran Ampang.

Abdul Wahab bin Omar revealed his emotional turmoil as he battled early stage colorectal cancer last year. He is also a beneficiary of Empowered's 2014 CCASTP.

The crowd at the launch event enjoying themselves during the workshops as they are made aware of colorectal cancer.
The crowd at the launch event enjoying themselves during the workshops as they were made aware of colorectal cancer. Photo: EMPOWERED

During his moving testimony to the residents of PPR Hilliran Ampang, he shared: “I was overwhelmed by fear when I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I was confused over whether or not to continue my treatment, as some of my family members had advised me to go for traditional medicine.

“But I refused to consider alternative treatment. I had lost my sister to cancer as she sought alternative therapies. Empowered's volunteers treated me like family. They broke the bad news to me with as much tact as possible to lessen my shock and pain. They were there for me through my hospital visits and even my surgery.”

Since his cancer diagnosis, Abdul Wahab has been on the road to complete recovery after his curative surgery at Hospital Selayang last July.

Tan Chu Tea, a beneficiary and cancer survivor from Empowered's 2011 CCASTP, has been journeying with Empowered as an advocate for early colorectal cancer detection through proper screening. He shared, “I want to help others by telling them that, like me, they can have a second chance in life, if they proactively decide to go for colorectal cancer screening and receive proper treatment. I am so grateful that I am healthy again and I want all Malaysians to be cancer-free.”

Dr Ng shared: “In the context of rising healthcare costs in Malaysia, it is deeply satisfying for the Society to be able to bring this life-saving project to deserving segments of our Malaysian communities.

“We are ever deeply indebted to our partners who share in our passion and commitment to battle this top cancer killer in the country.”

Find out more about Empowered's work

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