THE 108 active volunteers of Cancerlink Foundation are the main strength behind the movement, said patron Toh Puan Dr Aishah Ong and chairman Joanne Fernandez.
The duo as well as other members in the board of trustee, deemed by many as the force that steers the foundation forward, unanimously said they were humbled by the volunteers’ unconditional contributions.
“They are the ones that keep this place vibrant all the time. Cancer has become a common illness, many have been affected by cancer in one way or another, either having to take care of a family member or losing a dear friend. They have felt the pain and pressure and they want to help others, so many volunteer their service at our centre,” she said.
Founded in 1986, Cancerlink Foundation provides various forms of support to cancer patients and their caretakers, in addition to creating better awareness on the disease through talks and activities.
Besides arts and sports activities, the foundation also holds annual camps for cancer patients of different age groups to maintain quality of life during and after cancer treatment.
Swimming instructor Daniel Goh and his wife Yulhaida were invited by the foundation to give free swimming classes to cancer patients. Although they were rather hesitant in the beginning as they were unsure of the patients’ acceptance, they never looked since the day the programme started.
“I am really moved by the patients’ high spirit, very few ordinary people can beat that kind of spirit. They are eager to learn despite their medical condition, and they enjoy every moment in the pool with a bright smile and open heart. They are really an inspiring lot,” he said.
In fact, the couple become so involved in the centre’s voluntary works that apart from conducting the classes, they and their daughter Merrizki would spend their free time at the centre drawing new activity programmes for patients, or simply offer their help in any way needed.
He said his family’s close involvement in the Cancerlink’s activities had given them the knowledge to take care of his sister-in-law, who lived in Indonesia, but spent her final days in Malaysia.
“With what we’ve learned from Cancerlink and from the patients we met, we could take care of her better while we brought her to see more places in the country as per her request. We are glad that we could also attend to her various needs to make her feel as comfortable as possible before she left,” he recalled.
Breast cancer survivor Bibee Mengadin is another passionate volunteer at Cancerlink since six years ago.
“Hospital gives you the medical attention but not moral support, this is where Cancerlink comes in. Just like every cancer patient, I was blank upon hearing the news and even after the surgery.
“Cancerlink volunteers came to me with a goodie bag of the things I need during recuperation, and led me through my recovery from there,” she recalled.
She was touched and thus set out to help others who needed the same. She counsels cancer patients with her own experiences during hospital rounds, and conducts weekly sessions for support group alongside other volunteers.
“I feel very good that through counselling, cancer patients and caretakers are more relieved about their condition and take the right steps to recovery. I am often saddened to hear that a cancer patient’s condition deteriorates due to lack of counselling,” she added.
Bibee has also inculcated the spirit of volunteerism in her four children. “They are happy to help whenever they can, this is a good form of education to teach them about social obligations,” she added.
Cancerlink Foundation that relies solely on public donations is digging into its reserve to run activities. If you would like to help, call 03-7956 9499/ 6419/7789, visit www.cancerlinkfoundation.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Donors are advised to check with the foundation if they do not receive a tax-exempt receipt within two weeks.