The Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia (BCWA), Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM), and National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM), together with Pfizer Malaysia jointly launched the inaugural “National Thrive Week”, bringing to life a platform that shines a light on the advanced cancer community so that everyone living with cancer – the early, the locally advanced, the metastatic – can feel equally supported as they live life to the fullest.
The event was witnessed by the Caretaker Health Minister of Malaysia, Yang Berhormat Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar as well as Mdm Liew Swee Lee, Secretary of BCWA; Dr Anand Sachithanandan, President of LCNM & Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon; Dr Dalilah Kamaruddin, Head and Medical Officer of the Cancer and Health Screening Clinic at National Cancer Society Malaysia; Mdm Luksanawan Thangpaibool, Country Cluster Lead, Pfizer Malaysia, Brunei & Pakistan; and invited guests.
“Cancer is so common that half of all men and a third of women will get a diagnosis of cancer in their lifetimes¹. In Malaysia, 49,000 people were estimated to be newly diagnosed with cancer in 2020, with this figure expected to rise to more than 66,000 new cases annually by 2030². However, there is no telling what the events of the last two years will do to the projected number. Treatment delays and redistributed hospital resources lead to late diagnoses,” said Yang Berhormat Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, Caretaker Health Minister of Malaysia.
“We already know that screening programmes, early diagnosis and intervention will improve the quality of life for cancer patients, but what merits further consideration and action is the sustainability of cancer care and treatment options for those living with cancer – the early, the locally advanced and the metastatic. We also need to acknowledge financial hardships faced by patients, galvanise public-private partnerships and keep pushing health literacy rates upwards with education and awareness programmes.”
“I would like to thank and applaud all parties involved in the launch of the inaugural “National Thrive Week” today. I hope this campaign will bring greater understanding and acceptance for all who are living with cancer currently,” added Yang Berhormat Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar.
Let’s thrive together with information, answers and hope
Activities will be jointly organised by BCWA, LCNM, NCSM and Pfizer Malaysia, to raise awareness of advanced and metastatic cancer, in-conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Lung Cancer Awareness Month in October and November respectively. Highlights include:
A moderated public forum titled “Thrive in The Moment: An Insight Into Living With Cancer” which was a valuable sharing session between Mdm Chang Chu San, a metastatic breast cancer warrior, Dr Tho Lye Mun, Vice President of LCNM and Clinical Oncologist, as well as Ms Sri Ram Seetha, Special Needs Interventionist and Certified Play Therapist, NCSM.
The launch of Thrive-Malaysia.com website, a comprehensive digital resource for newly diagnosed locally advanced and metastatic patients and their caregivers where they will have access to an array of health tips and articles, educational videos as well as a downloadable patient guidebook and audiobook to help patients and their loved ones better navigate this cancer ‘journey’ of screening, diagnosis, staging, treatment and surveillance
A walk with BCWA to rally the breast cancer community in Malaysia, celebrating their journey of living life to the fullest and thriving amid the diagnosis, in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
A social media livestream by LCNM titled ‘Is It Lung Cancer?’ with Dr Hilmi Lockman, Respiratory & Internal Medicine Consultant
A virtual tour of NCSM’s Tun Abdul Razak Digital Library to introduce available resources including books, reports, booklets and other educational material on cancer prevention, care, treatment, and support to the cancer community.
Additionally, the campaign will continue its awareness efforts through the four organisations’ social media platforms with content such as empowering bite-sized videos from cancer survivors, digital symposiums, and more to inspire the cancer community.
“Breast and lung cancer are the top two most common cancers, as well as the leading cause of cancer deaths globally³ ´⁴. The situation catalysed the idea of National Thrive Week and spurred us to collaborate with our valued partners – BCWA, LCNM and NCSM – bringing to life this platform. We envision National Thrive Week to become a yearly affair to collate resources and support for people living with advanced cancer. Our goal is to rally the public to get involved by being a provider of information, answers, and hope,” said Mdm Luksanawan Thangpaibool, Country Cluster Lead, Pfizer Malaysia, Brunei & Pakistan.
In Malaysia, about 95% of lung cancer are diagnosed at advanced stages, whereas even when diagnosed early, up to 30% of women with early breast cancer will eventually progress to metastatic disease.
“At BCWA, we understand that a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis can be emotionally and physically challenging, but patients do not have to travel this path alone. For we have founded a metastatic breast cancer patient support group to focus on issues surrounding mBC patients including psychosocial support, access to treatment and advocacy. We look forward to making a positive difference where everyone living with breast cancer – the early, the locally advanced and the metastatic- can feel equally supported,” said Mdm Liew Swee Lee, Secretary of BCWA.
Her sentiments were echoed by Dr Dalilah Kamaruddin, Head and Medical Officer of the Cancer and Health Screening Clinic at NCSM. “Every cancer patient’s experience is different, but knowledge and the right support can help them navigate their journey of living with cancer. Treating cancer takes more than just the right treatment and medication. Our aim at NCSM is to ensure that no Malaysian fears cancer by creating a better understanding of cancer that leads to prevention and early detection. We strive to support patients and caregivers with a holistic approach through educational initiatives on the disease and how to deal with cancer in various phases,” said Dr Dalilah Kamaruddin.
The burden of cancer exerts tremendous physical, emotional, and financial strain on these individuals as well as families, communities, and others whose lives are also touched by the disease. Anxiety over money and jobs, difficulties scheduling and getting to multiple appointments and the general emotional turmoil that comes with a devastating diagnosis are challenges those living with cancer have to overcome.
Dr Anand Sachithanandan, who is President of LCNM explained that many lung cancer patients continue to live well after their diagnosis owing to medical advances. “It is important to know that lung cancer is potentially curable if detected early and multi-modality therapy with a multi-disciplinary approach can ensure many patients live longer, meaningful lives after being diagnosed8. We welcome a future where the community has a greater understanding of lung cancer so that we can achieve true stage migration with more cases diagnosed at an early stage and a reduction in mortality from lung cancer,” said Dr Anand.
National Thrive Week 2022 hopes to inspire the cancer community in Malaysia to thrive amid the diagnosis. It is most likely that you know of someone living with cancer. Get involved by being a provider of information, answers, and hope. To learn more about National Thrive Week 2022, please visit https://www.thrive-malaysia.com/