Our Patient Advocacy Program is designed to empower cancer patients, especially the poor, to get access to the healthcare, information and treatment that they deserve in a dignified, comfortable and caring manner to help ease the pain that they are suffering. We understand that cancer patients are faced with many fears and worries, and it may be difficult to differentiate the facts from the myths during such turbulent times. Not everyone has the means to afford the necessary life-saving cancer treatments which can be very costly and beyond the reach of the less fortunate.
With a compelling mission to save lives, prevent cancer and serve the poor who are afflicted with cancer in Malaysia, EMPOWERED – The Cancer Advocacy Society of Malaysia (Persatuan Advokasi Kanser Malaysia) was founded by Dr. Christina Ng, a Consultant Medical Oncologist, in 2009. EMPOWERED is a non-profit organisation registered as a society, and has been granted tax-exempt status by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) of Malaysia.
Upon the much dreaded diagnosis of cancer, patients and their families go through very emotionally distressing times. It may be a time of confusion for patients and their caregivers, trying to come to terms with the diagnosis and trying to make sense of the whole situation in the midst of intimidating medical terms, conflicting advice from well-meaning folks, and having to make very difficult medical decisions based on very little understanding of what is happening, which may mean the difference between life and death for the patient.
Hence, EMPOWERED was formed to step in with a passionate professional team to bridge the gap and actively address the cancer disease from awareness to screening to treatment; and to help cancer patients, especially the poor, to gain timely access to the life-saving medical treatments and counselling, and to assure them that cancer is not necessarily a death sentence.
The first defence against cancer is early detection through regular screening. Studies have shown that the most common cancer affecting men is colorectal cancer, and it is the second most common cancer affecting women in Malaysia. Regular screening and early detection is crucial for the patients successful recovery. In April 2010, EMPOWERED colorectal cancer screening programs won the approval of the Medical Research Ethics Committee from the Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, lung cancer is ranked as one of the top 5 causes of cancer in both men and women, and it has the highest mortality rate in the world. While there remains no cure for lung cancer, early diagnosis and treatment gives the patient a higher chance for survival. In our fight against cancer, our community activities have been focused on regular screening for the under-privileged. Through fundings from private sectors, corporations and the general public, we have successfully achieved significant milestones in reaching out to the mass under-resourced communities through cohesive collaboration with government sectors, hospitals and clinics.
Since our inception in 2009, we have accomplished the following community projects:
We journey the extra mile with the patients and their families, including providing transportation to hospitals, medical centres or clinics, as well as giving personalised support to each individual patient, as the circumstances of each patient is unique. The effects of cancer can be devastating, not just physically but also extremely emotionally draining. We accompany the patients throughout their treatments and recovery process as their friend and companion to counsel, comfort and cheer them up, as some of them may be driven to the brink of despair by the circumstances. As their bodies undergo medical treatments, we seek to soothe their souls by sharing with them effective coping strategies and exercises. In times like these, EMPOWERED offer them hope towards holistic healing and recovery.
Our cancer survivors are our heroes who have fought and won the battle against cancer. We work with them to share their testimonies to inspire those undergoing cancer treatments, to encourage them not to give up hope, but to keep on fighting the good fight. Hope is crucial to the spirit and the healing process.
As everyone is different, we tailor and deliver personalised services that specially cater to the patients unique needs. We focus on being relevant in our community projects to reach out to the under-privileged communities and encourage increasing participation in our cancer awareness and screening workshops. We work closely together with hospitals, medical clinics, and the cancer patients to ensure patient compliance to the necessary medical treatments in order to beat the disease.
At some point, many cancer patients go through feeling a loss of control over their health. By taking up the simple responsibility to organise and file their own medical records and adhere to their doctors appointments, patients will start to feel a glimmer of hope and regain some semblence of control over their own lives.
The brainchild of Dr. Christina Ng, My Journal, was written from her heart, featuring information on the cancer disease, medical treatments, the side-effects, impact on the lives of the patients and caregivers, as well as worksheets in a filofax that enables patients to organise their treatment diary, doctors appointments and list of prescribed medication, and to systematically file their medical examination reports all in one place. My Journal was launched in February 2011 by the Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin.
Available now in 4 languages, the second edition of My Journal has been distributed for free to thousands of cancer patients in government hospitals with cancer care units through My Journal Book Campaign with the objective of giving a sense of ownership of their health back to the patients, besides helping them to organise their treatments and medication records.