MALAYSIA’S FIRST PATIENT SUPPORT GROUP FOR METASTATIC BREAST CANCER HELD ON 8TH FEBRUARY, 2018 AT MARMALADE CAFÉ, BANGSAR VILLAGE II
Pfizer Malaysia together with Breast Cancer Welfare Association (BCWA) officially launched ‘Pink InspirerS’ – Malaysia’s first ever patient-led support group focusing on Metastatic Breast Cancer (mBC). Founded by a group of volunteers comprising of mBC patients as well as breast cancer survivors, “Pink InspirerS’ sets out to empower all women living with mBC in Malaysia to live with dignity and take charge of their cancer journey. An often forgotten group of women who live each day with a difficult and incurable disease came together to share on the challenges they faced and what they want to achieve in the mBC community in Malaysia and their personal aspirations .
The official launch held at Marmalade Café were decorated with a hue of brown cute little furry bears, adorned with colourful ribbons and buttons with different catch words as each participants walked in at the registration counter and added the items on the bear given to them.
The launch of Pink InspirerS by BCWA forms part of Pfizer’s on-going community-based initiatives and commitment to breast cancer patients in Malaysia. Pfizer also recently launched a comprehensive resource guidebook – “Your Journey Starts Here: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer” designed to help mBC patients.
The Director of Corporate Affairs, Health & Value of Pfizer Malaysia, Noor Yang Azwar Kamarudin in her welcoming address, stressed that there is an urgent need to address the significant gap in support, awareness and public policy between mBC and early stage breast cancer.
“We believe it is critical for women with metastatic breast cancer to receive educational, emotional and psychosocial support as they navigate through their disease journey. Most importantly, they must not feel alone in their struggle. Due to the severity and gruelling effects dealing with mBC, many women are forced to give up their employment or reduce work hours, with some no longer able to look after their families,” said Noor Yang Azwar.
‘Pfizer hopes that the Pink InspirerS will provide an invaluable support network that unites all mBC patients in Malaysia, thus lending it a powerful and collective voice to break the strong social stigma associated with metastatic breast cancer and address important patient issues such as legal rights, advocacy, employment, access to advanced treatments and cancer care.”
The Mentor of Pink InspirerS and President of Breast Cancer Welfare Association, Ranjit Kaur shared on the Mission and Roadmap for Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer (mBC) to Live with Dignity.
“Pink InspirerS aims to be the ‘voice’ that ignites hope for all women living with advanced breast cancer. We provide mutual support by sharing our own experiences and offering inspiration to others. We also want to educate the public on the disease and remind patients that they can still live rich and meaningful lives with better care, improved treatment and strong family support,” said Ranjit Kaur.
“Our immediate goal is to identity and train select groups of volunteers comprising both patients and care-givers in each state in turn, they will help carry out the mission of ‘Pink InspirerS’ which is to educate and inspire all mBC patients to live with dignity and hope,” Ranjit added.
As part of its key initiatives for 2018, the Pink InspirerS will embark on a nationwide outreach programme across Peninsular and East Malaysia to connect with existing and newly diagnosed mBC patients in order to provide peer support training and essential skills on how to cope with their cancer journey. Among the priority areas include improving doctor-patient communication, psychosocial training as well as dealing with financial and employment-related issues.
Our Story and Aspiration, an inspiring sharing session by the founding members of Pink InspirerS followed. A video presentation entitled “My Journey of Hope” by Chang Chu San, another founding member of Pink InspirerS was truly inspiring. “Our need for support and encouragement never ends as we will always be on treatment. Unfortunately, there is also a lack of empathy and understanding within our society on the plight and needs of those diagnosed with mBC. We often face our “end-of-road’ journey alone, while the rest of the world views us as a ‘lost cause’,” said Chang.
Metastatic Breast Cancer (mBC) or also known as advanced breast cancer occurs when breast cancer spreads beyond the breast to other parts of the body. As there is no known cure for mBC today, the mental and emotional toll of coping with metastatic disease can be profound. In terms of how women feel about themselves, communicate with others and even live their daily lives. Research has shown that mBC patients feel isolated alone, depressed, ignored and under-represented in larger breast cancer community. The psychological stress from life-long treatments and financial burden is significant not only for the patient themselves, but for their caregivers and family. Newly diagnosed mBC patients especially require special attention and a strong support network to cope with the disease.
The official launch, aptly named “One Voice to Ignite Hope” was declared officially by Pfizer and Founding Members of Pink InspirerS. Pfizer Malaysia presented a RM60,000 grant to assist Pink InspirerS in forming the support group and rolling-out its nationwide outreach programme.
Visit www.facebook.com/pg/AdvancedBreastCancer/ for more information on Pink InspirerS