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Many people become understandably demoralised and dejected when they get sombre news from the doctor that they have cancer. Their families too find it hard to accept this condition. Treatment for cancer is expensive and many patients have had to sell their property and dip into life savings to pay for this life-threatening illness; and there is no guarantee that one can survive.
Dr. Joe Kahl, the Chief of Psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente (USA) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After going through a set of treatments, he thought that he was cured of the deadly disease. But he was so wrong. The cancer returned and Dr Kahl was given only a few months to live. With kids to support in college, the doctor who was under 50 years could not face his friends. Devastated, he questioned why he had to suffer such a fate when he had maintained a healthy lifestyle.
"I often wonder why I got cancer. I had been good. I never smoked. I watched my diet. I exercised. I do not drink excessively. Never took drugs. I go to church regularly. From all signs, I had been living a model life. So, why me?" the despondent doctor asked.
About 10 years ago, I used to hear loud groans and moaning coming from opposite my block. The man lived on the upper floors. Neighbours said he was suffering from cancer. A few weeks later, there was a loud thud on the pavement; the neighbor who was in severe pain for weeks had fallen from his flat.
There were reports in our local newspaper of two gusto citizens who managed to beat the odds in fighting cancer. Some find that if there’s community support, chances are that patients who have cancer can find renewed hope with medication and emotional aide – as with the case of Tony Leo, a digital marketer who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. He managed to secure free medicine for his condition from the pharmaceutical firm, Novartis, in exchange for his medical records to aid research.
Then there is Ms Calin Tan who was diagnosed with breast cancer 7 years ago, was able to mitigate her ordeal by joining a support group under the Singapore Cancer Society. To pay it forward as a cancer survivor, she hopes to share her experience and coping skills with fellow patients.
Community counts, and we should work towards an inclusive, understanding and empathetic society
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO