Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, at 365 Cancer Prevention Society’s 2014 Gala Dinner, 21 Nov 2014

Rev Eric Chiam, Chairman of 365 Cancer Prevention Society,

Members of the Board of Directors,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

INTRODUCTION

1          A very good evening. I am honoured to be invited to 365 Cancer Prevention Society’s 2014 Gala Dinner. It is extremely heart-warming to see such a large turnout tonight. Your very presence here bears testament to your continued support and generosity in making a difference to the lives of cancer patients.

INCIDENCE OF CANCERS

2          Cancer is the top killer in Singapore. It accounted for about 31% of deaths (or about 5,700 deaths) in 2013[1]. While this is a significant figure, it is important to note that at least 1 in 3 cancers cases are potentially preventable [2]. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and cessation of smoking are some of the ways in which people can reduce their risk of developing certain cancers.

3          According to the World Health Organisation, the incidence of cancer cases worldwide is expected to increase by 57% in the next 20 years[3]. More than ever, the focus must now be on prevention. Apart from healthier lifestyle habits, regular health screening enables the early detection of cancers. So it is very good to go for regular screening as prescribed by the doctor. What is equally important too is having in place the right support structures for cancer patients as well as for their family members.

PROVIDING BETTER SUPPORT TO CANCER PATIENTS & FAMILY MEMBERS - A DAY ACTIVITY CENTRE

4          What would your first thought be if you were diagnosed with cancer? Have you ever thought of it?

I, for one, would be fearful of having to face the uncertainties, the pain of treatment, and death. The thought of having to leave family members behind, especially if your children are young, would be frightening. If the doctor told me that I had six months to live, I might even wonder, “Is there still any hope in treatment?”, or, “I do not want to be a burden to my family.” These are very often the thoughts of our cancer patients and just some of the everyday struggles and questions faced by cancer patients and their family members.

5          In particular, family members may feel challenged by the need to provide care to their loved one at home and fulfilling their responsibilities at work. In a small family setting, such challenges are often magnified many more times.

The solution from 365CPS

6          There are currently many Day Care Centres in Singapore for children and the elderly. However, to date, there are no day-activity services in Singapore specifically for cancer patients. I applaud 365 Cancer Prevention Society for their new initiative to develop day-activity services in the community that provide support to cancer patients and their family members in three practical ways. Firstly, by providing nutritious meals for patients with cancer as Reverend Chiam mentioned; Secondly, by equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to manage and combat cancer; Thirdly, by serving as a platform for fellow cancer patients to meet and share their experiences. Peer support is very important too.

7          With this in place, families of cancer patients would have peace of mind knowing their loved ones are well taken care of while they are at work. The patients themselves would also feel empowered, and less of a burden to their family.

8          Such positive interventions would go a long way in bolstering patients’ mental resilience when undergoing treatment.

9          I want to once again applaud the 365 Cancer Prevention Society and I look forward to seeing the completion of the first Day Activity Centre for cancer patients from 365 Cancer Prevention Society. To all cancer fighters: you are not alone. I think that there are many people supporting you.

Thank you very much. I wish you good health and season’s greetings


 

[1]https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/statistics/Health_Facts_Singapore/Principal_Causes_of_Death.html

[2] http://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/

[3] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/

 

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