Messages of hope and empowerment for World Cancer Day

|     Rokiah Mahmud     |

THE Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC) at the Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC) held a press conference yesterday, in observation of World Cancer Day which is celebrated annually on February 4.

The press conference was led by Medical Director of Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC) and Director of The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC) Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran and Head of Early Detection and Cancer Prevention Unit at the TBCC Datin Dr Nuraslinah binti Haji Ramlee.

During the event, Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran disclosed that TBCC is working very closely with the Ministry of Health, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders in the fight against cancer.

“This shows Brunei Darussalam’s commitment to cancer patients and the community; and to stop the increasing number of unavoidable deaths from cancer as health institutions and other stakeholders take action to address cancer risk factors as part of the pledge of the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) to which TBCC is a proud member of,” he said. Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran also explained that acquiring more knowledge on the subject could help to reduce incidences of cancer.

“Prevention and risk reduction are an important personal obligation, since at least one-third of cancers can be prevented by quitting smoking, practising a healthy lifestyle, no alcohol intake, taking vaccinations against certain infections and making healthy choices for ourselves and our families,” he said.

Medical Director of Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre and Director of The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC) Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran
Head of Early Detection and Cancer Prevention Unit at the TBCC Datin Dr Nuraslinah binti Haji Ramlee. – PHOTOS: ROKIAH MAHMUD

In addition to the efforts made by the Brunei Government and the TBCC’s actions, the concept that ‘Health is everybody’s business’ was further highlighted in the press conference, which resonated with a core resounding and empowering message in the theme of ‘I Am and I Will’ for World Cancer Day that will continue for three years until 2021.

“‘I Am and I Will’ is about being empowered and about taking personal commitment to actively fight cancer – that you are the hero of this story. Whoever you are, it is you who have to make the commitment,” said Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran. “You have the power to reduce the impact of cancer on yourself, the people you love and the world in general. You are empowered to fight this, and not just leave it to others and the health authorities and the governments to fight it. It is your fight!”

Meanwhile, Datin Dr Nuraslinah said that early detection and prevention can lead to a better outcome for the top five cancers in Brunei Darussalam, including those affecting the breast, colon and cervix.

“Mortality from cancer can be reduced if these cases are detected and treated early,” she said. “There are two components to early detection.

“The first is seeking help at the awareness of early signs and symptoms of cancer, in order to get them diagnosed and treated at early stage. In the absence of any early detection or screening and treatment intervention, patients are diagnosed at very late stages when curative treatment is no longer an option.

“In screening, we aim to identify individuals with abnormalities suggestive of speech cancer or pre-cancer and refer them promptly for treatment, or when feasible, for diagnosis and treatment.

“Therefore, it is important to emphasise early detection, prevention and screening for early signs of cancer.

“We need to educate more people to recognise the symptoms and signs of cancer, and to come forward if they feel that something is not right with their health and bodies, including that of their family members.

“We need to break the idea among us that cancer is a taboo subject to talk about, discuss or even mention. Our Early Detection and Cancer Prevention Unit aims to coordinate care to serve this purpose,” she explained.