Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman launched the new Children’s Cancer Foundation (YASKA) Community Centre at Jalan Pengiran Babu Raja in a ceremony yesterday.
The new centre will provide the much needed space for cancer survivors to conduct activities which include arts and crafts, baking and cooking sessions, talks and mini “graduation day” for the children who fought and won their fight against cancer, in celebration of their courage and strength.
Upon arrival, Her Royal Highness was welcomed by YASKA Advisor Dr Hajah Norehan binti Haji Johari and YASKA Vice President Tsara Nawarrah binti Abdullah.
“Every year, it is estimated that over 400,000 children and adolescents below 20 years old are diagnosed with cancer (World Health Organization data from December 2021) globally, which means a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes,” said Dr Hajah Norehan.
According to the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital-based cancer registry, “Some 117 children below the age of 12 have been diagnosed with cancer between 2010 to 2022”, Dr Hajah Norehan added.
“YASKA was founded in 2011 to provide support to children with cancer and their families, and to raise awareness on childhood cancer in Brunei Darussalam.
“With increased awareness of childhood cancer in the community, people are more vigilant of the early signs of cancer, leading to early diagnosis and treatment and increased survival.
“Alhamdulillah, deaths from cancer in children has decreased from 31 per cent to 27 per cent in the last 12 years.”
She added, “With improved survival, we are seeing more childhood cancer survivors. This centre will provide continued support to childhood cancer survivors and improve their quality of life.
“It will provide a place for social and recreational activities for the children, as well as a place for academic learning and support, therapeutic play and caregiver support.”
She paid tribute to institutions and companies instrumental in the development of YASKA and announced that YASKA is now a member of the largest parent support organisation Childhood Cancer International, which has members in 94 countries.
Dr Hajah Norehan also shared the story of a young cancer patient.
“Aishah was diagnosed with neuroblastoma (a rare form of cancer) in 2019. Her cancer journey was long and difficult.
“Aishah left us recently, on May 3, at the age of seven after battling cancer for four years.
“The reason I share her story is because her mother said Aishah’s fondest memories throughout her treatment were the activities she could do in the ward – she particularly enjoyed nail painting and baking. Your support made it possible for YASKA to provide these activities and achieve our slogan, ‘For we can all reach the stars’.”
Following the ribbon cutting, Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah binti Pengiran Haji Salleh Ab Rahaman met with some cancer survivors.
One of the cancer survivors, Danish Aliuddin bin Md Noorizan, presented a pesambah of a painting to Her Royal Highness.
Her Royal Highness proceeded to take a closer look of a mini exhibition on the mission of YASKA, the incidence of cancer in children (the number of cancer cases in children per year) in Brunei over the last 20 years, the long term complication that childhood cancer survivors face as they grow older and the main aim of the new centre.
Her Royal Highness also signed a plaque commemorating the opening of the new centre.