The over 420 participants stood up and went through the BSE motions together
Both men and women learnt about BSE in Sandakan
Some 100 school students in Sandakan learnt about BSE at the forum
L to R: The three speakers of the public forum - Dr. Azlinah, Joseph Tek and Mary Alex Mansiw-Tek
Dr Azlinah spoke on breast cancer in general
Mary Alex Mansiw-Tek at the English-speaking BSE demonstration booth
A schoolgirl at the Malay-speaking BSE demonstration booth
A group of students appreciating the breast models at the BSE Booth
The forum organising committee comprised of IJM Plantation staff, members of Sandakan Breast Health Awareness Committee and other personnel from Duchess of Kent Hospital
Breast Health Awareness- Extended to the younger generation – 25 April 2009
By Glenda Pang
“What can I do? I have a woman’s disease.” This optimistic response of a fifty-eight year old man sent jolts of laughter through the audience. A total contrast of what would have been expected to be a sombre topic, turned out to be an exciting and educational day at Sabah Hotel, Sandakan on Saturday, 25 April, 2009.
Breast cancer is the top cancer amongst Malaysian women. For every 100 women with cancer, 31 of them will be diagnosed as breast cancer patients (National Cancer Registry, 2003). As fear and ignorance continue to be the main factors why Malaysians shun early detection and treatment, further awareness programmes are deemed necessary. This is because the best chance of cure for breast cancer is to treat it at its earliest stage and that is where early detection plays a vital role.
Sponsored and organized by IJM Plantations Berhad in collaboration with the Sandakan Breast Health Awareness Committee of the Duchess of Kent Hospital, a highly successful public forum on “Breast Health” was held as an effort to raise awareness among the public, specifically the secondary students in Sandakan, on early detection via breast self examination (BSE) as well as the importance of mammograms. A total of 420 participants, men and women, turned up for the forum. Admission was free. The forum is a continuing effort by IJM Plantations Berhad to be a good corporate citizen by pursuing its corporate social responsibility (CSR) via contribution to the local community of Sandakan. Since Year 2006, IJM Plantations Berhad has been holding public forums and demonstrations in Sandakan, Apin-Apin and Keningau in Sabah.
The forum was kicked off by Puan Norhayati Bte Said, an anaesthesia specialist, on behalf of the Director of Duchess of Kent Hospital and was followed by three talks conducted in Bahasa Malaysia and a demonstration session for BSE.
The first speaker, Dr Azlinah Firzah Abdul Aziz, a surgeon with Pantai Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, provided a general introduction to breast cancer. According to her, breast cancer is the commonest cancer amongst Malaysian women. Contrary to the general thinking, men can also get breast cancer. However, to our relief, there is hope for breast cancer patients, especially when treatment is sought at an earlier stage.
The second speaker, Mr. Joseph Tek Choon Yee, the Executive Director of IJM Plantations Berhad presented an introduction to the goodness of palm oil and subsequently an update on a clinical trial by Dr Kalanithi Nesaratnam who is with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) on palm oil’s vitamin E (tocotrienols). He highlighted that there are different types of vitamin E as it is a collective name for a set of 8 related α-, β-, γ-, and δ-tocopherols and the corresponding 4 tocotrienols, which are fat-soluble vitamins with antioxidant properties. There are different responses in relation to the types of vitamin E. The research findings by Dr Kalanithi’s work indicate that there has been significant improvement on survival rates for women on tocotrienols and tamoxifen compared to tamoxifen alone. The scientific works of Dr Kalanithi are expected to be published soon.
The final speaker, Madam Mary Alex Mansiw-Tek, demonstrated the correct technique to carry out breast self examination (BSE) and highlighted the importance of practising BSE monthly. An annual mammogram is encouraged for women aged 40 and above. Mary, a trained radiographer also happens to be one of those driving the setting up of the breast health awareness programmes in Sandakan. Many participating students (about 100 of them) expressed their appreciation to being able to find out more about breast cancer and BSE.
The forum ended with a demonstration session for BSE conducted in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese. The Sandakan Breast Health Awareness Committee plans to work with more secondary schools in reaching out to students on BSE.