TO ERADICATE BREAST CANCER AS A LIFE - THREATENING DISEASE
I never thought I would get breast cancer. It was a
difficult period for me but with the help of my family,
my support group at Breast Cancer Foundation, and my doctors,
I have finally come to terms with my cancer and learnt to face it. More..
- Breast Cancer Survivor
~ Winston Churchill
Last year marked a new beginning for BCF on several fronts, and also saw new records set in several areas. The ‘Watsons Pink Ribbon Walk’ launched Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2011 (BCAM) in October and that event attracted more than 5,000 participants – the largest we have ever had for a BCAM launch event.
It brought together many sectors of the community creating a pretty pink scene, all responding to the year’s theme for BCAM, ’Treasure the Breast Things in Life.’ Minister of Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, was the Guest-of-Honour.
Landmark events included the Pink Glove Dance, which saw BCF being featured in the Singapore Book of Records for having the largest number of participants to ever participate in a pink glove dance.
The evening’s highlight was the annual iconic building lightup ceremony by The Estee Lauder Companies as part of its Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. The Singapore Flyer was lit in pink by Mrs Mary Tan, wife of Dr Tony Tan, President of Singapore.
Our ’warrior’ dragon boaters, Paddlers in The Pink (PIP), continued to perform spectacularly. They had the benefit of two new and sturdier pink boats donated by two separate corporations, to BCF.
Our award-winning dragon boaters’ tenacity, enthusiasm, and never-give-up spirit have resounded very well with the community.
As part of our ‘Healing Through the Arts’ programme, our Ladies In The Pink danced their way through the hearts of many, sending the clear message that with early detection, there can be life after breast cancer.
While our greatest achievement is knowing that our message of the importance of early detection is reaching out, the bigger challenge is translating this message into tangible action. Unfortunately, the screening and re-screening numbers are still below expectation.
In particular, the financially-challenged women in the vulnerable 50 to 65 age group within our community require special attention. They need to be educated on breast cancer awareness, and their families and peer groups need to be motivated to encourage these women to empower themselves to go for regular screening.
We have also streamlined our administrative procedures and strengthened our staff skills and are already seeing the positive impact of these measures.
In my report last year, I highlighted the following three areas BCF would focus on to heighten our effectiveness in raising awareness and advocacy:
The highlight of this initiative was the introduction of BCF’s Empowerment Programme which has benefited many and helped them to realise their true inner strength and potential. This should help them to be more effective advocates and counsellors. We intend to enhance this programme with more modules and make it available to a larger s egment of the community. This, in turn, can help us to be more effective in encouraging regular screening.
Our challenge will be to access the right profile of professional trainers who share our vision. As BCF develops, on-going education is essential to enhance our effective outreach to the community.
Our MSL members have continued to reach out to the men in the community and engaged them in the fight against breast cancer. They have also shared their experience at panel discussions. Together with their spouses, they spent considerable time with breast cancerstricken women, their husbands, and families, providing them with emotional support.
Our own survivors’ experiences are very powerful in delivering the message of early detection to all men, to enable them to be a source of encouragement for their female loved ones to go for regular screening.
This initiative has progressed significantly last year. More Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) have requested for talks by BCF as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) events. We have to work harder to encourage more companies to follow suit.
BCF, in collaboration with The Estee Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, alongside with NHG Diagnostics’ Mammobus, provides subsidised screening to the financially-challenged.
Our signature ‘Wear the Pink Ribbon’ contest has also helped in our outreach to the corporations.
We are deeply encouraged by many corporations’ participation and interest in BCF’s mission. In this new financial year, we plan to launch a ‘corporate donor scheme’ whereby corporations can commit to donate for pre-defined periods and amounts. This will enable us to plan and implement our outreach programmes more efficiently.
Many of our survivors enjoy sharing their breast cancer journey, particularly at our talks and events. The “rolemodel” approach by our volunteers, both men and women, is of benefit to all.
Going forward, we will continue to direct funds towards breast cancer-related community outreach programmes, and collaborations with our various partners who share our common cause. We will also direct our resources towards breast health education, counselling, and volunteer training, staff enhancement training sessions, as well as funding our administrative costs.
We face challenging times ahead but we are very fortunate in that our cause is being recognised and appreciated by many.
Women make up 50 percent of Singapore’s population and are important contributors to the joint family income. Early detection means more treatment options, and faster recovery. This will ensure continuity of lifestyle and sustained benefit to society.
Our fervent wish, and surely that of our partners in this fight against breast cancer, is to see a steady drop in the overallbreast cancer mortality rate, made possible by a combination of regular screening and better awareness.
On behalf of BCF, I wish to thank our sponsors and community partners, the collaborative bodies during BCAM – National Cancer Centre Singapore, National University Cancer Institute, Singapore Cancer Society, the Ministry of Health, and the Health Promotion Board, for their guidance and leadership. I would also like to thank our dedicated volunteers, staff and the EXCO members who have worked very hard during the year. We are also extremely grateful to our esteemed Patron, Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon who has, as always, been a staunch believer in our cause.
I am positive that this time next year we would have reached yet another milestone in our mission to “Eradicate Breast Cancer as a Life-threatening Disease” and in advocating that “Early Detection can Save Lives and Breasts.”
Much has been done but much more needs to be done. We need to reach out on an even larger scale and at a faster rate to be fully effective. We cannot do it alone. We need the concerted efforts of all to succeed.
It is not fair for the breast cancer-stricken woman to fight this battle alone. It is not fair that her family and society should suffer because of ignorance that there can be life after breast cancer, with early detection.
We must be committed.
We must care and share.
We must be positive.
We must never, never, never give up.
Mrs Noor Quek
Breast Cancer Foundation