Thursday, Dec 14th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 29 October 2017 00:00

Understand Cancer, a Hopeful Life Journey Ahead

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team,KL & Selangor / Translated by Goh Hwe Yong

TIMA KL & Selangor held a Cancer Forum to raise awareness in the prevention and treatment of cancer. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]

Is cancer deadly? Most people feel scared at the mention of the word “cancer”, and when told they have it, all at once life seems to come to an end. For people at high risk, or even cancer patients, cancer surely seems deadly. However, either it is a misdiagnosis, wrong treatment, or delayed treatment that causes the high death toll. In fact, cancer needs not be a terminal disease if regular health checks are carried out. Early detection is the key to timely treatment.


In recent years, cancer as a disease has been on the rise. There is an urgent need to create cancer awareness among the general public. Hence, TIMA KL & Selangor held a cancer forum, themed “Understand Cancer, a Hopeful Life Journey Ahead”, on October 29, 2017, at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. The aim was to share professional information, and offer an opportunity for the public to clear their doubts about the disease and to find the right treatment courses available, so as to reclaim health.

On that day, over a thousand eager participants from many local communities, as well as, Tzu Chi volunteers, punctually reported for the event.

Professional and experienced speakers of high calibre

TIMA members put in a lot of efforts in inviting an impressive group of medical professionals to share their knowledge in their special fields. Fourteen local and overseas medical professionals were ready to enlighten the participants. Among them were Oncologist, Haematologist, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, nutritionist, dietician and critical care consultant. They talked on three main fields: prevention and early detection, cancer treatment, and palliative care. A better understanding through these talks, which had debunked myths and misunderstanding about cancer, brought hopes for many.

Dr Ho Gwo Fuang, Consultant Clinical Oncologist with Universiti Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC), gave the first talk in the forum. He showed the 2012 WHO global statistics on estimated cancer incidence and mortality rate. General observations from the statistics indicated that advanced nations have a higher rate of cancer incidence. This was due to stress, diet and lifestyle. On the other hand, developing nations of the world have a relatively lower rate of occurrence, but mortality rate of these nations were higher. Better medical technologies are available for effective treatments in advanced nations, hence a markedly lower mortality rate.

Statistics for Malaysia indicate that each year, about 37,000 new cases of cancer occur. The top five cancers in women are breast cancer, colon cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer and ovarian cancer; whereas in men, the most common cancers are lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, nasal cancer and stomach cancer.

Gene mutation can lead to cancer. The main causes of cancer include bio-toxicity within the body, abnormal daily routines, viruses, radiation and heredity. Dr Ho explained that toxins and poisons, such as, feed additives given to livestock to promote increase in lean meat, plasticizers, hormones, Beta-adrenergic agonist (to promote increase in meat muscles in livestock) and antibiotics, are hiding in unexpected corners.

It is reported that plasticizers increase the risk of breast cancer, and the presence of microplastics is everywhere, especially in water sources. Dr Ho pointed out that common consumer products that are toxic are found in cling-wraps, plastic cups and toys. He sighed that it is not easy at all to stop the use of plastics, as it concerned the macro environment.

Based on statistics taken from the Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety, Dr Ho explained the ways to avoid exposure to dioxins, which are highly toxic environmental pollutants. He said, “Animals have higher dioxin contents than plants. Most dioxins are concentrated in the fatty tissues. It is therefore wise to avoid taking too much animal fat. A balanced diet is important.”

According to EU’s Science Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health, residual hormones found in bovine meat can cause sexual precocity in girls; it also increases the risks of cancer, especially breast cancer. Residual hormones also disrupt the human hormone production system, leading to puberty problems, disturbed production system and risks of prostate and colon cancer.

At personal level, diet and exercise play a crucial role in cancer risk. When meat becomes an essential part of one’s diet, and animal fat finds its way into the diet, the direct effect is an increase in cancer incidences. Dr Ho explained that human beings by nature should be herbivorous. Eating grains, which contain fibres, could reduce the risk of cancer. He said that although it is a widely known fact that smoking is a health hazard, the smoking population has increased; and lack of physical work and exercise is one of the problems in today’s world.

Cancer prevention and treatment

Dr Teo Soo Hwang from the Cancer Research Malaysia spoke on the topic, “Is Cancer Preventable”? She said that from the cancer risk for men and women, basically about 50% of cancers is preventable. Dr Teo gave an example that regular daily routines and good dietary habits are important as preventive measures. Also, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, reducing consumption of food with chemical additives, abstain from smoking and alcohol, are also important factors in preventing cancer.

Since 2010, cancer has become the world’s No 1 health hazard. Not only that, cancer cases and death from cancer would increase by two times in 30 years. Dr Teo revealed that research and treatment costs on cancer ranked high above all other diseases. As such, cancer has become a great burden to a nation and individuals alike.

Dr Teo pointed out that in the prevention and treatment of cancer, challenges should not be overlooked. Such challenges could be: patients lack treatment references and resources; obstacles posed by the social and cultural factors; misinformation on traditional and alternative treatments; early detection of cancer, and so on. Getting the mainstream reference and professional diagnosis is important in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

“Regular health checks is one way to early detection of cancer. This greatly helps in recovery from cancer. Missing the timing factor means complications that affect the physical conditions of the patients,” said Dr Teo. In explaining the causes of various types of cancer and the respective preventive measures, she reminded the audience that to do the right thing at the right time, so as to detect cancer early, could ensure a better survival rate. She shared that due to the credit of research and development of new cancer drugs, more patients have overcome cancer and lived a new life. She hoped that this information would boost the confidence of cancer patients among the audience to face cancer bravely.

Patients undergoing cancer treatments are under huge physical and mental stress. It is therefore necessary to take care of their psychological needs. Yap Meng Yong, TCM Practitioner, who gained a Master’s Degree from Tianjin University, pointed out that emotional stress plays a role in causing various diseases. She explained that the body is a reflection of the spiritual part of a person. Therefore, physical illness is a sign of emotional sickness. One needs to “have faith” before any healing can take place. She said thus, “Trust the doctor in treating your ills, and trust yourself for healing your own spiritual being.”

She then led the participants in a practical session. Everyone followed her in a “figure 8 drawing” exercise, moving the body from head to toe in a relaxed manner as if drawing the figure of “8”. This was followed by a breathing exercise, where each one had to relax and observe his/her own heart beats and breathing, and to visualize the “qi” (energy) moving within the body.

She explained that the exercise was meant to absorb positive energy into the body. It is simple enough yet it could bring the body and mind into a harmonious state. Drawing the figure 8 using body movements is the most efficient way to garner the energy in the universe, so that it revitalizes the physical strength of the body, and brings about self-healing within the body.

The mental state of any cancer patient is crucial in healing. It is important to effect a change in mentality, and be positive in the perception of life, however it is. This way, negativity would not get through to the spiritual level. Otherwise, emotional control gets out of hand, affecting the immune system, and upsetting the flow of inner energy within, and the outcome naturally is physical illnesses.

Physician Yap said that among the cures for cancer, what patients lack is typically love. She reminded the participants to always to say “I love you” to their cells, and to smile at all their internal organs.

 

 

In a great response, over a thousand participants attended the Cancer Forum. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]   It was full house, and many had to participate through video-conferencing facilities in another hall. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]

In a great response, over a thousand participants attended the Cancer Forum. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
It was full house, and many had to participate through video-conferencing facilities in another hall. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
Dr Ho Gwo Fuang talked about relationship between health and cancer. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]   Dr Teo Soon Hwang from Cancer Research Malaysia shared about the importance of health screening and cancer prevention. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]

Dr Ho Gwo Fuang talked about relationship between health and cancer. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]
 
 
Dr Teo Soon Hwang from Cancer Research Malaysia shared about the importance of health screening and cancer prevention. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
Huang Jian Yao, a medical student, has learnt a lot from the sharing by speakers. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]   
Volunteer Wang Lai Fun, a cancer survivor, urged everyone to take preventive measures by having medical check-ups regularly. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]

Huang Jian Yao, a medical student, has learnt a lot from the sharing by speakers. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
 
Volunteer Wang Lai Fun, a cancer survivor, urged everyone to take preventive measures by having medical check-ups regularly. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
Terminal stage does not equal death. Getting proper treatment and keeping a positive emotion is the way to survival. Seen here is Physician Yap Meng Yong leading the participants in a “figure 8 drawing” exercise to garner positive energy into the body. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]  

Terminal stage does not equal death. Getting proper treatment and keeping a positive emotion is the way to survival. Seen here is Physician Yap Meng Yong leading the participants in a “figure 8 drawing” exercise to garner positive energy into the body. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]