04 JUNE 2016

Small team, big heart

Contributed by: Dr See Hui Ti

The CanHOPE team makes sure patients in Bandung, Indonesia, do not feel alone.

Risma Yanti is the branch manager of CanHOPE Bandung, Indonesia’s third largest city. Risma works with a small team of two but despite its size the team has managed to create an active patient support group.

“The patients do line dancing, attend lunches and go for regular fun walks,” said Risma. The CanHOPE office in Bandung is able to organise all these because it has tied up with the Bandung Cancer Society. Depending on the event, between five and 10 patients attend each time.

One active member is the mother of a teenager who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a primary bone cancer that mainly affects children and adolescents. This particular patient was just 13 when she was diagnosed.

The girl and her mother went to the CanHOPE office to get more information and Risma recommended that they see Dr Khoo Kei Siong, the Deputy Medical Director of Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) in Singapore.

The girl was treated for over a year and Dr Khoo became close to the family. Unfortunately, the teen relapsed after her treatment. “The girl’s mother continues to be very close to us,” said Risma

Apart from organising activities for patients, Risma and her team also keep busy with marketing activities, public seminars, setting up Continuing Medical Education events, and increasing cancer awareness in Bandung.

Risma has been with Parkway for a decade now. When she first joined, she handled administration – arranging appointments for patients to see doctors in Singapore, providing cost estimates and helping them to work out the logistics of treatment plans. Since 2013, Risma has focused on CanHOPE Bandung.

Singapore’s reputation for excellent medical care helps to bring patients in.

One such person was the wife of a Bandung pulmonologist (a doctor who specialises in lung disorders). She found a lump in her breast and her husband contacted Risma. “He asked me for a good breast cancer doctor and I recommended Dr See Hui Ti.”

Dr See is a medical oncologist at PCC.

“The patient flew to Singapore and the whole thing happened very quickly. The necessary surgery was done just two days after the PET scan confirmed that the lady had breast cancer,” said Risma. That was about four years ago. Today, the woman only needs to go for regular check-ups. The woman’s family has a history of breast cancer – her sister also needed to see a breast cancer specialist. She too went to PCC in Singapore for treatment.

Being able to make a difference to the lives of people in Bandung, Risma said, is what keeps her going.

Written by Jimmy Yap

TAGS cancer support group, cancer treatment abroad, CanHOPE, primary bone cancer