Hope in Johor Bahru

Thanks to CanHOPE JB, cancer survivors in West Malaysia have a community to rally around.

With close to four million people living in the state of Johor, it is not surprising that one of largest and busiest of the CanHOPE centres is the one in Johor Bahru (JB), the state capital.

About 30 people meet every three weeks and they take part in activities organised by the staff of CanHOPE, such as laughter yoga, dancing, talks and outings. The support group is led by Nursing Manager, Sister Wang Chee Yang, as well as two nurses.

Said Desmond Wong, Director of the Parkway office in JB: “We invite new and old patients to join and we also ask them to invite their friends to share with us their good and bad moments. We can give them encouragement or they give encouragement to each other. Our role is to encourage and to educate. It’s a place for them to ask questions. Our counsellors are ever ready to lend a hand.”

One of the unique things about the CanHOPE office in JB is that Sister Wang, besides being a former nurse, is also a cancer survivor. This gives her a unique perspective.

Mr Wong said: “All the nurses are well-trained to serve. When the patients need treatment, they will ask the nurses. Sometimes, they will ask which of the doctors they should go to for a free second opinion.”

Apart from hosting the CanHOPE support group, the office, known as the Patient Assistance Centre, runs a one-stop call centre, provides free shuttle services, helps patients book appointments as well as ambulance trips. The Centre even helps with logistics like booking hotels.

The Parkway office in JB sends about six new patients a month to Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) in Singapore. The majority of the new patients are from Johor, but they do get patients from Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and even as far north as Penang.

 According to Mr Wong, the main thing that draws the people to Singapore is the world class expertise that PCC doctors have. “When it comes to cancer, you must get it right the first time,” he said. “With PCC’s holistic approach, that helps a lot. Cancer is a disease that you need to treat with a multi-disciplinary team, not just oncologists, but also surgeons and radiologists. Different patients need different treatment options. That’s where PCC has the edge.”

He is no stranger to Singapore, having been educated at the National University of Singapore. A former accountant, he decided to go into the healthcare industry because he wanted to work some place that would give him a purpose in life.

According to Mr Wong, the most fulfilling thing about his job is being able to help people. “When they come to you, they are filled with hope. We are in the position to connect them with the right doctors and help them recover.”


By Jimmy Yap

TAGS cancer support group, cancer survivor events, cancer survivorship, cancer treatment abroad, CanHOPE