Parkway Cancer Centre Cancer Wellness Symposium 2023

At PCC Cancer Wellness Symposium 2023 – Living to the Fullest with Cancer – a panel of specialists shared about cancer survivorship and therapies, insights to wellness, and actionable tips on how to triumph over cancer to achieve strength, hope, and vitality in life.

In September, some 300 cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and members of the public gathered to connect and better understand the different aspects of cancer care, including screenings, treatments, sleep, nutrition, and mental health.

Dr See Hui Ti, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology at Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) gave a warm welcome address on cancer survivorship and what entails for patients after treatment, including continued cancer screenings that are pivotal for survivors.

Blood cancer treatments and screenings

Dr Colin Phipps Diong, Senior Consultant, Haematology at PCC shared the latest updates in leukaemias and lymphomas. He presented on the different types of treatment for blood cancers, including targeted treatment, chemotherapy and immunotherapy before discussing the viability of genetic tests for Clonal Hematopoiesis of Indeterminate Potential (CHIP) to test for leukaemia.

Following up on genetic testing for CHIP, Dr Tan Min Han, founding CEO and Medical Director of Lucence, discussed how multicancer early detection (MCED) blood testing can achieve earlier cancer detection before symptoms. Such blood tests are aimed to improve screening with low false positives and the property of detecting many types of cancers in a blood draw.

During the first panel discussion, CHIP and MCED blood testing continued to be discussed as the audience was concerned about the viability of such tests. Many were curious about the specificities of MCED blood testing, including the range of cancers it can detect in a single blood draw and whether it can detect very small tumours.

Sleep, nutrition, and mental health

Early detection is important, but so is taking care of one’s physical health. Dr Wong Sheau Hwa, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Aviation Medicine Physician, addressed one aspect of this by presenting on sleep, which is made up of three factors: quantity, quality, and timing. He explained that poor sleep can lead to chronic inflammation in the body and also impair the immune system.

Another aspect of taking care of one’s physical health was covered by Gerard Wong, Senior Dietitian at PCC, who shared on plant-based diets and the associated health benefits. A plant-based diet is viable even for individuals with sarcopenia–a condition whereby we experience muscle loss as we age–as long as they get sufficient protein.

Lastly, Tan Hui Ping, Principal Counsellor at PCC discussed the importance of taking care of one’s mental health and how it is an ongoing process even after treatment is completed. Hui Ping explained that the emotions that patients feel during treatment, such as anxiety, grief, loneliness, anger, and stress, can also recur even after treatment is completed due to a different set of challenges. She also shared tips on how patients could take care of their mental health.

The second panel discussion was focused on the topic of sleep, as the audience was concerned about insomnia and how to address it. Dr Wong aptly explained that for insomnia, the focus should be on treating the root cause, rather than the symptoms. To do so, one has to first identify the root cause, whether it is physical, mental, or genetically predisposed.

Dr See ended off with a very insightful point; she shared that for a cancer patient or survivor, the most important thing is to have a community to share their experiences with.

Having a community can make a significant difference to one’s cancer journey, as one would be able to receive both physical and emotional support, which would improve the patient’s overall quality of life and wellbeing.

Key takeaways from the event

After the event, we took the liberty to speak with a few social media influencers to understand what their key takeaways from this symposium was, in addition to the goodie bag that was given to all attendees.

“As someone who lost my grandfather to cancer, this event was very eye-opening, especially during the discussion on why healthy people get cancer,” Shannon Taylor, @shannontaylortw, said. “My grandfather was a very healthy man; he was someone who could swim 20 laps everyday despite his age.

Dr See really helped put things in perspective. Everyone has a different idea of what’s considered healthy, and that has helped me to come to terms with my grandfather’s unfortunate condition.”

Jaime Teo, @jmeteo, also found the event to be very insightful, as what Dr See said really aligned with her beliefs regarding fitness. “When she mentioned how fitness was important and emphasised on strength workouts, I was ecstatic. I felt validated as that is the type of content that I’ve been pushing out to my followers.”

Lastly, Elizabeth Boon, @elizabethboon, felt that the event was very useful and informative, despite not being a cancer patient, survivor, or caregiver herself. “What I’ve learnt today is applicable to my life in general, seeing as the speakers shared topics beyond cancer, such as sleep, nutrition, and mental health,” Elizabeth explained. “These tips could work beyond cancer prevention, as they are useful in improving our overall health and well-being.”

POSTED IN Cancer Prevention, Cancer Treatments, Life after Cancer, Nutrition, Psychological Health
TAGS blood cancer, blood disorders, cancer screening, cancer survivorship, healthy lifestyle