"When I first found out that I had breast cancer, I had to accept it and overcome it even though I was worried and scared. Fortunately, I usually do routine check-ups, so I managed to get good treatment with early diagnosis!"
Ho Fui Fah, 66, had previously suffered from colon cancer and recovered after treatment. She was very health conscious and took good care of her health. In February of this year, she had a mammogram, and the result showed an abnormality in one breast. After getting further examination at the hospital, a tumour was detected and she was later diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Fortunately, the cancer was detected early, and Ho Fui Fah underwent breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy, and her condition was under control. Now, she has let go of a huge mental burden and resumed a healthy life.
At the Breast Cancer Awareness Month Carnival, Ho Fui Fah talked about her experience of fighting cancer and encouraged everyone to prevent it early by conducting self-examinations and receiving regular breast check-ups.
The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In order to raise public awareness of breast cancer and breast cancer screening, Yishun Health Group partnered with Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre to hold the Breast Cancer Awareness Month Carnival on the morning of 1 October 2023. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Law Rahayu Mahzam, also attended the event to show her support.
As a partner of the event, the youth centre provided the venue free of charge, and members and volunteers of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) Singapore undertook tasks such as sound control, crowd control, and reception, kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Singapore.
Early detection allows for early treatment
In Singapore, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. According to the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2021, there were nearly 13,000 new cases in the past five years, and three out of every ten women who developed cancer are diagnosed with breast cancer. However, many women ignore the importance of breast screening due to shyness, fear of pain, or inconvenience.
To increase public awareness of breast cancer and encourage women to do self-examination and pay attention to the changes in their breasts, this event arranged for bilingual talks by various specialists, radiology staff, and nutritionists. For the first time, medical students were invited to participate and share effective preventive methods for preventing, screening, and treating breast cancer.
200 audience attended the bilingual talks. The experts shared health knowledge through videos and power points, explained the process of breast ultrasound and mammogram, and dispelled some myths about breast cancer. They also encouraged people to adopt healthy lifestyles, including healthy eating, regular exercise, not smoking, not drinking alcohol excessively, and receiving regular cancer screenings, which can all help prevent breast cancer.
Many women discovered hidden abnormalities through breast cancer screening and then undergo further examinations. Once diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, treatment usually yields good results. On the contrary, many end-stage breast cancer patients often realize the importance of breast screening only after accidentally detecting a breast lump. Some missed the golden window for treatment, and it became too late.
During her sharing, Ho Fui Fah revealed that her elder sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 80. She said, "In fact, she had symptoms five years ago, but she kept postponing the examination out of fear and eventually had to undergo a double mastectomy."
Ho Fui Fah uses this as a warning to everyone that "examinations are not scary, but death is scarier!"
One can help by reminding the people around to do regular health screening
The carnival's fringe activities were also diverse, with booths offering yoga, calligraphy, mindfulness therapy, fun games, and art performances, attracting hundreds of people to come forth to participate. There was also a Mammobus outside the venue, which was fully booked a month in advance due to the overwhelming response.
Alvin Tan, a member of the public whose work often involves caring for the elderly, attended the talk with some friends and gained a lot from it. He said, "The chances of elderly people over 70 years old getting breast cancer are quite high. Today, I learned a lot of medical knowledge, and in the future, I will share it with the elderly I work with and remind them to undergo regular breast examinations."
Alinh Lim, who has a family history of cancer and whose sister has had breast cancer, learned about the event from the newspaper and invited her family and friends to attend the carnival. Alinh Lim said, "Cancer is a very common disease. Through today's event, I also reminded myself to check myself regularly. Early detection and treatment will reduce the pain and suffering."
Dr Clement Chia, the Head of Breast Surgery Service and Consultant at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, is the person in charge of this event. He has had multiple exchanges with Tzu Chi Medical Association (TIMA) in the past. This was the first time that Yishun Health Group has collaborated with Tzu Chi to organise the Breast Cancer Awareness Month event. Dr Clement Chia was grateful that the event went smoothly and successfully.
"Breast cancer is a national issue concerning the health of people. The more people are aware of it and become involved, the better it is. Turning it into a carnival is a major breakthrough for this year's event," Dr Clement Chia said happily.
He added, "Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre provides a spacious and beautiful environment infused with humanistic culture. Besides the seminars, there are interactive games, activities, and various booths set up to create a carnivalesque ambience that both adults and children can participate. It's fantastic!"
The month of October, known as Pink October, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Through the power of love and sharing, let us fill our surroundings with a pink atmosphere to emphasise the importance of breast cancer prevention and treatment. Let's care for our health and encourage those around us to undergo regular check-ups. Together, we can support each other and create a healthier and better life.