Words Hannah May-Lee Wong
Puan Sri Maniseh Adam
Patron, Pink Ribbon Wellness (L) Foundation
Her story, her vision
When Puan Sri Maniseh Adam first found out she had breast cancer, it was December 2010 and she was 68 years old. “I was on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for a very long time. I took it very casually as my gynaecologist only told me that HRT was protective towards heart disease. What she did not tell me was that it was linked to breast cancer,” she recalls.
“I was very careful,” Puan Sri Maniseh shares. “I did a mammogram and ultrasound every year since I had a hysterectomy done at 50 years old (due to some problems I’ve been having with cysts). I had the hysterectomy to prevent cancer in the uterine region. I took care of my breasts as well. I made sure to exercise regularly and keep a healthy diet.” Year after year, her mammograms and ultrasound results always came out normal.
Some time later, Puan Sri Maniseh moved to a new housing area and found herself a new clinic that was closer to home. It was only there they found that she had breast cancer. She was then referred to Datuk Dr Devanand, a breast surgeon and one of the founders of the Pink Ribbon Wellness (L) Foundation. Through the initial MRI scan, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer of the breast, with three affected lymph nodes. Wasting no time and fuelled with determination to survive this, she scheduled her breast cancer surgery within a week from detection.
During the surgery, her surgeon discovered that her cancer was in fact at Stage 2B – more lymph nodes were affected than initially expected. The surgeon made the decision of removing all her lymph nodes around the area.
It has been six years since then. Puan Sri Maniseh is doing well, as vivacious as ever, and has shared her story of hope and triumph many times through the Pink Ribbon Foundation.
She explains that the reason she joined the Foundation was because she was searching for an emphasis on education. “As a breast cancer survivor, I too was lost. But I didn’t want to be in a group that was just about sharing experiences and crying about it. I was looking for an organization that emphasized on education.”
“At Pink Ribbon, we want to give women the willpower and the drive to survive. We advocate for women diagnosed with breast cancer to get proper evidence-based treatment as soon as possible, rather than going for alternatives.”
Pink Ribbon Wellness (L) Foundation
The Foundation was first registered in 2012 in Labuan as a charitable foundation. (That’s what the ‘L’ stands for.) Its founders are Datuk Dr M Devanand (Chairman) and Ms Yong Lee Lee (Honorary CEO), while Puan Sri Maniseh Adam is the Patron. It focuses on empowering women going through breast cancer by educating them and equipping them with knowledge from healthcare professionals and survivors. The Foundation also advocates for early detection via regular breast screenings and providing comprehensive information of available treatment options.
Before the Foundation was established, every state in Malaysia had its own breast cancer survivor support groups. But they were not communicating with one another. “That made us organize the Life Beyond Breast Cancer Teaching Symposium for Survivors in March 2015 in Kuala Lumpur,” Puan Sri Maniseh shares. “We invited all these support groups from various states and together we formed the Pink Ribbon Alliance.” The Alliance isan initiative of the Pink Ribbon Wellness (L) Foundation to unify NGOs, government and private organizations that deal with breast cancer.
What are the services offered by the Foundation?
“As our emphasis is on education and awareness, we regularly hold talks for the public, usually in hospitals,” Puan Sri explains. “We have sharing sessions by survivors and caregivers and talks by experts such as Datuk Dr Devanand and Dato’ Dr Ibrahim Wahid (one of the council members).”
“We also hold workshops run by some of our volunteers who are survivors and have been trained to talk about certain topics such as genetics, education, the immune system and general tips on how to take care of oneself after diagnosis. Sometimes, we invite cosmetic companies to do makeup sessions… it definitely boosts the patients’ confidence when they look good.”
In the past year, the Foundation held such programmes in different towns across Malaysia, which were Kelantan, Segamat, Kluang, Kuching and Langkawi.
The Foundation also works with selected hospitals and corporations, through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes, so that treatment can be provided to those from the lower income bracket.
The Patient Resource Centre located at Wisma Life Care in Kuala Lumpur is open to anyone affected by breast cancer. A well-stocked library containing all sorts of materials regarding breast cancer is available. There are seminar rooms in which talks and events are occasionally held. Patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer are encouraged to join Coffee Chat with the Expert, held monthly, which aims to help new patients have a better understanding of their condition.
The Foundation will be hosting the Excellence in Breast Cancer Therapy and Support Conference in August 10-12 in Kuala Lumpur. The event is specially catered for cancer patients and survivors, caregivers, oncologists, onco-trainees, onco-nurses and general practitioners. There will be several concurrent sessions on different areas of interest.
The 3-day conference will consist of lectures and presentations held by renowned local and international speakers, covering multiple aspects of breast cancer and survivorship.
The registration fee will cover all conference sessions, conference kit, exhibition, coffee breaks and lunches.
Registration fee (for breast cancer survivors) is RM388. Optional Themed Charity Dinner tickets available at RM250/pax for registered delegates.
Members of the public can support the Themed Charity Dinner priced at RM350, RM500 or RM1,000 per pax.
Registration fees for healthcare professionals are categorised into the following:
B1. Masterclass for Onco Nursing and Breast Care Nurses (10-11 August) – RM300
B2. Masterclass for Onco Trainees and Oncology Practitioners (11 August) – RM150
B4. Breast Cancer Updates for Medical Practitioners (12 August) – RM150
For further enquiries, please contact the secretariat office at 03-2242 3121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get in touch with Pink Ribbon Wellness (L) Foundation
Telephone: +603 2242 3121
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