A place to call home

KUCHING: Pink Ribbon Support Group Sarawak’s (PRSGS) dream of having its own dedicated facility will become a reality next month.

Officiating at the opening of its new centre in Bandar Baru Samariang near here will be the Head of State’s wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib on Oct 26.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah and Assistant Minister Rosey Yunus are also expected to attend.

“Now, PRSGS members and breast cancer survivors have a place of hope and resilience,” PRSGS president Suriani Rapaiee said, echoing the group’s motto, “Seeding Hope and Resilience”.

“We are in the process of equipping the new centre with a physiotherapy room, a counselling room and an office,” she added during a courtesy call on Rosey yesterday.

She appealed to the state government for funding to procure breast prostheses and mastectomy bras for breast cancer survivors in Sarawak every two years.

“We would also like to appeal for an annual grant of approximately RM15,000 to RM20,000 to pay for expenses such as activities, transportation during outreach programmes, utility bills, centre maintenance, materials for breast prostheses and mastectomy bras, and so on,” Suriani said.

She also requested assistance in generating sufficient and continuous funds for the centre.

Rosey, who is also Bekenu assemblywoman, expressed her hope that the group would eventually open another branch in Miri.

“They deliver a great message that these breast cancer survivors can take control of their lives and they should not give up. There is a shoulder to lean on and ears to listen,” she said.

Rosey (fifth right) receiving the invitation to the ceremony from Suriani (fourth right).

PRSGS began seven years ago here, and it has since spread its wings to Sibu.

It now has 304 members — 144 breast cancer survivors and 160 professionals.

Prior to the new centre, PRSGS had been home-based before moving to Anjung Kasih, Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), which Suriani said would still be used in addition to the new location.

During the courtesy call, Suriani also elaborated on the rationale behind the group’s establishment as well as its key objectives.

“One of the reasons we started was due to the yearly increase of breast cancer,” she said, citing statistics from the SGH’s Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology whereby there were 118 recorded cases in 1998 rising to 370 cases last year.

The second reason was to provide a platform where patients and survivors could seek support during or after their battle with breast cancer.

“Participation in support groups can result in positive effects on psychological wellbeing.

“Breast cancer survivors can share their concerns, motivate each other and instill hope, reduce feelings of isolation, and cope with emotional distress together,” emphasised Suriani.

She added that survivors could support each other best as they had personally been through a similar experience.

Besides this, PRSGS also provides pre- and post-operation aid and breast cancer awareness, especially on early detection and treatment.

Touching on the future direction of the group, Suriani voiced her hopes to develop the new centre in providing services to breast cancer survivors in a professional setting while being a potential platform for tertiary institution students to conduct research on breast cancer.

“We also hope to make PRSGS a breast cancer resource centre to patients, survivors, and the community as a whole.”