This article first appeared in New Sarawak Tribune.
World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness on cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
Comfort is the utmost priority
With more than 200 types of cancer, a 2012 to 2016 report by the National Cancer Institute showed an increase of diagnosed patients to 115,238 from 103,507 cases recorded between 2007 to 2011.
The Malaysia National Cancer Registry report also notes that the Age Standardised Incidence Rate for cancer stood at 86 cases for every 100,000 male population while it is 102 cases for every 100,000 female population.
The report also states that breast cancer tops the list of 10 types of cancer found among Malaysians from 2012 to 2016, followed by colorectal cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, nasopharyngeal cancer, leukemia, prostate cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer.
With cancer cases increasing at an alarming rate, according to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), it is important to note that more than one-third of cancer cases can be prevented. While another third can be cured with early detection and proper treatment.
In conjunction with World Cancer Day on February 4, Homage Care professional Rohani Ghazali recently shared her experience working with cancer patients.
“It’s definitely not easy dealing with the loss of a patient because as caregivers, we tend to develop a bond with them. But over time, I learned to let go as I had done enough on my side to help the patient gain comfort each and every time I’m by their side,” said the trained and certified care professional.
As a caregiver, she would always try to make her patients happy with positive interactions. “Always smile and help the patient in whatever way possible to lessen their worries.”
Prior to time spent with her patients, Rohani was the primary caregiver of her late mother.
“She suffered from dementia, was a diabetic and a cancer patient until she passed away in 2019. And I missed her so dearly that I chose to become a caregiver.
“I needed to heal my soul and be near the elderly and help those who needed a sincere trained hand to hold them and reduce their worries,” she added.
Having many experiences caring for numerous patients, Rohani advised family caregivers on ways to lessen the turmoil or negative experience.
“Caregivers can relief their loved ones’ worries by assuring that they will be as comfortable as possible while fighting cancer. Tell them it’s okay, and don’t worry.”
As patients diagnosed with cancer can feel easily be nervous and jittery, Rohani said it is important for them to be assured that their loved ones care for their needs. “The key is to gain trust, demonstrate empathy and be understanding. We need to create a safe environment and make sure we do not invade the patient’s personal space.” Rohani added that any environmental threats to the safety of the patients should be removed or remedied immediately.
“These things may seem simple but it is important to constantly remind them and give them the assurance that their comfort is your utmost priority.”
While dealing with cancer care has been a profession of many for decades, 2020 has certainly proved to be a challenge for caregivers. The Covid-19 pandemic became a barrier to optimum cancer care and treatments. Rohani said that the virus has drastically changed the process of caring for patients.
With many reminders to take note of before attending to a patient, Rohani practised consistent sanitising aside from washing her hands constantly and wearing a 3-layer face mask at all times.
“This is done conscientiously before and after touching patients and medical equipment. Alcohol swabs are used to wipe down catheters before and after any procedures like draining, and others.”
Post-Covid-19, treatment and care has become a more elaborate, and hygienic process. What usually takes a short time now takes a bit longer. But Rohani contented, “As a caregiver, I always remind myself and others around me to practice good hygiene steps so that everybody can be safe.”