Providing a human touch to cancer care

Publication: The Malysian Insider
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Makna’s home visit team consists of two plucky and dedicated women, Suhaila Nik (left) and Noraini Khalid (right), who travel throught the country every month. They are seen here with patients in Kuala Terengganu. – The Malaysian Insider filepic, September 13, 2015
Cancer is a disease that often robs its victim of more than just health. The emotional and physiological toll can sometimes be more crippling than the physical trauma caused by cancer.
In trying to soothe the pain suffered by patients, two women who make up the Home Visit Department of the National Cancer Council of Malaysia (Makna) play an important role in offering a human touch in the entire process of care and rehabilitation.

Suhaila Nik and Noraini Abdul Khalid’s jobs take them to rural areas all over Malaysia for 10-15 days a month to visit, interview and check up on patients who are recipients of Makna’s financial support.
The work can be both physically and mentally draining, as when the duo aren’t travelling, they are preparing reports, dealing with financers and office administration.

“We are looking for people to join the unit, and we get many people coming in for interviews,” said Noraini.

“The thing is, during interviews, they perform well, but after one or two days with us, and realising the emotional and physical strain they would have to go through, seeing cancer up close, it frightens them,” she told The Malaysian Insider recently during a home visit to patients in the state of Terengganu.

During this trip, patients ranged in age from 10 to 60 years old. The visits yielded many surprises, some heartbreaking, as the duo discovered that some patients had died from their illness.
Apart from providing a human touch and face to Makna, the home visits also play a very practical role in providing Makna with information and details such as financial welfare, health and care of patients.
The visits also help to weed out those who were abusing the provision of state assistance, from genuine cases of needy patients – the ladies have “caught” patients who had successful businesses of their own.
In spite of the occasional physical and mental fatigue, the women find fulfillment in the roles they play, especially when they find themselves doubling up as family and friends to cancer patients who have been abandoned by those closest to them.

“You have to be strong when you visit these patients. It’s not just about their illness and care, but you get to know about how people treat the unfortunate.
“The first time I did it, it hurt. But I learned,” said Suhaila.
Noraini summed up their roles as being both state administrators, and providers of comfort to the patients.
“This is not a job for weak people,” she said. – The Malaysian Insider, September 13, 2015.

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