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People Of MAKNA – Amylia Mustapha

Ever since we were launched, MAKNA donors have always been a pillar that enables MAKNA to assist those who are less fortunate in dealing with cancer treatments and other related costs. In this edition of our People of MAKNA series, our staff, Amylia, shares her experience processing cancer patients’ applications, which are mostly from the B40 group. This group has shown a significant increase in number of applications since the MCO started.

Amylia 1

Going through a difficult time in life, particularly in facing the challenge of a chronic illness, is not easy for those who are less fortunate. Working in MAKNA since 2013 has given me multiple experiences, lessons and learning opportunities.

The experience I gained while working under Bursary has matured my way of handling patient cases. As generally known, most applications that we received are from applicants in the PLI (Poverty Line Index) category, asnaf groups who are diagnosed with critical illness, plus the loss of strength and ability to look after and provide for themselves and their families. There were also some applications for infants.One of the stories that affected me was when a patient’s application was being processed, the patient passed away and didn’t get to go through the scheduled surgery because of their critical condition. I have also received a case where the patient was diagnosed at Stage 1, but the cancer worsened to Stage 4 because the patient could not afford to go to the hospital for treatment. Especially for patients from rural areas, the treatment and transportation costs become a huge burden for them. Apart from that, there are also patients who continuously need oxygen therapy for the rest of their lives.Graph

The MCE program, especially Home Stay, taught me to be grateful and tolerant. The 3 days 2 nights experience at the home humbled me when I saw their hardship and tried to understand the problems they were facing. Most patients who stay at the home are from rural areas who face difficulties whenever they need to go to the hospital because they live in mountainous areas with minimum utilities and incomplete facilities. MAKNA staff’s visits are always welcomed though they live with much less. There are also cancer patients who are bedridden, weak and could only depend on long-term financial aid for treatment as well as subsistence from others.

I have also made home visits to patients before. As a MAKNA staff, we are required to visit patients to see their conditions for ourselves and understand the issues they face as cancer patients. There are patients who live in old, dilapidated wooden houses where the floors are brittle and worn through. It’s undeniable that the life’s adversities and the chronic illness, which incurs additional treatment and transportation costs, burden their whole family. Emotional support and the help to find the best solutions for their problems need to be offered.

Amylia 2

I am very grateful to be working in MAKNA and helping the less fortunate cancer patients in easing their application process. I won’t forget my time in MAKNA because I’m sure I won’t be able to experience it elsewhere. MAKNA is also very keen in giving emotional support and taking care of its patients and staff’s welfare.

Thank you MAKNA, for giving me the chance to continue serving in this meaningful organization. May Allah SWT bless this whole organization. Aamiin yarabbalalaamiin!

Amylia Mustapha,Executive (Bursary)



Dr Kue Chin Siang was one of the recipients for MAKNA Cancer Research Award 2017. He completed his Master Degree in Biotechnology (Immunology) at Korea University and Doctorate in Pharmacology at University of Malaya. His research interests are discovering anticancer drug and drug delivery for selective targeting in cancer.

One of the main reasons why he wants to be involved in cancer research is because of a personal experience. His mother passed away due to late diagnosis with Stage 4 lung cancer, despite finishing the chemotherapy. Following that incidence, he started to venture into cancer immunology and pharmacology to explore better drug for treatment of cancer.

He is well concerned with the fact that the overall survival rate of cancer patients is relatively low, especially those diagnosed during the late stages. A plausible solution to this issue is by trying to detect the cancer as early as possible. He believes that early detection and treatment can be achieved through biomarkers, specifically the molecule that uniquely expressed on cancer cells. Many biomarkers have been identified for various cancers, and to improve the cancer treatment, he and his team work in designing small moleculesthat specifically target biomarker overexpressed on the cancer cell surface. This molecule can then be linked to theanticancer drug or imaging probe, to specifically deliver to the cancer cells and improve the therapeutic efficacy without harming normal cells.

According to him, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and surface molecule targeted therapy or immunotherapyare uncommon in Malaysia, compared to chemotherapy. More research should be conducted to discover new anticancer drugs and treatment methods to improve the therapeutic outcome. His international collaborators and local team(MSU &UM) are actively studying and improving the delivery and efficacy of the photosensitizing agent to cancer, through the surface marker expressed on cancer cells.

Currently a senior lecturer at Management & Science University (MSU), he encourages students who are passionate in research to make a brave decision in pursuing their dreams. He advised young researchers to be physically and mentally prepared to cope with the stress throughout the journey, but the sweat and tears will be rewarded with excitement which will unveil throughout the research. He wishes to convey his admiration to all fellow researchers out there and hopes that they will be able to keep up the good work that they are doing for the sake of the greater good.