Cancer (Supportive Care and Other Services)

Singapore has numerous support and care groups for cancer patients.

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​Palliative Care


 
What is the meaning of palliative care? It is care that improves the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing life-limiting illnesses, e.g. advanced cancers or end-stage chronic illnesses. It includes the treatment of pain and other symptoms, and addresses (where possible) the psychological, social, financial and spiritual concerns of patients and families. Treatment options are also explored, so that patients can come to decisions that are in line with their own philosophy and outlook on life.

Palliative care is delivered through a multidisciplinary team approach involving the participation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers/counsellors. The palliative care team works closely with the primary physicians, family members and other palliative care services to help patients achieve their goals of care. This may sometimes involve advice on discharge planning.

Quality of life is deeply personal for each person. Palliative care endeavours to help each patient achieve the best quality of life that is possible in his or her remaining time.


Dietetics and Nutritional Support 
Eating well is one way to fight cancer. Although there is no special diet for cancer patients, eating the right kinds of food before, during and after treatment can help a patient feel better, stay stronger and be better able to withstand the rigours of cancer treatment. Dietitians at each hospital can give specific advice to suit each patient’s needs. You can request for a referral to a dietitian from the doctor, should you require one.


Psychosocial Services 

The Department of Psychosocial Oncology attends to patients and their families who have difficulties coping with their social, psychological and care problems arising from ill health and traumatic injuries. The types of problems seen by the medical social workers are grouped into the following categories:
Psychological
Family/couple/marital relationships
Emotional/behavioural difficulties
Anxiety over illness/treatment
Loss/grief and bereavement issues
Rehabilitation and care of patients
Discharge and continuing care of patients
Home care
Special education/training/rehabilitation
Work adjustments
Financial assistance
Assistance with payment of hospital treatment charges
Subsidised treatment scheme assessment 
Short-term financial support to patients
Assistance with purchases of equipment, such as prosthesis/appliances, and treatment aids


Support Groups 

You do not need to be a patient of a particular hospital or institution to join any of these support groups.

When first diagnosed with cancer, most patients experience fear, anger, anguish and helplessness. It is important for them to realise that they are not alone, and cancer support groups play a vital role in helping people cope.

SingHealth’s hospitals and national centres conduct cancer support groups’ activities throughout the year. Most of these support groups are facilitated and run by volunteers who are cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.

National Cancer Centre Singapore Support Programmes

The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) offers a comprehensive range of Patient Education and Support Programmes, which provide support at different phases of patients’ cancer — particularly during the treatment and post-treatment phases.
Treatment Phase
Support Group Programme
Developmental and therapeutic group work programmes are designed to:
1. Build awareness of significant events and their impact on coping
2. Create awareness and recognition of one’s choices in coping
3. Build internal resources in coping
4. Promote congruency within oneself
EnReach Retreat
This three-day residential programme aims to help patients and their caregivers cope with the different aspects of cancer by increasing their knowledge, positive attitudes and skills. The retreat, conducted in both English and Mandarin, is usually held twice a year in March and September during the school holidays.
Post-Treatment Phase
STEER (Support through Empowerment, Enrichment and Resourcefulness) Programme
The STEER Programme is a community-based psychosocial, education programme that also serves as the extension of the EnReach Retreat where former participants from the retreats can continue to meet up for continuing knowledge and life skills acquisition, and for emotional and social support, through organised activities.

Self-help Groups

These are social groups usually facilitated and run by cancer survivors themselves. Groups focus mainly on bonding amongst cancer survivors. Each group meets once a month. The self-help groups include: 
Gynae-Oncology Self-Help Group
Breast Cancer Self-Help Group 
Nasopharyngeal Cancer Self-Help Group
The Revival Connection (for patients with cancer recurrence)
The Mandarin Support Group
Malay Support Group


Family Support Programmes 

Caregivers’ Support Programme 
Nearly all support programmes provide opportunities for caregivers to share, learn and provide mutual support.


Children’s Therapies Programme 
There are young parents among cancer patients. These families may have young children who are mystified, frightened and saddened by the patient’s medical condition, but are unable to express this. The Children’s Therapies Programme, which includes art therapy, helps children express themselves when facing a family trauma.

Grief in Recovery Support Group

This programme targets people grieving the loss of someone close through cancer. It seeks to offer comfort and encouragement during this difficult time, as well as provide therapies for individuals going through complicated grief reactions.

For more information on NCCS’s Patient Education and Support Programmes, contact Programme Executive at: 65 6436 8117 or email nssghh@nccs.com.sg. 

KK Women’s Cancer Support Group

The support group was started in 1991 by nurses and allied health professionals for KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) gynaecological cancer patients. The support group provides emotional and psychological support through counselling and befriending services.

The nurses and allied health professionals empower members by increasing their awareness about basic disease and symptom management, for example, management of lymphaedema and nutrition during cancer treatment. Social activities are also organised to create a platform for patients and their families to interact.

For enquiries, call the Gynaecological Cancer Centre at 65 6394 2138 or 65 6394 2160. 

Cancer Helpline

This is an anonymous and confidential service that provides up-to-date information and emotional and psychological support through telephone, email or face-to-face counselling. This service is provided free nationwide, and is manned by cancer-trained nurse counsellors who are able to speak with callers in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.

Tel: 65 6225 5655
Email: cancerhelpline@nccs.com.sg

KK Hospital Alpine Blossoms Breast Cancer Support Group


 
The support group was launched in October 2008 as a breast cancer support group led by healthcare professionals, and has a structured programme to take patients through all phases of the journey from diagnosis to treatment, remission, and recovery from breast cancer.

The support group is open to breast cancer patients from any hospital. Currently, the group has about 180 members, of which approximately 10 percent are from other hospitals. 

Support group meetings are held once every two months. Family members and friends are also encouraged to join the group’s activities.

The group also has a Blossom Buddies programme, under which trained volunteers share their experiences with newly-diagnosed patients. The programme also helps raise awareness about breast cancer and the need for early detection to improve survival rates.

Blossom Buddies are carefully matched so that their background profiles are similar in order to render each other one-to-one support. The first batch of Buddies completed their programme on 17 December 2010. The support group also has a quarterly newsletter.

For enquiries on membership, call: Doris at 65 6394 5816 or Breast Care Nurse at 65 8121 7943.


heART 

 

This is an art-making support group open to all cancer patients seen at KKH. It was started in October 2009, facilitated by a psychiatrist with a passion for arts, as a support service under the Department of Psychological Medicine.

The art sessions are held twice a month in the hospital. All the art materials are provided at no cost to the patients. Patients do not need to have any arts background to join the group. The sessions give patients an opportunity to seek mutual support and allow them to de-stress. heART also holds regular exhibitions to showcase members' creations.

Visit the group's website at www.kkh.com.sg/heART to view some of the artworks and some of the group's past activities.

Tel: 65 6394 2205 

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Cancer (Supportive Care and Other Services)

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