cancer, survivor, rehab, rehabilitation

​New Rehab Centre to Help Cancer Surviviors

Source: (The Straits Times, 21 January 2015) © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.​Even after cancer treatment succeeds, many patients find they need help getting back on their feet.

This is where the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) hopes to step in, with its new rehabilitation centre opening in September.

Announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday, the centre will occupy about 7,000 sq ft of space in Jurong's Jem mall.

"We all belong to this family. I'm a cancer survivor too," said PM Lee, who was speaking at the society's 50th anniversary celebrations at Star Vista mall in Buona Vista. "We're all here, we live on, we fight on together."

Mr Lee was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1992 and underwent chemotherapy. His cancer is in remission.

Related: Caring for People With Cancer

The new centre will be located opposite the upcoming Ng Teng Fong General and Jurong Community hospitals.

It will help to rehabilitate cancer survivors physically and emotionally, running services such as counselling, support groups and return-to-work programmes.

The latter would have been a great help to Madam Keller Kong, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and retrenched.

The 50-year-old eventually found another post as an accounts executive, but she said other patients might not be so lucky.

"If you go for an interview, you need to highlight that you are a cancer survivor. Then, they might reconsider," she said.

In Singapore, 33 people are diagnosed with cancer every day. A survey of about 200 cancer patients – carried out by the SCS and National University Hospital – found that nine in 10 reported some kind of decline in their physical abilities. Nearly half said they experienced pain and weakness, while others also felt persistent fatigue and depression.

Related: Nutrition During Cancer Therapy

However, there is currently no dedicated service to rehabilitate such people, said Dr Ng Yee Sien, who is on the task force set up by the SCS to study such needs here.

While outpatient rehabilitation centres exist, they do not specialise in cancer care, he said.

"They have very generic programmes, focusing on things such as stroke or hip fractures," added Dr Ng, who is head of the Singapore General Hospital's rehabilitation medicine department.

A fee will be levied to make sure people stay committed to the new centre's programmes, which last at least eight weeks.

However, needy patients will not be left out. Chief operating officer David Fong said the SCS will provide financial assistance to those in need.

"In no way will we turn away anyone just because they can't afford to pay," he said.

SCS Rehabilitation Centre

JEM Office Tower 52 Jurong Gateway Road #08-04 S(608550).​​
Telephone: 6661 0590 (Mon to Fri 9am to 530pm, Sat 9am to 1pm, closed on Sundays and public holidays)​ ​

Read these next: