The ‘Pink Ladies Group’ the fundraising group of the Bangkok Breast Cancer Group are organising another pink dinner, dance and fun activity evening on October 6th at the Holiday Inn on Sukumvit Soi 22 in Bangkok. The dynamic group of international women based in Bangkok who raise funds for the Queen Sirikit Breast Cancer Centre (QSCBC) projects, including the slum outreach project, which screens and educates the poorest women for breast and cervical cancer and the ‘Pink Park’ cancer rehabilitation and hospice care home, are organising another big pink event for the October 2018 Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Following last year’s highly successful and over subscribed event, this year the pink themed dinner, dance and evening of fun activities, will be held on October 6th. Gather your friends, save the date and have a great night out. All funds raised will be donated to the work of ‘Pink Park’ to help the most underprivileged patients nationally recover from cancer. For details contact Manjit Wahlia at: email@example.com
What is Pink Park?
There have sadly been many cases of breast cancer at the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer (QSCBC) over the last twenty five years; often large breast tumours that have been neglected due to fear and poverty. On occasion these patients will need a long treatment regimen or may sadly pass away. The terminal patients desperately need a facility where they can be cared for properly, away from the squalor of their home conditions or an acute hospital bed. Likewise, patients who cannot be discharged to a home in the slums, may only require outpatient care and a place to stay during their recovery period and do not need to stay on a surgical ward.
These very poor patients, through no fault of their own, often prevent new patients receiving urgently needed treatment. The latest project under the QSCBC Foundation is therefore, ‘Pink Park Village’, a facility that will provide the specialised care that these convalescing or terminally ill patients need. ‘Pink Park’ will be the final part of the QSCBC project envisioned by Dr Kris and his wife Finola twenty six years ago; offering the right environment for these patients nationally. The QSCBC Foundation has raised the majority of the funds to build ‘Pink Park’ with individual and corporate help and it will open to patients in 2018. The patients will be cared for free, so the fundraising will be ongoing.
Khunying Finola, who works on a pro bono basis for all the projects, like her husband Dr Kris Chatamra, the Honorary Director and Founder of the Queen Sirikit Centre and Foundation, explained: “One of the most salient issues that came directly from our experience of over twenty five years of working in the poorest slum communities, was the lack of a supportive environment for a patient’s recovery or for those with terminal cancer, an appropriate place to pass away with dignity, pain free and not in squalor. We could see a great need for a facility which would cater for these patients in an appropriate environment.
A kind donor heard of our idea and donated 125 rai of land in Minburi and this was the beginning of the building of ‘Pink Park Village’. Pink is the symbolic colour of breast cancer internationally and we wanted to have a relaxed garden full of flowering pink blossom trees, surrounding low rise homes, where patients could stay in a peaceful setting. Pink Park is aiming to be environmentally friendly and has planted many trees and is installing solar panels. Trees can be donated as a gift to ‘Pink Park’, to celebrate birthdays, weddings or to remember family members. We keep a list of donors to display at Pink Park, to honour personal donations.
The centre will be free of charge, so donations will be ongoing and always welcome however small. The medical focus will not be intensive; the majority of the patients, will recover from their treatment and do not need high-tech care. Some of the patients at the QSCBC have also lived under bridges and on the sidewalks, just so that they can attend outpatient clinics for radiotherapy or chemotherapy; ‘Pink Park’ will be a place for these individuals to rest and stay. The aim will be to help them recuperate, physically and emotionally, as well as offering them vocational skills and activities to help their transition back to a full life.
The patients who need a place to ‘end their days’, will require pain control, as well as emotional and spiritual support. We are passionate that these patients need to be looked after with dignity, so that they do not suffer. A nun, who I worked with in the Klong Toey slums, Sister Joan Evans, once told me that before our team helped her, all she could offer a woman dying of breast cancer on the floor of her slum home, was a bottle of rum to ease her horrendous pain.
The team, who will not all be based at ‘Pink Park’, will include doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, pharmacists, nutritionists and volunteers. The patients will be housed in different ‘homes’ in the grounds, to address their needs.” “‘Pink Park’ has received substantial support from many sectors, including ‘Sansiri’ the property developers who offered their team on a pro bono basis, as did Khun ‘Pui ‘, Wannaporn Phornprapha, ‘PPlan Landscape’, who did the landscaping design. We have tried to create another sanctuary, but this time in a garden setting, so that patients can feel at home and get the moral support needed to beat the disease.’
‘Pink Park Village’ was started on March 2016, but the final cancer rehabilitation centre still needs donations. We still need additional financial support. All donations and revenue from hosted activities go directly to equipment. In addition to gifting of trees, the QSCBC Foundation also sell souvenirs and designer T-shirts from its collection called ’Miss Pink Park’ to help raise funds. The T-shirt was designed by Ajarn Somnuek Klangnok, a famous artist well known for his illustrations. Another channel for donations is bank account transfers and our QSCBC Foundation will issue a receipt for tax deductible contributions. (Please see end of article for details.)
What other projects happen at the QSCBC?
“Dr Kris is, however, the Honorary Director and Founder of the QSCBC and Chairman of the Board of the QSCBC Foundation; he is the key figure in all the work that has been done to date. He works everyday as a full-time surgeon at the QSCBC, operating on the most difficult cases, teaching and organising clinical research projects, dedicating his time from early morning to evening, on an honorary basis.
The QSCBC and the QSCBC Foundation have nurtured a special and hard working team and they also deserve a lot of credit. Like Dr Kris, I volunteer my time, I have helped in many aspects of the projects, from fundraising to education work, focusing on the risks of breast and cervical cancer for a national photographic campaign, which I have organised for over ten years, with the key message: ‘early detection may save your life’. Breast and cervical cancer are the biggest cancer killers of Thai women and it should not be forgotten a small percentage of men suffer from breast cancer too and transexuals. Many celebrities have been kind enough to donate their time for this cause every year.
I also help to co-ordinate international research trials for the QSCBC. I started a breast and cervical screening project in the slum communities, over twenty years ago, serving the most underprivileged women. We try to inculcate a positive message encouraging the early diagnosis of breast and cervical cancer and try and take away the fear of so many of the women. We make the whole breast and cervical screening experience as positive as possible. We also work closely with the community leaders, to build up trust and confidence in our project, working alongside volunteer social workers, to ensure that the women we are screening are genuinely in need. The project relies on donations and so we need to ensure funds are used wisely.
The women bring their children and grandchildren and we also provide food and transport for the day, alleviating any anxieties about childcare or providing meals, because so many of the women are on a minimal daily wage. The children and women have fun activities organised, in addition to the breast and cervical cancer checks and when the women return home, they become our best advocates for breast cancer screening in their communities. These women would normally not have an opportunity to access screening and are often terrified of having a diagnosis, because they have seen neighbours suffer terribly due to a late diagnosis and a lack of care. We try to teach them that the faster a disease is detected, the greater the chance of recovery.
The Bangkok Breast Cancer Support Group and the Pink Ladies have been great supporters of our work.” “Many women are scared and too afraid to undergo treatment, thinking that the disease is incurable. We try to teach them that the faster a disease is detected, the greater the chance of recovery. We want to encourage them to fight the disease and be proactive.” The QSCBC has many clinical research projects, in addition to the full patient workload. Dr Kris leads the research teams and has, for example, set up an international research trial for ‘intraoperative radiotherapy’, which offers radiation therapy to patients directly in the operating theatre, so that patients can avoid several weeks of 5 minute treatment sessions.
This kind of approach could make the lives of rural patients, so much easier and treatment more bearable. Other trials looking to find the most specific and valuable treatments for patients are also underway, helped by the use of a ‘cancer cell bank’, where patients cells can be stored and matched for future treatments. Dr Kris has introduced the most advanced treatment programmes available and is adamant that all patients should be offered these approaches.
Pam aged 50 is one such example, it is a tumour profiling test that determines the benefit of using chemotherapy in addition to hormone therapy for some oestrogen receptor-positive and HER2 negative breast cancers. The QSCBC has always been forward thinking and all that has been achieved has been done so as a multi-disciplinary team of staff, volunteers and such generous donors. We are grateful to so many. For those who want to join a voluntary programme or make a donation, please visit our website: www.qscbcfoundation.org or contact Khun Supanaree Sumonmart, manager of the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer Foundation at: 094-790-4561 or firstname.lastname@example.org