BCSG JB moves into new centre

Façade of BCSG JB's new centre on Jalan Ru, Melodies Garden
For seven years Honey Nor Azizah Idris, 43, was glad that her annual health screening results were clear but in the eighth year it was discovered that she had stage III breast cancer.   The news came as a tremendous shock and for more than a month, she was in denial and refused to do anything about it. 

After much persuasion, she went for consultation at Hospital Sultan Ismail and there, she met with a volunteer from the Breast Cancer Support Group (BCSG) Johor Baru who advised her to meet the members, many of whom are breast cancer survivors.

Honey Nor Azizah Idris
She plucked up her courage to call the BCSG Careline and through the telephone she received the much needed encouragement and advice to start her own fight against the dreaded disease.  In just two weeks, Honey Nor made the decision to go for her mastectomy and this was followed by a series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.  With the support from her husband, two children and friends at BSCG, she embarked on the long road to recovery.  After being declared cancer-free, she is able to return to her job as a sales promoter with a hypermarket. 
“I met BCSG members who looked so happy and positive even in their illness and I was deeply encouraged by their attitude and strong support,” said Honey Nor as she recalled her first visit to the BCSG centre, which was then located at Jalan Rengas in Melodies Garden.  “I soon adopted their “I Can” attitude and went through my treatment with their practical and moral support,” she added.  Honey Nor, now a survivor, joins the BCSG in regular hospital visits, outings and a range of recreational activities including swimming.

BCSG JB president, Doris Boo, with some of the handicraft
items for sale in the centre's Craft Shop
Doris Boo, President of BCSG JB, herself a survivor for the past 16 years, is the driving force behind the team who plans and organizes activities to create awareness of what BCSG can offer to help patients and survivors achieve a better quality of life.  

Registered as a Non-Governmental Organization in March 2004, BCSG has annual campaigns to raise awareness of breast cancer and reduce the stigma of breast cancer, as well as promote education on the symptoms because early detection may lead to higher survival rates.  Having experienced the pain and suffering, fear and anxieties as patients, BCSG members who are survivors are reaching out effectively to give hope to newly diagnosed patients and encourage them on their journey to wellness.

One wall of the reception area is decorated by photos from
previous BCSG JB events
Since 2006, the BCSG was meeting at their centre at Jalan Rengas in Melodies Garden, a property owned by Gan Sung Chet and his wife, who let them use it virtually free-of-charge.  As the number of members and range of activities expanded, the premises became inadequate for group activities and this compelled BCSG to seek another site for their centre. 

Once they identified a property at nearby Jalan Ru, BCSG worked hard at a host of fund-raising activities including their Gift of Hope Charity Dinner in 2011, to raise funds to buy and renovate the building for their purpose.

Tan Sri Dato' Shahrir Abdul Samad declared the new centre
open on 15 Feb 2014
At 7am sharp on Feb 15, Tan Sri Dato’ Shahrir Abdul Samad, Member of Parliament for JB and patron of BCSG, with his wife Puan Sri Shahrizan, accompanied members and friends of BCSG for a morning walk from their old centre at Jalan Rengas to the new centre at Jalan Ru. 

It was a short but meaningful walk that symbolised their partnership in a journey together for the good of many who are going through the challenges of breast cancer and their battle for survival.  The recently renovated centre was the site for a celebration of the joint effort and generous contribution from the office of Shahrir and big-hearted private enterprises and individuals.

A volunteer demonstrates how a prosthesis is inserted into
a pocket designed within a mastectomy brassiere
“I’m inspired by these brave survivors who are using their experience with the effects of cancer to become more positive about life, their relationships and position in the community,” said Shahrir as he toured the new centre.  “This building is a proud testimony to what BCSG can achieve especially as it is helmed by survivors who are tenacious about sharing their hope with others,” he added. 

BCSG aims to use the new centre to continue with its regular activities in training survivors to guide others about Breast Self Examination (BSE), the proper use of prosthesis in a programme dubbed “Bosom Buddies”, post-surgery physical exercise as well as personal grooming in “Looking Good – Feeling Great.”  A music room is designed for fun activities like karaoke singing and choir training while a Craft Shop is where members are guided to make useful handicrafts for sale.  It has a wide side verandah ideal for outdoor activities and events such as cooking demonstrations and line dancing exercises.

A group of BCSG JB members feeling elated after the
morning walk to their new centre on Feb 15
Among the BCSG volunteers are retired medical professional who are trained to provide emotional and psychological as well as practical advice to help newly diagnosed patients to deal with the challenges in their journey to recovery.  Besides holding road shows to educate the public about BSE, they have group sharing sessions, patient visits in hospitals and their homes and encourage patients through regular “Buddy Phone Calls.” 

Several years ago, Lim Chuei Peng, 47, a nurse, was diagnosed with breast cancer and after she went through the treatment with the caring support of BCSG, she has joined the BCSG medical team in their effort to help others just as she was helped by them.

The BCSG JB centre is located at No. 12, Jalan Ru, Melodies Garden, Johor Baru.  The centre’s Prosthetics and Brassiere Shop is open on Tuesday and Friday from 10am to 1pm.  For appointments, Tel: 607 – 335 7211 and Fax: 607 – 335 3211.  Email: bcsgjb04@hotmail.com

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 20 February 2014

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