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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Befrienders Programme - a unique feature of NCIS NPC support group

In December 2010, the NPC One Hope launched the Befrienders Programme. Peter suggested the idea and the EXCO committee and medical advisers initiated and fine tuned the idea.

Basically, a Befriender is a cancer survivor who had survived the same cancer and hope to befriend a newly diagnosed NPC patient. He/She will to be a support and a psychological boost to the patient and his family. The patient will feel a sense of belonging and feel assured that there is someone who understand his fear and struggles

Subsequently, the Befriender's objectives are to raise the visibility profile of the NPC support group by introducing the group mission statement , activities/ programs to a new patient/survivor.  This will ensure  group support and continous care can be given throughout the treatment and recovery period of treatment of NPC.  

The Befriender will be stationed at the Radiotherapy Treatment Center at National University Hospital Radiotherapy and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. 

Befriender services are a volunteer service. As such, the nominated cancer survivors have taken their own half day annual leave to come into the hospital to see newly diagnosed NPC patients out of goodwill basis. Newly diagnosed NPC patients who are interested should let the Radiotherapy Treatment Center nurse aware of the need, so that appropriate appointment can be made in advance. 

Otherwise, the cancer survivors EXCO committee will be happy to stay back after the monthly session of the NPC support group meeting for the same purpose. 

Below is the written summary of a testimony by one of the newly diagnosed NPC patient when the Befrienders was first launched. Peter, Moses and myself was in the meeting room. 

Hi Peter/Dr. Choo,

I told Moses and Dr Choo that it was a miracle for us to meet you and the gang last December.  When my husband was confirmed to have npc, it was a long day running to various departments to get things done and we were exhausted by 5pm and were ready to go home to tell our children of the outcome.  Having to attend a support group meeting was wearisome and we thought it was useless.  God intervened.  You called us just when we were almost done.  We felt obliged and therefore found our way to the little room behind the carpark.  I am very thankful for all the sacrifices you guys made for people like us and I didn't realize that this 'befriender' group is a new project.  We have benefited a great deal from it and when I met Sylvia the first time, I wished I had met her earlier to learn more about how to handle the therapy.  Good job. 

YY Kwong (caregiver) – wife of RY, 1 year NPC survivor (written in December 2011)

Few months ago, Peter, Yvonne and myself visited another patient who attended the same Befriender's meeting session with RY. He had underwent radiotherapy/chemotherapy but relapsed a few months later and had to undergo surgery. 

Peter just received the Patient Exemplary Award on that day (30 September 2011) at TTSH. During refreshment time,  we were escorted into the VIP room (photos below). By 6p.m, Peter asked for permission to bag some of the leftover food (there were all good food) and said we ought to take them to visit this patient on the ward. 

When he saw us from his ward bed, he immediately lighted up and was very pleased he had visitors.  He just underwent a nasopharygectomy operation that lasted more than 6 hours and his nose was still in bandage and there were some blood on his dressing. Yet, he chatted as if the surgery was nothing. Peter then handed the food to him and said "This is for your family" - knowing that the patient cannot eat after the surgery. This patient has a young family and recently has some financial difficulties due to his cancer and lost of income. Peter knew his social background well enough to look into this fine details. 

Indeed, his family turned up later and the kids were excited about the food.

As I left the ward later, I felt happy that the Befrienders Programme has worked out well. I felt honoured to know Peter and Yvonne and many of the NPC cancer survivors especially those who are in the EXCO committee (Yip, Slyvia, Moses, Dave, Affendi, Richard, Carol) to have volunteer their time and energy to walk the journey together as a group.

Dr. Choo Bok Ai
Medical Adviser

Peter collecting the award from Prof Chee, CEO of NHG

Group photos with other winners for the award ceremony

In the VIP room

Photos with Prof Nellie Yeo, NHG Chief Quality Officer

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