Cancer survivors to catwalk in fundraiser for poorer, rural patients

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
The Pink Brunch will take place at Mandarin Oriental hotel on October 2.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — The cost of treating cancer in Malaysia averages about RM350,000, depending on the stage or complications. That’s expensive.

Fortunately, middle-income Malaysians still have access to treatment at highly specialised public hospitals which are largely free or heavily subsidised, thanks to taxpayers’ contributions which are channelled to the healthcare system.

It’s a success story that has made Malaysia among the world’s best in terms of healthcare affordability.

But for some of the poorest people in the country, cancer treatments remain almost out of reach because of a geographical divide entrenched by the focus of resources towards major hospitals located in urban centres.

“Cancer treatment is free in public hospitals but the problem is they are usually in KL or cities, which makes it hard for the poor in the rural areas,” Dr M. Murallitharan, medical director at the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM), told Malay Mail today.

“They usually don’t have the money to travel to these hospitals.”

It’s a problem that NCSM aims to highlight through a fundraising event on October 2, to be held in conjunction with the World Cancer Congress 2018.

The Pink Brunch, which will take place at Mandarin Oriental hotel, will have cancer survivors and former top fashion models on the catwalk to showcase designs from renowned local designers.

The price of a table is RM10,000, or RM1,000 per ticket, and all proceeds will go towards a fund that will be disbursed to cover travel costs for identified poor cancer patients from rural households seeking treatment in government hospitals.

“This ‘help’ will be in the form of subsidising the cost of food and travel expenses,” Dr Murallitharan said.

“Some of them walk long distances to bus stops, sleep on the floor of the hospital because they can’t afford transport to and from their homes and go hungry while seeking treatment for a duration of two months.”

Up to RM750 from the RM1,000 per plate brunch will go towards this subsidy, the NSCM medical director said.

The fashion show director, Yvonne Gabriel, a former top model, has been training NCSM’s survivor models for about seven months.

“For most of these survivors, it’s a dream come true to be on the catwalk,” Dr Murallitharan said.

“The training, which is held twice weekly since March, has formed a beautiful bond and comradeship among them and it has given them a purpose and a reason to wake up to every day.”

Those interested in the event may reach the NSCM at 03-26987300 or 016-3078558.

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