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EMPOWERED’s ‘Love Your Butt. Check Your Guts’ Colorectal Cancer Awareness Day

13th - 14th May 2017

EMPOWERED The Cancer Advocacy Society of Malaysia debuts “Love Your Butt, Check Your Guts”

Petaling Jaya, Selangor (13th May, 2017) – Empowered, The Cancer Advocacy Society of Malaysia rolled out its 2017 Colorectal Cancer Awareness, Screening & Treatment Project (CCASTP) at the Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya. Officiated by Dr. Rozlan bin Ishak, Deputy Director of the Kuala Lumpur State Health Office, the opening ceremony was immediately followed by a highly energised 2-day awareness campaign themed as “Love Your Butt, Check Your Guts”. Smart collaboration between partnering Health and Fitness Experts, as well as Medical Industries pulled in the Malaysian crowds and effectively imparted vital colorectal cancer messages. Colorectal cancer is the commonest cancer in men, and second commonest cancer in women in Malaysia.

“Love Your Butt, Check Your Guts” awareness campaign is part of EMPOWERED’s yearly customized CCASTP, using fecal immunohistochemical test (FIT) kits in low-income communities in Malaysia. Since 2009, EMPOWERED’s fervent commitment has enabled this live saving program to reach nearly 100,000 Malaysians living in under-resourced communities. 6-year findings derived from this project from 2009 to 2015 were recently published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. Based on the data collected, the level of awareness of stool examination and knowledge about colorectal cancer was poor amongst its participants in low-income Malaysian communities. Gender, age group, ethnicity and risk factors (smoking, sedentary lifestyle and low consumption of fresh fruits) were associated with positive FIT-kit results. Although colorectal cancer knowledge and awareness is poor in low-income communities, the average return rate of the FIT kits and rate of compliance with colonoscopy examination were 91.2% and 70.3%, respectively.

This year, EMPOWERED’s “Love Your Butt, Check Your Guts” awareness campaign adopted a lifestyle theme with energetic fitness and dance classes, chemical free mineral makeovers, sessions with medical rehabilitation specialists, cooking classes and treasure hunts. Fifteen creatively designed teaching and games booths highlighted key colorectal cancer messages including risk factors, hereditary cancer syndromes, stages of cancer, screening and treatment options for the disease.

President, and Founder of EMPOWERED, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Dr. Christina Ng Van Tze is an ardent advocate for colorectal cancer screening and prevention. She shares about the importance of ensuring that EMPOWERED’s CCASTP beneficiaries are equipped with emotional support and an accurate road map towards obtaining optimal medical intervention. EMPOWERED’s beneficiary, Madam Yeoh Wei Ling, was diagnosed with pre-cancerous polyps in EMPOWERED 2014 CCASTP. Madam Yeoh shares vividly, “I was overwhelmed when I received the news that there was blood in my stool. I was afraid, and I thought I was going to die“. She continues, “But thanks to EMPOWERED, their volunteers patiently sat with me through many hours of waiting in the hospital, and explained the medical jargons. They helped me ask the questions that I did not know to ask. On top of everything, I did not need to pay a cent!”

Tuan Haji Zainuddin Mohammad Tahir, an EMPOWERED spokesperson and colorectal cancer survivor shared how colorectal cancer transformed his life, “I was diagnosed with stage 2 colorectal cancer in 1978. I was so afraid due to the lack of knowledge and awareness that I had about cancer. But I made a decision to do surgery and now use a stoma bag for life. The stoma bag has had many effects on my daily life”. As a patient, he applauded EMPOWERED’s wholesome efforts in working for low-income communities, “I really appreciate EMPOWERED’s work to bring free screening and treatment to low-income communities.

Dr Ng is grateful for the continuous support of the Ministry of Health. “The vital alliance between EMPOWERED and the Ministry of Health is an example of how non-profit organizations, the public, together with private sectors can work seamlessly to progress the Government’s agenda towards a healthier Malaysia”, says Dr Ng.

The Learning Booth Messages of Empowered’s 2017 Colorectal Cancer Awareness Campaign.

Booth 1: My Colon
- This booth explains the anatomy of colon and educates the public on the functions and components of our colon.

Booth 2: Warning Signs
- This booth educates the public to understand the warning signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer and seek medical attention early.

Booth 3: Am I at Risk?
- Getting a grasp of our individual risk of developing colorectal cancer empowers Malaysians with insight to adopt medically proven prevention strategies and live healthy lifestyles.

Booth 4: Understanding Stages of Cancer
- With the help of medical graphics, this booth imparts a clear understanding of the various stages of colorectal cancer.

Booth 5: Know My Family History
- Family history is one of the key risk factors for colorectal cancer.

Booth 6: My Genes and Cancer
- This booth provides an in-depth insight into the power of our genes and how inherent errors in our genes can dramatically change our life destiny and increase our individual risk of developing colorectal cancer at a young age.

Booth 7: Power to Prevent Cancer
- This station details out the practical knowledge about empowering lifestyle adjustments and the power of screening and prevention methods.

Booth 8: Colorectal Cancer Can Be Cured
- This station provides the bullet points of the goals of curative surgery as well as graphically explains about the types of surgery for colorectal cancer. A demonstration of stoma bags visually reinforces public understanding about this taboo topic.

Booth 9: Breakthrough in Cancer Treatment
- An illustration of the functions and aims of systemic therapy in colorectal cancer helps to clear misconceptions about an often misunderstood area about chemotherapy.

Booth 10: See & Touch!
- An exhibition of real life models of human colon with colorectal cancer.

Images of EMPOWERED’s ‘Love Your Butt. Check Your Guts’ Colorectal Cancer Awareness Day