Making sure that other patients don't walk alone
Colorectal cancer survivor helps fellow patients on their road to recovery
When Mr Seah Kim Swee was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2009, it was a challenging time both physically and emotionally.
Besides surgery for the Stage 3 cancer, he also had to go through chemotherapy and radiotherapy for seven months, and live with a stoma bag for nine months.
A stoma is an artificial opening from the intestine to the abdominal wall to allow drainage of faeces.
Mr Seah, who has been in remission since 2010, later used his experience to benefit other patients.
For the past six years, he has been a patient ambassador for a colorectal cancer support group.
The 70-year-old shares his experiences with other colorectal cancer patients, helping to encourage and reassure them, and assuage any fear of using a stoma bag.
Together with other patient ambassadors, they act as "living examples" to those who might fear the challenges of colorectal cancer treatment, so they do not have to walk alone on the road to recovery.
For his encouraging attitude, Mr Seah was among the winners of the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient Awards 2017.
Thirty-two other patients and five patient support groups also received the awards, which were given out on Tuesday.
Said Mr Seah: "As a cancer patient, I feel the need to help other patients. I know how difficult the treatment process can be, both physically and emotionally.
"I saw how tough it was on my loved ones so I try to share my experience with other patients and their caregivers."
Mr Seah was nominated by Ms Carol Loi, a counsellor with the colorectal surgery department in Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
Said Ms Loi: "He's very pleasant and always smiling... He really wants to motivate the patients to take care of themselves and help them go back to their normal lives."
Mr Seah attributed his award to the efforts of fellow members of the SGH-NCCS Colorectal Cancer Support Group.
"(The award) represents all the efforts of the group," he said.
Formed in 2008, the support group is a collaboration between SGH and the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS).
It provides support to patients and caregivers in the form of educational talks by experts such as dietitians, sharing sessions by patient ambassadors like Mr Seah, and exercise programmes like taiji.
The Singapore Health Inspirational Patient Awards was started in 2010 and is organised by SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre.
A SingHealth spokesman said that the purpose of the award is to celebrate inspirational patients who display extraordinary courage, strength and resilience in the face of healthcare challenges, and to encourage other patients and caregivers.
Last year, a new category was introduced to honour patient support groups, which also play a crucial role in the healthcare journey of many patients and caregivers.
Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer among males here, and the second most common for females, revealed a 2010-2014 study by the National Registry of Diseases Office.