Caring Physicians Of The World

Congratulations to Datuk Dr. T. Devaraj for being listed in the World Medical Association’s 100 Caring Physicians of the World. He is the Chairman of the Penang Hospice Society and the Vice-Chairman of the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Penang Branch. His work with cancer patients is truly selfless and commendable. This recognition is well-deserved. His contribution to both organisations and his compassion to those under his care is altruism at its highest level. In her last days, Mum had the privilege to be under his care. He was gentle, soft-spoken and reassuring. I am sure she was consoled by his kind words. I was. Well done Dr. Devaraj! God bless you.

The following is the article in today’s The Star:

Doctor does country proud Malaysian recognised as a caring physician

ALOR STAR: Datuk Dr T. P. Devaraj has done Malaysia proud. He is the first and only Malaysian to be listed in the World Medical Association’s 100 Caring Physicians of the World.

Although there is an allocation for 100 personalities, recognition was given to only 65 physicians from 55 countries.

A panel of judges selected physicians who have demonstrated humanity and the core values of medicine in performing their duties based on nominations submitted by national medical associations.

Penang Medical Association chairman Dr Goh Eng Leong said such recognition was a great honour to the medical fraternity here.

The Malaysian Medical Association recently held a ceremony at the Penang Club to celebrate Dr Devaraj’s achievement.

Dr Devaraj is known for his charitable work in aid of cancer patients.

He is the Penang Hospice chairman, and National Cancer Society of Malaysia branch vice-chairman.

World Medical Association (WMA) immediate past president Dr Yank Coble, who initiated the Caring Physician initiative, expressed hope that the physicians’ remarkable stories would help restore pride, passion, enthusiasm and optimism among the medical practitioners.

The book was launched in Santiago, Chile, on Oct 12 during the WMA annual assembly.

Physicians profiled in the book include Mamphela Ramphele of South Africa who was imprisoned for her anti-apartheid political activities, John Awoonor-Williams from Ghana for single-handedly serving a vast remote region and Valentin Pokrovsky for being the first in Russia to instil awareness on HIV infection and AIDS.

Also included in the book are Sister Lucia Yu from Korea who spent more than two decades in Kenya to attend to patients suffering from malaria and tuberculosis and Nanshan Zhong who played a vital role during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in China in 2002.

The book was published with the support of the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative.

Related entry:
Malaysian Medical Resources – Caring Physicians of the World

Launching Of Relay For Life 2006

Rumah Hospis, Penang.

Relay For Life 2006 will be launched on November 19, 2006 at 4:00pm. The official launching will be done by YB Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon and it will be held in Rumah Hospis. Cancer awareness, prevention, early detection and palliative care is one cause that is close to my heart, having lost Mum to leukeamia. I have so often heard from friends who have loved ones or friends suffering from cancer, some succumbing to it.

We can help them fight this by giving them the support they need, whether by donating to causes that help them, or giving our time and effort in assisting organisations that are helping them. Helping the Penang Hospice provide them palliative care is one of the things we can do. We can also show our support by participating in the Relay For Life. This is one event that is now being celebrated worldwide to promote cancer awareness, among others. The following is the blurb from the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Penang Branch:

Relay For Life arose in 1985 hen a volunteer of the American Cancer Society (ACS), Dr. Gordon Klatt, decided to jog around a “padang” in Tacoma, Washington soon after a friend of his died of cancer. As he ran others joined him, donations were made at the end of the twenty-four hours. Donations to the ACS amounted to USD27,000. This was then adopted by the ACS as a programme to increase awareness of cancer and its control,to celebrate survivors, remember those who had died and to raise funds or the fight against cancer including the research.

Malaysia was the 18th country in the world to join in the American Cancer Society’s signature event when the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Penang Branch was awarded the license to run Relay For Life. Relay For Life – Fighting Cancer Together was held for the first time in the country at Taman Perbandaran Pulau Pinang in March 2005. Hundreds of people came forward to walk or run through the night in solidarity with those having cancer, to honour the many survivors and remember those who had lost their lives.

Leading to the success of the first event in 2005 the Society will continue to step up efforts to increase public knowledge of cancer – its causes, stepping up prevention or early detection, proper treatment and support care for all cancer patients.

Through this campaign we also hope to reduce the stigma associated with cancer. It will also be an opportunity to highlight the fact that there are many survivors of cancer in the country, which in turn will have a positive impact on the current wholly negative perception of cancer.

From 19 November 2005, we will recruit teams of ten volunteers who will provide information to the public – family and friends, their neighbourhood or the workplace using flyers and brochures about cancer control. At the same time they will solicit funds for the Society to fight cancer. Other approaches will be by holding talks, exhibitions, a series of articles in the press and spots on radio and TV.

Taking on Relay For Life is a huge undertaking for our Society. We look forward to our members, volunteers, supporters and staff to rise to this challenge. Working together we can help reduce the burden of cancer.

The relay event itself will be from 11 – 12 March 2006 at the Taman Perbandaran Pulau Pinang which is being kindly sponsored by the MPPP. This will be a celebration – with team members walking or running around a “padang” over these two days, a walk by survivors of cancer and a remembrance of all those who fought cancer but in vain as the highlights. It will be a family fun event with music, singing, dances, games and, of course food.

For further information, please contact:
National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Penang Branch
A2.27, KOMTAR, 10000 Pulau Pinang.
Tel: 04-261 4140

Hospice-At-Home Programme / Rumah Hospis Pulau Pinang
250-A, Jalan Air Itam, 10460 Pulau Pinang.
Tel: 04-228 4140

Bald Me

Photos by Wuan.

It was a sunny morning last Saturday. The time had arrived for me to make good my pledge to the Hair For Hospice campaign. Wuan helped me into the barber shop. As soon as Thanabalan the barber turned on the electric shaver, the monotonous whirring sound stabbed me with a deep sense of an impending loss. Finally, the hair that I had came to love and preened for more than three years would be shorn off, bit by bit, until there was none. Images of the times when Mum had lovingly gathered them all together and made a pony tail swirled in my head. That was eight years ago. I had kept it long then but decided to cut it off for reasons I am unable to recall now. This time, I kept it even longer, to remind me of those times. It was coming off, all of it. For a few minutes, as Thanabalan was busy with his shaver on my scalp, I sat there silent and disconsolate. A part of me, my link to the past and to Mum, was being taken away from me, and I willingly allowed it.

Photos by Wuan.

Before long, all of it came off, including the ponytail that was shorn right off my scalp. Wuan held it up. For a moment, she stood there like a victorious headhunter with her prized scalp skinned off the warrior of an enemy tribe. I looked at her blankly. Another chapter of my life had come to a close. The long mane that I had lovingly washed and conditioned and combed has been stripped off me. I felt naked without the flowing hair covering parts of me. Another chapter has begun. I wondered what Mum would have said had she seen me that day.

Photos by Wuan.

Where I sat, there was no mirror, not that I wanted to see how I looked without a headful of hair. It felt weird. It felt cool. It felt light. Thanabalan took out the razor and proceeded to make it a clean shave. The rude scraping sounds as the sharp blade moved against the stubbles made me cringe. The last time I was partially shaved clean was when the neurosurgeon wanted to screw a pair of tongs for the skull traction. It was to release the compression of the fractured spine against the spinal cord. That did not work after seven weeks. I had to undergo surgery to remove the bone fragment and set the displaced vertebras right. My fifth and sixth cervical vertebras were fused together for added stability. The scars were still there after twenty one long years. Those were grim reminders of a time when I was carefree and careless. I reached out to the sides of my head and touched them. The scars were deeper than I had expected.

Photos by Wuan.

Within half and hour, it was all gone, the hair that had been part of me for many years. I looked at Wuan. She smiled back. I touched my now bald head. It was an uncanny sensation. The feeling of loss was even greater but there was also a sense of accomplishment. Surprisingly, I felt contented when Thanabalan made the last shave with the razor; certain that the money raised will be put to good use; certain that a handful of people out there will be able to get the palliative care to ease their momentary sufferings here; certain that Mum would have approved of this and would have encouraged me. That was what I had wanted to do since more than two years ago. I have done it. I am thankful. This is for you Mum!