Easing pain through palliative care

Volunteers interact with patients during open day.

Volunteers interact with patients during open day.

MIRI: Cancer can affect anyone regardless of age, gender and background. It’s a diagnosis we all fear.

The illness can be cured if diagnosed early enough and depending on the type of cancer. But once it reaches a certain stage, a cure is not possible. This is when palliative care is needed.

“Palliative care helps terminally ill patients through the pain, improving their quality of life as well as supporting them and their family through a stressful time.

“It is important to tell the public that palliative care neither hastens death nor prolong life. We merely allow the patient to live life to the fullest possible,” explained treasurer of Palliative Care Association Miri, Richard Wong.

Running for 10 years since it was established here in 2005, PCAM has become part of Miri’s medical services to cancer patients.

To date (up to Sept 1), PCAM has and is assisting some 70 patients – 39 cancer patients, five stroke patients and 26 outstation patients – and their families with the help of two full-time nurses, an administrative nurse and 10 volunteers running the centre near Krokop 1.

The services offered by PCAM include home visits by qualified volunteers with focus on adequate symptom control; regular home visits to ensure patient and care-givers are coping; free loan of medical equipment when needed; bereavement visits, counselling and daycare centre for social activities from 9am to noon every Tuesday.

The PCAM committee is led by Dr Loh Yunn Hua, a respected family doctor with Jackie Buri as vice-president, secretary Vivian Sheila, vice-secretary Lucy Siew and committee members Veronica Wong, Remy Yii, Catherine Goh, Rose Lim and Margaret Wong.

As the centre is run by volunteers and depends on public donation, public support is important.

“We particularly need volunteer nurses, medical staff, counsellors and interpreters. We also need people willing to give their time and offer their service.

“Much of our income comes from two big annual fundraising events namely annual charity dinner and charity run; and support from local companies, associations and private donations.

“Everything done is free of charge so we need everybody’s support to finance these activities,” he said.

The donations are used to provide medical supplies to patients such as nursing beds, ripple mattresses, reclinable wheelchairs, nebulizers, commodes, back rests, oxygen concentrators and consumable medical equipment such as gauze, colostomy bags, microspore elastoplasts, nasal prongs and adult disposable diapers.

The salaries of the centre’s three full time nurses, house rent and other charges also need to be paid.

“Volunteers unable to take part in home visits could attend open day when they can talk with the patients, listen to their problems, share jokes, give them a massage and play games with them.

“The greatest thing we have achieved is to see patients smile and go home in high spirit. Seeing this makes us feel we are making a positive impact on many families in and around Miri,” he said.

Those who like to know more about Palliative care Association Miri or feel they can help in any way, can contact PCAM nurses at 012 845 6480 or Richard Wong (013-8303827).

Chairman of SUPP Piasau branch Datuk Sebastian Ting assists a nurse tending to a patient at the centre.

Chairman of SUPP Piasau branch Datuk Sebastian Ting assists a nurse tending to a patient at the centre.