Cancer survivors fight back

On the day themed “Cancer- did you know?” , more than 20 people who are battling cancer, survivors of various cancers and family members of the affected and demised came together to light butter lamps at the Memorial Chorten in Thimphu on a Monday morning.

World cancer day was first organized by the International Union against Cancer in 2005.

Health ministry records show about more than 2,000 people admitted at the referral hospital in 2011. The only Gynecologist in Bhutan, Dr Ugyen Tshomo said the most common cancers diagnosed in Bhutan are stomach, cervical, head and neck cancers.

“Today many patients are diagnosed due to better diagnostics services such as MRI and CT scan and awareness programs leading to early detections,” she said.

Despite various programs initiated by the health ministry to control cancer such as banning tobacco, vaccinations, pap-smear screening and endoscopy among others, prevention of cancer calls for more initiatives such as the institution of an NGO.

With the primary objective to save many lives and support cancer patients, Bhutan Cancer Society (BCS) has been initiated by a small team of founding members which includes Dr. Ugyen Tshomo, Lily Wangchhuk, a cancer survivor and Dechen Wangmo who lost her mother and grandmother to cancer.

BCS is presently working toward its registration. It shall focus on preventive measures, supportive care, raising awareness on cancer and demystifying cancer, conduct research on cancer causes, provide information and support with a 24 hours hotline for counseling patients and their attendants.

Lily Wangchhuk said cancer affects not only the individuals but can have impact on the entire family.

BCS will also provide social support for poor people from rural Bhutan who come to Thimphu for cancer treatment and remain in the capital for several months and facilitate with the procedures in referring patients to third countries.

According to the annual health bulletin, 2012, between 2007 and 2011, around 29 people died of cervical cancer alone and around 329 have died of other cancers. At the same time, around 412 cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed.

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