“The evolution of treatments over the past decade has led to effective treatments that can be well-tolerated by patients.”
Few diseases are as dreaded and as prevalent as cancer. It’s the developed world’s greatest affliction, and one of the last rontiers of medicine that man has yet to conquer. But until that day comes, oncologists like Dr Lim Hwee Yong, senior consultant and director at Novena Cancer Centre, will continue to fight the good fight, not just by saving lives but by preserving their quality as well.
What drives him in this line of work is a desire to help patients and their families find direction when faced with this life-changing disease, as well as an intellectual thirst for the evolution of cancer treatments. What keeps him sane enough to keep at it though, is going for long runs, skiing, hiking and yoga. “I am motivated to stay healthy both in mind and body by reminding myself that the patients and their family are relying on my help and guidance,” he says.
Part of that guidance involves reassuring people that cancer does not, in fact, mean the end. Or even the end of life as they know it. “The evolution of treatments over the past decade has led to effective treatments that can be well-tolerated by patients, allowing them to maintain an active lifestyle.”
But the key is to face the initial fear. “Dispel misconceptions and discuss the approach to treatment with a professional,” he advises. “The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the treatment and the better the chances of a cure or at least an effective treatment.”
A NEW HOPE
Because the reality is that many early-stage cancers can be cured. Common ones like breast and colon cancer have a cure rate of more than 90 per cent at the earliest stages. Of course, every case is different, as is every patient, so treatment will be personalised and recovery times will vary.
“It can be months or years. And if the cancer cannot be fully eliminated, then the goal will be to provide a durable good quality of life for the patient undergoing treatment. In some cases, this can mean many years of active, meaningful, high quality life.” In this sense, modern medicine has given us hope as well as a substantial way to keep going.
For more information, visit Novena Cancer Centre, #09-41, 38 Irrawaddy Road. Singapore 329563. Tel: 6339 0233.
HEALTH SPECIAL – DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE