Today, we all know the term ‘Cancer’. Cancer can affect anyone, one way or another. Almost everyone knows someone who got sick or died from cancer.
Cancer begins when genetic changes interfere with the orderly process of cell growth where cells grow and divide to make new cells as the human body needs them. Consequently, cells die when they get too old or damaged and replaced with new cells. However, cancer begins when abnormal cells start to grow uncontrollably and these cells form a mass called a tumour.
Individuals with cancer may have no symptoms. At other times, cancer may be detected during at a visit to the doctor’s to report pain, bleeding or a lump in the body or change in bowel habits just to name a few.
For majority of cancers, a definitive diagnosis is achieved through a biopsy. This involves collecting a tissue sample for closer examination. The tissue sample is sent to a specialist laboratory for analysis. The biopsy results will show if the cells are cancerous and depending on how mature the cancerous cells are the type or origin of the cancer can be determined.
The degree of maturity is also associated with the aggressiveness of the cancer. Low-grade (stage 1) cancers are generally the least aggressive and high-grade (stage 4) cancers are generally the most aggressive. This information will subsequently help to guide treatment options.
Broadly, cancer treatment options include:
- Targeted therapy
In addition to the uncertainties of a cancer diagnosis, one of the most worrying effects of cancer treatment is the staggering costs from both medical and ancillary costs of cancer care, compounded by loss of income secondary time off work or loss of independence secondary to the disease.
Beacon Hospital’s CSR Program.
Every little helps.
Recently, I had a chance to meet Victor Chia, Chief Executive Director of Beacon Hospital located in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. We discussed on one of Beacon’s approaches to cancer care.
Cancer treatment journey is not easy. It can be physically, emotionally and financially challenging. Oftentimes, those who can afford have a better chance of surviving due to more options in treatment. The poor are usually left with limited options due to high costs, making treatment options less accessible for them.
Beacon Hospital’s Founder, Madam Mary Chen believes that expensive and high-tech machines are of no use if it is not accessible due to cost. With this in mind, Madam Mary Chen and Mr. Victor Chia started a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme in 2010 to with an aim to reduce the burden of cancer care on patients hence, making cancer treatment options more accessible to the less privileged.
Though it may be quite hard to believe that a non-charity private hospital is so willingly subsidising care in this day and age, here is what I have understood about their the categories of welfare funds available through this programme:
- The Radiotherapy Welfare Fund aims to subsidise the cost of treatment for low-income patients undergoing radiotherapy or radiosurgery.
- The Chemotherapy Welfare Fund aims to support low-income patient’s cost of chemotherapy treatment for a pre-selected range of chemotherapy protocols. The normal cost of these chemotherapy treatment regime range between RM4,000 to RM6,000 per cycle. Patients typically require 4-8 cycles of treatment. Under thisprogramme, patients only pay about 10% of the charges including professional fees.
- The Targeted Therapy Welfare Fund is aimed at low-income HER2+ breast cancer patients to make Targeted Therapy more accessible by subsidising the cost of treatment. Patients are only pay RM2,500 per cycle for Trastuzumab treatment compared to the normal cost of RM9,000-RM10,000 per cycle.
“To date, more than RM22 million has been channeled for CSR purposes. Profit-making is not our first priority at Beacon and we don’t strive for a six-star environment. We operate on a lean budget. Even our consultants are willing to travel economy class for our CSR programs.” Madam Mary Chen during an interview with The Edge.
“If you really don’t have (money), we will see how to help. Yes, there are people who have taken advantage. Not many, and it’s still worth it. You cannot make things very strict because of these few percent. If you have a lot of terms and conditions, better don’t give, I feel. So, I always tell the CSR team. Treat first, then we will see how many percent [discount] we want to give later. We treat our CSR patients like VIPs because we want them to feel that they are not in the third class. Even if you have no money to pay, you get the same treatment. It’s our service.” Victor Chia during an interview with The Edge.
Beacon Gives Hope to Cancer Patients.
“I did not understand what a beacon is. They said at the seaside, you have the light [in] the darkness. Suddenly, in my mind, I thought, okay lor, because when a person is first diagnosed with cancer, the world becomes very dark for him (or her) — there is no hope. So, Beacon comes in to give light by providing the top doctors, machines and service.” Madam Mary Chen during an interview with The Edge.
Beacon means ‘light’.
When patients first know that they have cancer, their world is in often a total darkness. Beacon wants to provide hope to cancer patients, the 1st light is to provide the best specialists care and medicine, the 2nd light is to provide the best medical equipment, the 3rd light is to provide additional love and care, the 4th light is to provide this care at reasonable price and the 5th light is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – to give back to the community.
Both normal and CSR-supported patients are treated at Beacon Hospital with the same facilities, healthcare providers and all attended to with equal love, care and empathy.
The Tipping Point.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point talked about the Law of the Few. With a good proposition, what he calls “Stickiness Factor”, and solid “Context”, a tipping point can be achieved with a few key people – Connectors, Maven and Salesman. The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.
Beacon Hospital has a team of more than 80 multidisciplinary medical specialists and 9 oncologists with more than 20 years of experience in providing cancer care.
The hospital has a clear goal to provide cancer care to all who are seeking treatment. They built their values on a backbone of a CSR mandate to save lives. Contrary to what one might think of subsidized care, the team does not compromise on the quality of care. People noticed. Patients and their families, and doctors trusted the hospital and its brand. This became Beacon Hospital’s strong and “sticky” value proposition on cancer care.
Over time, these values became word-of-mouth and independent “mavens” shared their insights within various communities. There is no sales per se, but patients bring patients and doctors recommend the hospital. Connections built over the years of goodwill, brought good doctors, and patients.
The Tipping Point is clear. Beacon Hospital despite its CSR generosity, is sustainable. It is expanding to cater to more patients both locally and internationally.
Respect and Gratitude.
I am very proud of the good work and success of Madam Mary and Mr. Victor Chia together with their team. And I deeply respect and thank them for their generosity to help patients in need.
Thank you Beacon Hospital for your effort. Proudly Malaysian. Doing good for Malaysians.
If you or anyone has been affected by cancer and wish to apply for this fund, you may reach out to the Beacon CSR team by calling +6011-1090 6588 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org