Supporting breast cancer patients in Vietnam

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Published: 4 Sep 2023
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Ms Thu Ha Hoang - Founder, Kien Cuong Cancer Support Club, Vietnam

Ms Thu Ha Hoang, founder of the Kien Cuong Cancer Support Club, speaks to ecancer at SEABCS 2023 about how the organisation supports breast cancer patients in Vietnam.

Kien Cuong Cancer Support Club was established in 2014 with the aim to connect networks of breast cancer survivors. Some of the projects led by the club include hosting talks by oncology doctors for members, and bi-annual fundraising parties.

Ms Hoang is a breast cancer survivor. She concludes by offering her advice to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, which is to closely follow their doctor's indications for treatment.

I’m one of the founders of the network of Kien Cuong Club in Vietnam. It is an organisation about breast cancer; it was established in 2014. Its presence makes connections between more than 2,500 breast cancer survivors across the country. We practice more to the physicians’ [inaudible] to stay positive. That means we try to encourage breast cancer patients and survivors to found the breast free group by their prophase. So they can make lots of connectivities. 

What projects have the Kien Cuong Cancer Support Club worked on?

As breast cancer survivors we face a lot of challenges, always. Some of us are usually worried about the recurrence of the disease; some are feeling very distressed because they feel they are not provided sufficient support. In the rural countryside some suffer from discrimination. They always ask what to eat to avoid recurrence of the disease. The network thinks we should do something to help our members to stay positive, so first we hold meetings for which we invite oncology doctors to come to talk about the disease and proven treatments so our members can clearly understand. We invite [inaudible] to talk about foods, good or bad foods, suitable diets for breast cancer survivors.

To make a closer connectivity between some members, twice a year we organise two events. The first is the birthday of the network, we often organise this in March, and in December we organise a year-end party for the health members who come from the provinces across country. For example, last year members attended this end of year party and some of our members, they are very poor, they are disadvantaged people and we did fundraising, we made donations and made good insurance to our poor and disadvantaged members. So far we have donated about eighty medical insurances to our members.

What advice would you give to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients?

I’m a breast cancer survivor for twelve years and during treatment I always closely followed the doctor’s indications for the treatment. I don’t take any herbs, some kind of supplements, instead of the proven treatments. I always like to find the very good and proper information about diet and exercise for breast cancer survivors. I think with this information I am a well-informed breast cancer survivor and I can make a very quick and good recovery from the illness. 

In Vietnam, especially in the rural countryside, the people who suffer from cancer, sometimes they don’t want to go to hospital, to take the conventional treatment. They want to take herbs and they apply herbs to the tumour. It’s not a treatment. They take some kind of mushrooms instead of the medical. It’s not a good treatment, it’s not a proper treatment for this cancer so the disease progresses very quickly and is stage 4. They can’t withstand in this openness they go to hospital but it is too late to have treatment. The doctors say it means their lives can’t be cured, or can’t cure the cancer. 

My advice to the people who newly diagnosed with cancer, is that they should quickly go to hospital to see the doctor and to have a good examination and to have conventional treatment in hospital first.