Access to Treatment is Access to Life – Everyone Has a Role!
Rising Sun, as the title suggests, signifies the hope and future that patient leaders have been working toward for the cancer communities across the lands of Asia. It is a big family gathering which these patient leaders always look forward to every time, sharing the ups and downs of their work, seeking peer support, learning and growing together. Despite of the wide array of missions and different socio-contexts, Rising Sun magically unifies and empowers everyone from different pathways towards the ultimate goal of improving cancer survivorship.
Rising Sun 2018 has more than 60 participants from 18 countries, consisting of patient leaders, physicians, pharma representatives, advocates, caregivers, and volunteers. Growing beyond our original scope of capacity building, this year we have brought Rising Sun to another level: Access to Treatment is Access to Life – Everyone Has a Role! We want to explore and encourage collaborative efforts in access to cancer treatments, starting from each individuals’ contribution.
Why the theme? To patients in Asia, ‘access’ generally means getting treated in hospitals. Seldom will they think about what factors influence the availability of treatments where they live, what other options might be available, why comprehensive care is important, and what they can contribute to improve the existing condition.
“When I was newly diagnosed leukaemia on the 13th of July 2007 and was a fifth grader back then, my treatment was heavily dependent on my mother’s ability to take care of me. Now, as I grow older, I came to realize that ‘access to treatment’ means I have the right, as a patient to have the required treatment. Treatment should be considered as the basic need so that such patients will still have a chance to live a life in search for a greater meaning or purpose,” said Jhonnel M. Azarcon, a 22-year-old educator of and advocate for people living with cancers in the Philippines.
He added: “I believe I can bring impact to the community through constant and strategic social media content updates and engaging offline activities which people will love to experience. I want the people to be more understanding and open to the idea that chronic illnesses can happen to anyone at any given time.”
Through treatment access programs, as well as through capacity building platforms like the Rising Sun cancer summit provided by The Max Foundation, patients have transformed to become better people.
“Today I smile and try to pass on the joy to all who approach me for any support. I may not be financially strong, but strong in heart and soul.” said Pramod George, a father, husband, a person who generously shares each and every moment of his 15-year cancer survivorship with his peers.
Asking about the simple action that the public can take to improve the access to cancer treatment, Pramod grinned confidently: “Share your knowledge, experience, and care for others. Your positive sharing will surely brighten up some other person, not necessarily a cancer patient but even a colleague or common man you bump into.”