Breast cancer remains one of the most serious challenges to the lives of Cambodian women. It was responsible for 7.1 per cent of all cancer fatalities in 2020. Although there remain many last-stage diagnoses due to people’s lack of awareness of the disease, this is beginning to change.
October was global Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with several workshops and social media campaigns contributing to increasing the public’s knowledge of the illness. Like all cancers, catching the disease early is key to a positive outcome.
A second-year student at Paragon University who lost her beloved grandmother to the disease was among the voices that shared her story.
Sokha Chan Socheata listened to her grandmother complain about the pain of her disease until she passed away. He grandmother had no knowledge of the illness, or any idea that treatment was available. The student is determined to share as much information about breast cancer as she can, so that other women won’t suffer like her grandmother.
CancerCo is the name of her website, and it was created at the beginning of the year. In addition, she has so far amassed nearly 1,000 followers on Facebook.
The website shares relevant information in the form of videos and illustrated articles.
According to Socheata, the platform also provides online counseling with cancer specialists and free health care information. It is focused on two areas: spreading knowledge among Cambodians and building communities, as well as providing a safe space for cancer patients to share their experiences.
“I and a team of about 20 people work hard to produce new content to attract the attention of people. We target social media users between the ages of 15 and 20,” she said.
She seeks out the help of medical specialists before any of the content is published, to ensure that it is medically accurate.
She conducted a survey of the fans who follow her website, and discovered that very few of them knew much about breast cancer. Some had never heard of it.
Several medical students shared their admiration for what Socheata and her team were doing, especially in their personal time, with her. The medical students felt it was important that breast cancer be talked about as much as other diseases. CancerCo’s activities were worthy of support, they said.
Socheata not only wants to keep doing what she is doing, but would like to see the website expand. She would like to organise a question and answer session to make it easier for young women to ask questions or find out more.
Thou Sarameth, deputy head and co-founder of the Chakra Cancer Clinic, was proud of the CancerCo team, and what they have done to help society.
Not only did he facilitate checking the content publish was accurate, but the doctor also played a large part in providing counseling to people who suspected they may have developed the condition.
“This platform is an excellent way to make people aware of the diseas, and its symptoms. Once they understand this, they are more likely to identify changes in their health and seek treatment as early as possible. This is the key to a successful medical outcome,” he added.
He encouraged all young people to try to find out as much as they can. When a patient presents in a critical late stage of cancer, their chances of survival are low, he warned.