Cancer: It’s Time for You to Get Up Close and Personal

The HYPE team is working with Singapore Cancer Society to raise awareness of the importance of early cancer screenings and how some lifestyle habits could lead to adverse health effects.

Photo courtesy of Aina Syura

Lifestyle Editor of HYPE Issue #52

Places Editor of
HYPE Issue #52

Published on
July 7, 2020
twins Aina Syura and Aina Syar posing for Make A Wish Foundation

Twins Aina Syura (left) and Aina Syara: Covergirls for the Make A Wish Foundation when Aina Syara was recovering from leukemia. Photo courtesy of Aina Syura.

The HYPE x SCS Collaboration

If you’ve been wondering why there are videos featuring HYPE by the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) on Instagram, read on to find out why!

SCS launched the ‘Cancer Challenge’ in commemoration of World Cancer Day 2021, rallying 21 different industries in the fight against cancer. World Cancer Day (WCD), held on 4 February annually, is a campaign founded by the Union for International Cancer Control.

In 2019, UICC launched a new 3-year campaign theme. The theme, ‘I Am and I Will’ is an empowering call-to-action urging for commitment to reduce the impact of cancer – for ourselves, the people we love, and our world. Singapore is one of the 170 countries that is a part of the UICC. You can check out the efforts made by SCS in 2021 here.

As one of the challenges, HYPE was tasked to find out how much youths know about cancer in Singapore.

Always having it (basic cancer knowledge) at the back of your mind and awareness of living a healthy lifestyle is a step forward in the fight against cancer for youths in Singapore.

- Kumudha

Acting HOD of Corporate Affairs, SCS

Importance of Early Screenings

You may wonder why youths should be aware of cancer when they belong to the age group that is least likely to be affected by cancer. Youths have a high level of influence on decisions made by the people around them. As such, parents and older relatives are more likely to heed their advice to go for early screenings- as compared to strangers.

“As a start, youths can arm themselves with basic knowledge about cancer and informed advocacy of cancer-related topics,” says, Grace Tan, Deputy Manager of Community Health Department, Singapore Cancer Society.

Early detection is important in helping doctors diagnose and treat several cancers early before symptoms emerge. When symptoms start to appear, the cancer may have already begun to spread, making it harder to treat.

According to the National University Cancer Institute Singapore (NCIS), early stages of cancer can be detected from several active screening tests. To find out more about the different types of cancer screening services available, do check out this link!

John Tan (not his real name, 19, a survivor of leukemia, shared that he had led a healthy life until he started to experience breathlessness and red rashes all over  his stomach and underarms. As his family has a history of cancer, John is more susceptible  and he was later diagnosed with leukemia. 

Luckily for him, the doctors found out his condition just in time to provide him treatment options. 

As a start, youths can arm themselves with basic knowledge about cancer and informed advocacy of cancer-related topics.

- Grace Tan

Deputy Manager of Community Health Department, SCS

Cancer is more than just a debilitating disease which affects the body physically; it also affects one’s mind and soul. Twins, Aina Syura and Aina Syara, 19, shared their inspiring story in 2014 with The Straits Times and Berita Harian.

Aina Syara was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 when she was just 7 years old. Her twin, Aina Syura, saw her twin experience the disease first-hand. Syura said that after the procedure, her sister would spend “late night(s) eating [and] she would get very moody”. 

John’s experience was similar and his self-esteem was severely affected. “I would wear silicon suits and ‘powder on’ fake hair when going to school. I didn’t want anyone to know,” John said.

Today, both John and Aini Syara have recovered and are living their lives to the fullest. John added that after his battle with leukemia, he takes the saying “you only live once” even more seriously.

Dangers of Alcohol and Smoking

Alcohol and smoking often go hand in hand, with many people associating them with leisure and celebrations

One of the most prominent cancers affecting Singaporeans is lung cancer. Tobacco smoke exposure is one of the main risk factors contributing to over 80 per cent of global lung cancer cases. 

According to Channel News Asia, Singapore’s smoking rate has reduced drastically to 10.6 per cent from a decade ago through legislative and public education efforts. However, authorities are still striving to better engage fellow Singaporeans to discourage smoking and alcohol.

According to an SCS article, by Dr. Huang Qing, Specialist, Research and Advocacy Research & Data Analytics, Singapore Cancer Society, published on Feb 19, 2018, the link between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing at least seven types of cancers has intensified. These cancers are breast, colorectal, liver, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus cancers.

The higher the level ( and frequency) of consumption, the higher the risk of developing cancer in their lifetime. The moral of the story: consume and live in moderation. 

Checkout World Cancer Day 2021!

“Always having it (basic cancer knowledge) at the back of your mind and awareness of living a healthy lifestyle is a step forward in the fight against cancer for youths in Singapore,” advised Ms Kumudha, Acting HOD of Corporate Affairs for Singapore Cancer Society. 

SCS hopes youths will become advocates for their families and friends. The voices of youth are ever more prevalent in this era where youths are increasingly educating themselves on topics concerning society. 

Mr Mark Lin, 37, Head of Psychosocial Services with Singapore Cancer Society, would like youths to have the knowledge as a repository for future use. Mr Lin said: “Maybe knowing what we do and what we stand for is good enough so they can get back to us if anything else happens.”

As part of the collaboration with Singapore Cancer Society, HYPE recently produced a few videos on the importance of early cancer screenings to youths! Check them out here!

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