KOTA KINABALU July 13, 2011: Traveling is a good way to spend your retirement, that is if you are on a holiday-making trip and not desperately seeking treatment for your terminal illness.
Already weakened by multiple surgery and chemotherapy, the long flight on economy class is not exactly what a middle-aged would be looking forward to.
But this is what a cancer patient, Loh Foh Chin has to endure at the age of 53.
She was diagnosed with uterus cancer and has gone through two operations and countless chemotherapy sessions.
The doctor said her cancer has spread and she needed a radiotherapy. So, she was brought by her family to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Two (formerly known as Sabah Medical Centre) where the only radiotherapy facility in the State is available.
But Loh has no luck. The old machine was out of service and she has no choice but to travel to another government facility in Kuala Lumpur if she is to get the treatment in time.
Her daughter, Thien Yuen Fong, related her mother’s ordeal to the media, frustrated why the government could not provide the much needed radiotherapy service for her mother right here in Sabah.
“My mother was transferred to KL on June 19 but while there, she had to wait for three weeks before receiving her first radiotherapy. We are not well off and cannot afford to send her to a private hospital, so we just waited.
“She’s all alone there. No relative or family to accompany her. Crying is all she can do,” said the daughter, sobbing.
Kota Kinabalu Democratic Action Party (DAP) Youth wing helped set up a press conference for Thien to highlight the dire need for improving the medical services in the State.
Its chief, Junz Wong, pointed out that for many years there has been only one radiotherapy machine to cater for all the patients in Sabah.
“Previously, before SMC was bought over by the government, the hospital rented the machine. Now after taking over the SMC, the government is still renting it.
“It is disappointing that after 48 years, Sabah’s medical and health services still do not have the environment, system and infrastructure required to allow Sabahans to be treated adequately,” he said.
He added that Sabah deserves better treatment from the Federal government, as it is a major contributor to the country’s economy.
“The State has contributed so much revenue to the national coffer but in return only received less than 10% of the overall national budget.
“Putrajaya hospital in Kuala Lumpur has three radiotherapy machines and it is not even a state. The Health Ministry should consider providing a new, not old unreliable radiotherapy machine for cancer patients in Sabah,” he said further.
So far, Loh has received five radiotherapy treatments. She still has 20 to go.