My boss recently discovered that she has 2 cysts in her ovaries. She’s only 29 years old.
Prior to her checkup, her mentality regarding physical pain was something I related to: it’s tolerable and we can get over it. As with most women, she suffered from menstrual cramps monthly so she had always brushed it off as simply that.
It was only until a few weeks ago where she found herself crippled on the floor from the extreme pain in her abdominal area. So she decided to make her very first gynae appointment.
Knowing her body better than anyone else, she knew this wasn’t an ordinary cramp. And her instinct proved her right, it was revealed right away that she had cysts in her body, and she needs to take medication permanently to treat it.
Thankfully it was a disease that could be controlled, but it took her being forced to make the first step to the gynae to discover it.
(She also asked me to add in here that a gynae’s checkup isn’t as awkward as most people may think and that her doctor has a good sense of humour—which really helped.)
This experience is something many people can relate to; take cancer patients, who often assume it would never happen to them until they’re diagnosed at a dangerous stage that leaves them with little to no safety net when it comes to treatment.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 8.2 million people die from cancer each year globally with 1.2 million of these people coming from the Southeast Asia region—an alarming number that grows with time.
Cancer awareness has increased significantly in the 21st century, with governments also jumping on board. Here in Malaysia, our own Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, announced a “War on Cancer” to boost awareness on the disease.
But is it really enough though?
“Something is definitely wrong, right?”
When my boss made her gynae appointment, she went with a determination to find out exactly what the cause of the pain is. She didn’t want the doctor to run diagnostics tests and end up telling her that “everything looks normal and fine”.
Unfortunately, not many have the same mentality. Many of us tend to disregard symptoms and assume there are no serious illnesses until the shocking diagnosis is revealed.
Cancer may be the actual disease, but a huge chunk of the problems come from one major issue: awareness, or the lack thereof.
A community survey done in Kedah and Perlis showed that a high percentage of the respondents know about cancer but their level of awareness for the need for cancer screening is still low.
Education, access to healthcare facilities and socio-cultural factors still influenced the likelihood of the people to go for cancer screening and cancer treatment. Because of this lack of awareness, it’s no wonder people get taken aback when they found out the huge sum that comes with treating this fatal disease.
Just to give you an idea of how large the amount could come to, here are some statistics shared by Dato’ Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim bin Dato’ Hj. Abdul Wahid from the Clinical Oncologist of Beacon Hospital:
- Lumpectomy and mastectomy surgeries for breast cancer can go as high as RM18,000 for one procedure.
- Depending on the type of radiotherapy treatment chosen, it can go from RM1,500 to RM60,000.
- University hospitals charge less than RM1,000 per cycle for chemotherapy while private hospitals charge RM1,000 to RM25,000 per cycle.
It’s a significant amount that can greatly deplete a patient’s entire life savings.
“50% of Malaysians encounter financial catastrophe within the first year of being diagnosed with cancer,” said Eric Wong, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer of Prudential Malaysia.
Dictionary Time: Financial catastrophe is defined as more than 30% of household income spent on out-of-pocket expenses for cancer treatment because the costs go beyond hospital and medication expenses (i.e post-treatment care, caregiver’s cost).
Cancer is already an emotional and physical battle that many patients have to go through, so adding the burden of oncology treatment can put even those with good health insurance in a tough financial situation.
“So what are my options for treatment?”
In these kind of situations, staying prepared is always essential.
Before heading to her check-up, my boss discussed seriously with her spouse about what options they have should the results lead to cancer, and they discovered on how important it was to have the right insurance plan to help with these kind of situations.
With a mission to provide financial freedom and peace of mind for all Malaysians, Prudential Malaysia recently introduced PRUcancer X, a solution that can be used to cover the high treatment expenses and potential income loss if one has to stop work to focus on the recovery.
With coverage of up to RM2 million, it’s one of the highest coverage for a cancer-specific insurance plan available in the market, including local and overseas care.
One of the things they considered when coming up with this product was making sure it came with an affordable price tag, which can go as low as RM34 monthly.
Some of the other benefits include:
- Early-stage cancer coverage: The plan provides a portion of the coverage amount upon the diagnosis of specific types of cancer including carcinoma in-situ.
- Compassionate benefit: In the event of death, the plan will provide a fixed benefit to assist the family of the deceased with funeral expenses.
- Easy enrolment: Patients are only required to answer five underwriting questions that are specific to cancer risks only.
It’s easy to assume that we are immune to these diseases because there are no clear symptoms, but as my boss has experienced herself, it is these same beliefs that could be the downfall to our health in the long run.
- If you’d like to find out more information on PRUcancer X, you can check out their official website here.
This article was written in collaboration with Prudential.
Feature Image Credit: topontiki.gr