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Bangkok Breast Cancer Fundraiser Update

Remember back in November when we ate, drank and partied hard at Centara Watergate sky bar to raise money for BBCSG Chemo Pump appeal? Topped up with SILC Welfare funds, we managed to raise the full 50,000 THB and in March we were invited to Chula Hospital’s Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer to see our funds in action.It tured out that they have enough pumps now so what exactly was our money spent on? Very early on a Saturday morning, Sue, Chris, Marianne and I set off to investigate.

Wow! Instead of a piece of equipment, we had paid for 120 women from the slums of Bangkok to have the sort of screening programme we all take for granted. This amazing project was set up by Dr Kris Chatamra and his wife Khunying Finola to take education, screening and support to the poorest in Bangkok. Using the centre’s state of the art equipment and world leading expertise, 3 or 4 times per year 200 doctors, nurses and technicians give up their time to open their doors to women who can least afford care but, often as sole providers for their families, can least afford not to.

On arrival Khunying Finola, kindly showed us round. The women, selected by the grassroots community such as Sister Joan and Sister Louise, are checked in, have their height, weight, BMI and bone density logged, then head off for a digital mammogram and pap smear. The aim is to screen, analyse and feed back within the day by using the most up to date equipment. (A revelation to the 3 of us familiar with UK NHS facilities) Most of these ladies can scarcely afford a day off and often have no childcare so, as an incentive, there are all sorts of treats on offer in order to coax them in-for the women, screening is followed by a pamper session, snacks, goody bags,lunch and free childcare and for their kids, it’s party time!

Sue and I had been rather worried we would have to deal with a real life boob (not the other 2, they are both nurses and have seen it all before) but we were sent where we were most useful, the crèche! There were clowns and a great magician; dressing up and face painting; toys, games and balloons; pizza, ice-cream and a very well stocked craft area where we soon took charge, making bracelets, hair bands and painted bags. For most of these kids, it was very obviously a huge treat and there was a real buzzy atmosphere. Our favourite was a little girl who was thrilled with every craft experience and couldn’t believe she was lucky enough to be allowed to take it home. In fact, quite a few were reluctant to let the glue dry in case it never came back!

The project is fantastic- an international centre of excellence offering their services free to the poorest in the community. It’s also incredibly well run by people with a passion for excellence equaled only by their passion for giving back. This is a project SILC hope to continue to support in the coming year, both by volunteering to help out at future events and also by fundraising. Making a difference in the lives of 120 people and by extension their families, was very humbling and all because you lovely ladies were generous enough to help- thank you!

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