The passion for volunteerism and philanthropic spirit is alive and well within the WOU learning community. The University has been supporting since 2007 the Relay for Life Penang event that seeks to promote cancer awareness, celebrate cancer survivors and remember those who lost their lives to the disease.
About 25 staff and On-Campus Learning (OCL) students of WOU joined the cancer survivors in a walkabout on the grounds of Penang Hospice Society. As a silver sponsor, the University contributed RM5,000 to the event held on 4 December 2022, which returned after a two-year hiatus.
Earlier in her speech, National Cancer Society of Malaysia Penang branch (NCSM Penang) chairperson, Dr Saraswathi Bina Rai, quoted GLOBOCAN 2020 – an online global database on cancer – to state that an estimated 19.3 million new cancer cases and almost 10 million cancer deaths occur worldwide. “Female breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, followed by lung, colorectal, prostate and stomach cancers. Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death,” she elaborated.
She said lifestyle factors, which can be modified, are associated with the increasing incidence of cancer. “Around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks, that is, high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol abuse,” she added.
Dr Saraswathi asserted, “However there is hope as 30% to 50% of all cancer cases are preventable if we practise a healthy lifestyle.” Her advice: do not smoke; maintain a healthy body weight; eat a well-balanced diet; eat plenty of vegetables and fresh fruits daily; limit red meat and fat intake; and exercise regularly. She said that “one-third of cancers are curable if detected early and treated correctly”.
Also present at the launch of Relay for Life Penang organised by NCSM Penang was the branch vice chairman and event organising chairman Dato’ Seri Dr T Devaraj.
Other activities for the day included a fun walk, chair yoga sessions, batik painting, entertainment and games. The event culminated with the luminaria ceremony where participants lit lanterns and candles with messages to loved ones lost.