We spoke to Mahes, the Patient Navigation Programme Navigator (PNP) coordinator to shed some light on the programme and what motivates her to keep doing the work she does.
The Patient Navigation Programme (first established in 1990) was kicked off in 2015 at the Hospital Tunku Ampuan Rahimah (HTAR) where a team of doctors, nurses and community navigators come together to help patients sort out logistics, financial and emotional barriers – all this on top of guiding patients through complicated cancer treatments – to ensure they have access to all the services required.
In an effort to introduce the faces that work tirelessly behind the scenes, we’re kicking it off with a quick chat with Mahes, our PNP Coordinator. As the programme’s coordinator, Mahes focuses on communicating with the navigators to understand the daily challenges they face with patients.
“These are the individuals who are in the first line of defence in the fight against cancer. So, I’d make it a point to talk to them on a daily basis.”
When she’s not at HTAR with her team of navigators, you’d often find her poring over journals, counselling patients, visiting patients at their homes or preparing for presentations to convince various stakeholders to take on the programme. The programme is currently in the works to be expanded to other hospitals within the state and soon after, other states within Malaysia.
Inspired by her late maternal grandmother who served 25 years as a nurse caring for geriatric, pediatric surgery and pediatric rehabilitation unit, Mahes inevitably grew up listening to stories about children healing after a disease. That in turn, spurred her interest for the line of work.
Another driving factor is the fact that Mahes lost her paternal grandmother to ovarian cancer and even completed her nursing diploma at HTAR. It’s safe to say that returning to HTAR with a programme that promises to improve a breast cancer patient’s quality of life has somewhat made her journey come full-circle.
A Changed Perspective
“Being spared from losing my life got me to focus on work that allowed me to help others.”
In 2014, a huge wake-up call came knocking on her door – in the form of a major accident where both Mahes and her mother were pinned down by a MPV.
“I honestly thought that was the last day of my life. That near-death experience taught me that life is extremely unpredictable. Being spared from losing my life got me to focus on work that allowed me to help others. I felt that if I was lucky enough to have gotten a second chance in life, I cannot let that go to waste! I took it as a sign to be a part of something that’s bigger than myself.”
I felt that if I was lucky enough to have gotten a second chance in life, I cannot let that go to waste
Knowledge is Key
“I do sincerely hope that Malaysian women are aware that they can get breast screenings done even at their nearest Klinik Kesihatan. It’s always good to know what is available at the community level so when the time comes, they’d know who to turn to.
Another thing is the fact that patients have the absolute right to seek a second opinion. It’s crucial that a patient has the opportunity to explore all of the options available for their condition before coming to a decision.”