SPARC grant awardees - Meet Imjai from Thailand

Meet Imjai from Thailand
5 October 2016

Imjai Chitapanarux, 47 years old, is chair of Suandok Breast Cancer Network. This organisation was born in 2008 to a group of radiation oncologists, breast surgeons, medical oncologists and nurses of the Univerity of Chiang Mai, together with healthcare professionals from the upper Northern Thailand. 

What made you want to participate in the SPARC MBC challenge?

After the government support for the network ended in 2012, I started looking for alternative supports to continue my work in maintaining the network for the upper Northern part of Thailand. The SPARC MBC Challenge grant has enabled my team to not only maintain but also to expand the network. We have upgraded our online queuing request system to serve both early stage and metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. With the upgraded system together with our volunteer-driven MBC patient navigation programme, we aim at providing more timely access to the treatments for metastatic breast cancer patients by promoting early detection, reducing patients’ procrastination time to seek treatment, fast-tracking the referral process, and managing queuing requests for in radiotherapy treatment.

A piece of your project focuses on empowering MBC patients. In your opinion, why is this aspect so important?

While MBC patients are living longer, coping with the disease is not their only challenge. Other factors such as adverse effects from the treatments and anxiety brought about by uncertainty in the treatment outcome tend to weaken them physically and mentally. Empowerment is absolutely essential in encouraging the patients to deal with the metastatic disease and to live their lives to the fullest possible.  Our MBC patient navigation programme consists of local volunteers who visit our current and past patients.  Current patients receive encouragement and information pertaining to their ongoing treatment. Having been trained to recognize signs and symptoms of metastatic breast cancer as well as those of cancer recurrences, our volunteers visit and teach the patients how to recognize the signs and symptoms by themselves. The patients with relapses would be encouraged to seek treatment. Our volunteers also organise local activities to disseminate information and promote breast cancer awareness.

What do patients tell you when you engage them on the project? What do they think of the project?

Most patients have been satisfied with our MBC patient navigation programme and have positive thoughts toward our healthcare volunteers. They also have a better perception toward living their lives and coping with the disease.

What do you like the most about your work?

Being able to provide timely access to emergency radiotherapy treatment for MBC patients.

Can you please describe yourself in one word?


For more information about the SPARC initiative and related projects, please click here.

Last update: 
Friday 7 June 2019