Ken Khoo was 18 when he first parachuted from 2,500 feet. Then a student in the UK, he and a small group of friends (accompanied by two teachers) raised £5,000 ($8,961) to secure a guide dog for a visually impaired person. A year earlier, he and two friends covered the distance of a marathon on foot and bicycle in the dead of the English winter to raise funds for another cause.
Still very much active in philanthropic endeavours, the father of five now gravitates to comparatively more sedate, though no less hands-on, means of fundraising. This has included the organisation of charity golf tournaments, the most recent of which was for the Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF), which has been postponed to April 2021 due to the pandemic.
“All the [golf] flights have been sold out. That’s how wonderful and generous people are,” Khoo informs.
Breast Cancer Foundation An IPC, BCF is on a mission to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. Set up in 1997, it is committed to raising awareness about breast cancer through talks, events and publications that advocate early detection through regular screening. BCF also supports survivors and their families through various counselling and training activities. bcf.org.sg
Founded in 1997, BCF’s mission is to stamp out breast cancer as a life-threatening disease and support the diagnosed and their families through counselling and training activities. Called on by good friend and BCF president Staphnie Tang, Khoo has begun serving on one of the agency’s fundraising sub-committees.
While under 1 percent of all breast cancer diagnosis involve men, Khoo says he was compelled to step forward as men play a vital role in the disease.
Cancer can be a lonely journey, but you don’t have to go through it alone.”Ken Khoo
“Men are champions for their wives, mothers, partners, children or siblings in encouraging them to go for mammograms. At the same time, they’re the pillar of support and a companion when a loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Khoo. “That’s why at BCF, we always stress that breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease.”
“We’ve heard from many breast cancer warriors that they feel as if no one understands what they’re going through,” he continues. “Cancer can be a lonely journey, but you don’t have to go through it alone.”
For this reason, the agency runs a one-on-one Volunteer Befriending Programme and various support groups — including ones for caregivers and younger women — so women can benefit from interacting with those who have won the battle against cancer or are also undergoing treatment.
Breast cancer, he reminds us, is highly treatable with a 90-percent survival rate if diagnosed at stage 1.
“If you’re asking me what’s my wish for BCF, it’s for women to regularly go for check-ups. Because if they don’t, a breast cancer diagnosis may come too late. And if they do have it, please don’t clam up; seek advice and support.”
While breast cancer hasn’t hit those close to him, Khoo has lost friends to other cancers.
“All you can do is make it as normal as possible and make the most of the time they have by making good memories.”
According to the Singapore Cancer Registry, 15 people die of cancer every day and 1 in 4 people may develop cancer in their lifetime. This is why he advocates regular health examinations for both women and men. “Cancer is a killer. It can hit any part of your body.”
Corporate and public donations go a long way in enabling the work of BCF, other institutions of a public character (IPC) and other ground-up initiatives. While Khoo wholeheartedly appeals for generous donations, he also encourages donors to learn more about the charities they intend to support in light of the rise in online scams.
“Always know who you are giving to, and what you are giving for.”