Viet Nam News
Nguyễn Thủy Tiên, 30, is co-founder and executive director of the Breast Cancer Network Vietnam (BCNV), a pioneering organisation that supports breast cancer patients and promotes early detection of cancer through regular screening. Tiên, who was on Forbes 30 Under 30 List in 2016, was awarded the ASEAN Youth Award in 2016, which highlights the contributions of young people to the region. This year, Tiên received an Australian Award Scholarship in international development and management. San Hà talks to her about BCNV’s initiatives.
Inner Sanctum: What is the mission of the Breast Cancer Network Vietnam?
BCNV, which is a member of the Union for International Cancer Control, was founded by my sister Nguyễn Khánh Thương in 2013. She died at the age of 32 after a three-year battle with breast cancer. She set up the network to connect breast cancer patients nationwide and ensure that women affected by breast cancer receive support, information, treatment and care. She inspired millions of breast cancer patients with her activities while she was battling the disease.
I quit my job as a personal assistant to work for the network five years ago. After my sister passed away, I continued to operate the network to fulfill my sister’s unfinished journey. I hope to keep my love for my sister alive forever.
Over the past five years, BCNV has implemented various projects nationwide, including the annual pink hat campaign, wig bank, breast prosthesis bank, yoga classes, rehabilitation exercises, and makeup and beauty classes.
The network has attracted about 5,000 volunteers and 1,000 cancer patients who take part in various activities at home and abroad.
Inner Sanctum: Did you shave your head for cancer support?
I shaved my head four years ago just because I like to go bald. I did not intend to go bald for cancer solidarity. At first, I was worried that a bald woman was not attractive and beautiful and that it would make it difficult to find a boyfriend. But it turned out that I looked beautiful with a shaved head, as my friends told me.
Inner Sanctum: How important is early detection of breast cancer?
Early detection of breast cancer is truly important as it is associated with effective treatment, increased survival, and reduced physical and mental damage, as well as reduced treatment costs. However, many women have not survived because their breast cancer was detected too late.
BCNV has partnered with enterprises and hospitals to promote breast cancer screening campaigns. Every year, BCNV organises a series of activities held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October to promote early detection and regular screening in the community.
Inner Sanctum: Sống lần thứ hai (Live a Second Time) is your autobiography featuring extracts of your sister’s memories when she had cancer. What is the message of the book?
Always keep a positive attitude in adversity. I want to send this message to young people who think they have a lot of time to do what they want in life and who hesitate pursuing their dreams or who don’t dare live the life they dream of.
With the mission of BCNV, I can find true happiness and lead a meaningful life.
Inner Sanctum: Earlier this year, you received an Australian Award Scholarship in international development and management. Why did you choose to pursue a master’s degree in Australia?
The scholarship awarded by the Australian Government was what I desired most. I wanted to enrich my knowledge and skills, which will help the development of BCNV in the future. When I had a chance to work with international organisations, I realised that I really lacked professional knowledge and skills. I really hope that BCNV can further develop as a social enterprise with a clear mission and long-term operational capacity.
Inner Sanctum: What are your future plans?
I hope to finish the scholarship programme with excellent results and promote the operation of the network globally. Recently, I have been engaged in cancer support activities in Australia. In the future, BCNV will also provide healthcare services in the field of breast cancer in Việt Nam. - VNS