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"It is a joy to give"

The Singapore Health Quality Service Awards celebrates the brightest stars in healthcare who have delivered quality care and execellent service to patients. Chan Suk Ee Diana, a Patient Relations Associate Executive at the National Cancer Centre Singapore is a three-time winner of the award (Silver, Gold and Star) and this year, the ninth year of the ceremony, she's a Superstar finalist. We had a quick chat with Diana about her job and passion.

Q: Why did you decide to go into this industry?

Diana (D): I have always wanted to be in the service industry. I wanted to be a nurse but the nurse manager at that time rejected me due to a medical condition. She told me I won’t be able to carry patients in the long run so she rejected me. I went into teaching—I was teaching kindergarten children for 15 years, before calling it a day and came back to healthcare.

Q: What keeps you going in your role as a Patient Relations Associate Executive?

D: Initially I was very skeptical, because I am not a very sociable person. But I learned and picked up slowly. It’s a very enjoyable job. My job scope includes orientation with new patients, we walk them through their journey (at NCCS)—from taking queue number all the way to the chemo suite. As you go along, you can feel their vibes—whether they are frightened, any anxiety, and you assure them.

Q: What is your most memorable experience as a patient relations associate executive in NCCS?

D: There was this patient who was undergoing kidney dialysis. At that time, I did not notice her vein was already jutting out. She was very frightened and she asked me “do I have through go through needle poking again?” I replied yes, she will have to go through it again. She started to cry, as it was her first time undergoing through chemo, she was shivering. I talked to her for a long, long time, with her daughter by her side. I told her “you will get rid of your disease. If you are willing to do it (treatment), you can fight it. Just like your dialysis, you can overcome it”. I persuaded her to come for treatment and she did. I walked her through the process and sat with her in the chemo suite while waiting for the nurse. Subsequently, she came for all her treatment. On her last day of treatment, she hugged me and said “I have completed my journey!”

Q: How do you unwind and relax?

D: I am usually very tired after work. At home, I cook and do housework. After that, I do crotchet or knit. Or I read.

Q:What’s next for you?

D: I am in my late 50s, close to retirement! (laughs) I love my job, and will try to do it for as long as I can.