The Utilisation of Traditional Medicine among Young Malay Breast Cancer Patients
This is a qualitative study examining the utilisation pattern of traditional medicine among young Malay women breast cancer patients. The study has shown that there is an increasing number of breast cancer patients to opt for traditional medicine in searching for a cure. To address the issue, an ethnographic fieldwork was carried out in Klang Valley and several selected areas of Selangor. Thirteen (13) young Malay breast cancer patients were selected as informants for this study by employing purposive snowballing technique. Guided by semi-structured interview schedule, a series of in-depth interviews, phone and online interviews and participant observation were conducted at various settings to capture informants’ health seeking behaviour. It is evident that traditional medicine is still prevalent as one of the treatment options among breast cancer patients. They strongly believed that relying on a single treatment for chronic illness like breast cancer is insufficient. In relation to this, traditional healers and health practitioners such as bomoh and ustaz were consulted by Malay informants either as an alternative or complementary for a cure. Several treatment methods such as herbal remedies for oral consumption, air penawar (healing water) for drinking and bathing and specific item such as an egg for surgery-like procedure were prescribed to treat the cancer-related symptoms suffered. In most instances, majority of the patients were guided by family and friends’ suggestions towards the utilisation of traditional medicine.
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