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A Granddaughter’s Love for her ‘Ahma’ 

          The loss of a loved one is a natural, universally experienced life event and at the same time, among life’s most challenging experiences. Even though sometimes we’re not close to them or knew it was fate, it doesn’t make it any easier or less hurtful in saying goodbye. Losing someone to cancer, however, is a different story altogether.

In addition to the painful experience, family members were also left with traumatic emotional wounds as they watched their family or friends deteriorate before their very eyes. Imagine seeing the person you care about most who is usually in a happy and healthy condition slowly regressing into a vegetative state.

2-year-old Melannie with her Ahma during a wedding dinner

         For Melannie Yeo, she did not have to visualize it as she went through it herself when she lost her dearest Grandmother, Mdm Chee Mee Keng (Ahma) back in April to a very rare type of cancer called undifferentiated Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma.

Currently residing in Singapore with her husband and two kids, she kept in touch with her family in Malaysia by contacting them daily to get an update on her grandmother. Through constant online communication, Melannie witnessed how her grandmother slowly faded as she shriveled and weakened by the day.

          “Since the Covid pandemic hit us in 2019, I didn’t get the chance to return to Malaysia as the borders were closed. The best way to keep in touch was via text and video calls. I still remember the day when my Dad told me the devastating news about Ahma’s cancer. My heart dropped and I couldn’t stop worrying since.

I prayed day and night that I get to see her one last time, and I did. The moment Singapore-Malaysia re-opened the borders, I quickly planned my trip to Malacca.  I will never forget that feeling when I stepped into her room at 4 am and saw her on the brink of death, gasping for air even with the oxygen mask on, clinging as hard as she could because she was not ready to leave,” Melannie shared.

Wefie with Ahma at Melannie’s cousin’s wedding.

Following Ahma’s demise, Melannie was determined to do something to honor her late Grandmother. Initially, she wanted to raise funds for a Singaporean society or charitable home but somehow it didn’t feel quite right and close to her heart.

Since her late Grandmother was born and lived in Malacca her entire life, it was only logical to carry out any activities or awareness in her homeland. After a few weeks of Googling, Melannie came across Cancer Research Malaysia (CRMY). As she was reading about our background and vision, she found our mission relatable to her life approach.

          “Every time there is an issue at home or at work, I always ask what is the main cause? I strongly believe that if you want to solve any problem, you must get to the root of it. Because if you only solve it on the surface, the problems will remain there and trouble will find its way back. Similar to cancer, which is why CRMY’s work in research is relevant as they are finding new ways not only to prevent and cure cancer, but also to facilitate early detection. I find that of paramount importance,” said Melannie.

          She highlighted that even though it’s important to donate to cancer patients who are already affected by the disease, donating to cancer research itself is equally meaningful. The only difference is that the latter requires more time and faith as the results are not as direct and immediate.

Ahma with her first great-grandson, Anders.

Even though it will take years maybe decades to find a cure for cancer but once they have it, imagine the number of lives they get to save in the future. No more pain and suffering where we can live our very best life without worrying about winning any battles. This is something we should all look forward to.

          Thanks to Melannie, she has raised over RM25,000 in the span of 62 days for CRMY through SimplyGiving website. Like everything else in life, every difficult journey always has a great purpose and it all begins with one step. When Melannie first started her fundraising activity, she faced multiple obstacles as people were skeptical and thought it was a scam.

Nevertheless, she persevered and continued to share her cause with her family, friends and on social media. She kept trying and reaching out to every one of her contacts. From then on, the numbers slowly started coming in.

         “To me, it’s not just about raising funds but it’s also about awareness and education. It’s crucial for the public to know that there is an organisation in Malaysia that focuses on conducting research on Cancers that are common among Asians such as oral and nasopharyngeal cancer.

Hence, a different kind of treatment is needed because what works for Westerners might not work for Asians as we are genetically different. This is the kind of information I would want to share with everyone. It’s not only educational but also an eye opener for those who are unaware of the big C,” said Melannie.         

From her fundraising experience, she realised how much society has desensitised themselves when it comes to donating via an online platform unless the seeker is someone they know. Despite the multiple broadcasting of her cause across all various social platforms, her list of donors predominantly comprised of people whom she had contacted personally.

          Melannie hopes that her grandmother’s story on SimplyGiving will aspire everyone who reads it to lend a helping hand without any fear to those who are going through difficult times. We should never underestimate the small gesture of kindness as it may have the potential to change someone’s life for the better.

Support Cancer Research Malaysia and help us save more lives through impactful research in Asians. 

On the Donation page, under Step 3 > How did you hear about us? Please select ‘Blogpost’ from the dropdown options.


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