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How Cancer Inspired A Dancer

Oftentimes, people stay fit to stay healthy. Some even stay fit out of pure vanity. Why not, right? Because everyone has their own reason. But how many people stay fit to prepare themselves when they fall ill.? Let’s admit it. Most of us don’t think that far ahead because we never thought about falling sick and what to do then. Fortunately for 63-year-old Mrs Y**, her choices of a healthy lifestyle paid off as they helped her go through a turbulent ride in her battle with cancer.

   “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 after a yoga injury. While I was recovering and resting at home, I performed a self-examination. That is when I discovered an unusual swelling around my breast. After I did a biopsy and diagnosis, the doctor said that I had triple-negative breast cancer. It was horrendous because apparently, it differs from other types of invasive breast cancer as it tends to grow, spread faster, has fewer regimen options and leans to have a worse outcome. So, when the doctor break that news to me, I wasn’t sure how to react. I remember feeling numb, scared and worried at the same time because I was trying to process the situation. In the end, I had to go through the trifactor treatment; remove the lump, 6 x of chemotherapy and 23 x of radiotherapy,” said the cancer fighter.

   The above therapies can take a toll on any cancer patient as they have to go through various side effects such as hair loss, pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and frailty just to name a few. It requires physical AND mental strength to fight cancer. You need to have some physical strength to improve your life quality and cope with the side effects of cancer treatment while your mental health help manages your emotions in battling this disease on multiple levels; the treatment, the fear, the uncertainty and the physical symptoms.

   “There are 4 ways for you to take care of yourself. First and foremost, exercise. Second, maintain your fitness level. Third, have a healthy or balanced diet. Last but not least, manage your stress. I believe that if you get all these in check, you can face any challenges in life. Even cancer,” she said adding that having physical and mental stamina helped her deal with cancer without fear. In fact, it taught her how to stay calm and manage any shortcomings that come her way.

   Now, it’s been over 10 years since she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of dwelling on self-pity or asking “why me”, she accepted her fate and vowed to help others who are walking a similar path. Mrs Y** played her part and was part of Candy Girls, a dance group that is believed to be the first of its kind in Malaysia to use dance as a form of therapy.

Breast cancer fighters enjoying their dance therapy. Credit: UMMC Candy Girls Support Group

   Initially, the group was set up as research to identify which type of exercise is better for breast cancer survivors. They had so much fun working out together and formed a friendship through their passion for dancing. Despite the bond, she reminded everyone in her group to not overdo it and let other people’s priorities come before them. Because you can only help others when you can help yourself. Even though they have a steady support system among cancer survivors, patients and advocates, Mrs Y** reminded us to never neglect nor forget the scientists and their ongoing research in finding cures for cancers.

Our CRMY scientists working in the laboratory

   “There are plenty of other NGOs out there and it’s completely fine to support them. However, Cancer Research Malaysia (CRMY) is the only NGO in the country that does cancer research and is supported by the government and hospitals. I believe CRMY plays a crucial role in finding a cure or even compiling all the data on the types of cancer and how you can use the patients data to come up with a treatment that will work effectively for Asians, especially Malaysians. It’s an ongoing battle and a lot of hard work by the scientists who spend their time day and night in the lab,” said Mrs Y**.

   Aside from that, she gives a friendly reminder to always pay attention to your body and health. As we all know and heard time and time again, early detection and prevention are always the keys. If you’d like something more comprehensive, consult your healthcare professional for a health screening or genetic test to know more about yourself. Eliminate any fear you have and do not be afraid of the results. No matter what the outcome is, remember to keep your head high, keep your chin up and keep your heart strong because you matter and you are loved. Look ahead and focus on what can be.

We are still working day and night to find a cure for cancer. It takes more than a village to find the solution, it also requires patience, talent, effort, time and energy. Every cent counts and it helps with our ongoing cancer research.

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