First published as “Survival Always Possible” in Malay Mail June 6 2015
I WAS AMAZED WHEN I walked into the party room at Jen Hotel, Penang. Reminisces of the tea dances of the 50s and 60s came to mind of youths of that era who while away their afternoon with good friends dancing to lively music.
The theme was a catchy Back to 50s!
It was impossible to think that the roomful of men and women all dressed up in party gear were cancer survivors!
They came from all backgrounds in life, some retired, others still working in the prime of their lives. They played important roles in their family as mothers, fathers and children.
They were all laughing, posing for selfies and wefies with their bosom friends; other survivors, their doctors and nurses who have become an extended family.
The ladies survivors clearly have become good loving friends with the debonair Dr Rakesh Raman, the Consultant Oncologist and Radiotherapist who was very sporting and played party games with the group.
Wendy Ng, 29 a pharmacist at Mount Miriam shared,” Working in a cancer hospital is a humbling experience. I see young school-going children waiting bravely as their parents undergo their treatment. Every day is a new learning experience.”
Margaret Chee, 74 is a lively social butterfly who was going from table to table with a ready smile and a kind word for everyone. She mentioned her cancer almost in passing.
“I found out during self-examination of my breasts. Had a mastectomy, 12 jabs of chemo and 25 sessions of radiotherapy. I’ve survived 24 years. Okay la, finish interview, ya?” And she smiled cheerily, with a quick wave, ran off to join her friends as the DJ played her favourite number.
Cancer is a disease, it is debilitating but with early detection, a positive attitude and patient support, these survivors show us that SURVIVAL is possible. The will to live in them is stronger than their disease.
Mount Miriam Hospital at Jalan Bulan, Penang is run by the sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) who reach out to care for the poor, sick and dying.