“I had my first cancer when I was 10 years old. It was bone cancer on my left leg’s femur bone. I did chemotherapy and surgeries – and I survived, I am ok. I have metal plates inside my leg, as cancer eats your bones, the bones have to be scrapped away. When I was 12 years old, cancer spread to both of my lungs – a recurrence. It was at the terminal stage (stage 4), it was quite serious. There was 2.6 litres of water in my lungs, and a lot of tumours, about 9-10cm nodules. I relapsed. I also survived. I did chemotherapy and surgery again. They operated both of my lungs and removed the modules and minimized the tumours.
When I was 13 years old the metal plate in my left leg broke, and I needed to get it amputated. It wasn’t actually an amputation, its where they take my left leg and folded it into my thigh. But my body cells rejected the new organ, and it was swelling and bleeding non-stop and I was in a critical condition.
The doctor asked my mom if I wanted to amputate it and I immediately said just do it, and do it fast because it was very painful and swollen. This was the most painful moment of my life. I couldn’t sleep.
3 days later, I got the amputation. And when I woke up, the first thing I wanted to do was call my friends and tell them that I don’t have a leg anymore! I know, to me it was funny.
When I was having my cancers, my family was very positive and they didn’t make me feel down – in fact, they made it feel as though I was just having a fever.
And since I survived the first time, I was confident that I will survive the second one. Friends and strangers were supportive, and even my primary school did a fundraising campaign and help write to the media.
During the fundraising campaign, my mom told me of this very old lady, who had a picnic basket, and we thought she was going to the pasar (wet market). But then she explained that it contained money for my operation.
I missed school as I was in bed the whole time. Previously I was in Taekwondo since I was 6 years old and I am a black belt. I was very much into Taekwando and won the bronze medal at the state championships.
My friends didn’t discriminate me as well. At Standard 5, on my first day of school, the teacher asked the class, who wants to help her? I was on a wheelchair and was bald due to my chemotherapy session – and everyone in class raised up their hands.
It is amazing how there are people who don’t know me, but they are willing to help me.
Also, I find it interesting that, it is the older people who say that I am beautiful, but they say that I should also wear long pants or a long dress. I myself have no fear wearing anything I want.
I hope to inspire others to appreciate everything around you and not give up easily. At least you try, and move forward.
I always tell people, think of your abilities rather than your disability. It’s better to go slower than not moving forward at all or overexerting yourself and becoming worse. So take care of yourself.
Everyday is my happiest moment – because I am alive. Now I appreciate my life. I don’t want to give up”.
Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa