“We Are More Than What You Imagine”
To kick-start the iconic cancer awareness and fundraiser campaign, Go Bald 2017, we share two incredible stories of Hafiz, 19, and Razie, 25, who have beaten the odds of child cancer and made it through to become masters of their future.
Hafiz was diagnosed with leukaemia at the tender age of three and being just a toddler he recalls no memory of the general experience but does remember the pain.
“I still remember when the nurse tried to insert the needle into my collapsed vein. If it wasn’t my arm, it would be my leg.”
But if anything were to hurt, it would be the bone marrow extraction – a necessary procedure to review the progress of the cancer treatment.
“Would you believe that it took two nurses and two doctors to hold me because it was that terrifying and painful?” He said.
Extraction is physically agonising for adult patients, therefore imagine how strong a child has to be. Other than this, he also remembered the emotional instability during the course of his chemotherapy. “With all the drugs entering your body, your moods can go from 0 to 100. When I cry to my parents, they don’t even know what to do. It was tough.”
Hafiz spent three years battling leukaemia and has been cancer-free since the age of six with a true appreciation for his family. He has chosen to help out with his family’s catering business, and added “it is my way of giving back to them [my family] because of what they went through”.
The pillar of strength for child cancer patients will always be their families, who stay strong despite the heartache. Go Bald aims to raise awareness on child cancer and its implications on both the patient and family, thus raising funds to build halfway homes that provide food and transport for outstation patients in Kuching and Miri. Also, funds provide financial support for medical procedures, Medical equipment n consumables not provided by Sarawak General Hospital, as well as financial aid for needy families.
Here is a young man who was not supposed to turn eleven.
Razie was nine years old when he had flu, fever and an unusual growth. His family, believing it was nothing, only sent him to the clinic on the fourth day.
“The doctor was so mad that I wasn’t taken to the clinic earlier, especially since there was a lump on the right side of my neck”.
He was referred to the hospital and had surgery to remove the growth for biopsy, and what came next was truly unexpected. Razie was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and it was news that the family could not accept. He was transferred to Sarawak General Hospital where he began his treatment of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He told us the same story as Hafiz did and spoke of how the treatment affected him;
“When I lost my hair, I felt so embarrassed. Even when the other kids in kampung played with me, they’d accidentally pull my hair and chunks of hair would fall. I didn’t feel normal.”
Most of us would assume that when anyone has stage three cancer, the chances of survival is much lower. The doctors had given Razie just six months to live and that was when his family started counting down on the calendar, to the moment they would have had to let their son go. The sixth month was approaching fast and reality was hitting them, but doctors told something astonishing to his family– he was, in fact, getting better.
“Maybe it was because we kept praying. We really don’t know” he chuckled.
Just like any other boy, he aspired to become a state-level athlete but here is another side of his story which makes us question “are we too protective of cancer survivors?”
“My school was so worried about my state of health even though I was cancer-free for many years. They thought that sporting activities would weaken me. I was absolutely fine.”
There are always concerns of whether a cancer survivor should have the energetic and wholesome life as anyone else who is physically fit and healthy to perform. Perhaps another angle of wondering how capable a survivor is to live to the fullest is to realise that they have fought for their life, even when they have felt that it was impossible. Child cancer survivors like Hafiz are stronger than we think, knowing that he had beaten the odds of survival.
After asking him about Go Bald and why everyone should be part of this cause, his answer will make you understand. “Supporting Go Bald allows us to have centres like these [SCCS]. It is home away from home. Most people do not know what it feels like to be affected by cancer, and Go Bald creates that awareness. Plus kids will feel like losing hair isn’t such a bad thing.”
This young man fought the ultimate battle that some say he would not win, and now he helps with his family-run food business in Kuching and volunteers at the SCCS Youth Camp, intending to inspire and motivate others who have gone through a similar journey as he did.