Hearing Datuk Lee Chong Wei speak about his cancer remission was great news but also brought back memories.
Eighteen years ago, my wife went through something similar and it scared the life out of us but we, too, had a happy ending.
It is great the badminton legend has been given the all-clear after undergoing treatment in Taiwan for early-stage nose cancer.
Lee admitted he was lucky as he was diagnosed early and is still young, fit and had good family support.
That and his great fighting spirit helped him beat the deadly disease.
Not many are so fortunate.
Lee can be the new ‘cancer hero’, even more if he does return to the badminton court next year – as is the plan.
He can and should be speaking up over his cancer fight to explain to other patients that they too, can look forward to a better life. That cancer is not the be-all and end-all. That fighting and never giving up hope is a big factor in surviving.
As Lee spoke about his tears and struggle after hearing the news and how painful it was during his treatment, I could relate.
“I am lucky I had support from my family, fans doctors. They never let me give up,” recalled Lee.
“There were times I could not eat due to the side-effects of the treatment (proton therapy) but I listened to my doctors and forced myself to gulp down the food.
“My wife (Datin Wong Mew Choo) had tears in her eyes while feeding me at times but we were determined to beat cancer.”
Lee lost only 5kg during his treatment and has since put on 3kg and joked “I think I only lost my muscles but I can build them up again.”
After 33 sessions of proton therapy which left burn marks on his neck, Lee is cancer-free although he still has to go for regular check-ups.
As mentioned earlier, my wife too, survived cancer after being diagnosed with Hodgkin disease while we were dating.
She had to undergo chemotherapy and radio radiotherapy and lost her hair – although that did not stop her from appearing on Roda Impian once her treatment was over!
It was a painful year for her.
She, too, was told she had to eat but as those who have undergone treatment for cancer will tell you, nothing tastes good and the first instinct is to throw up whatever goes in.
Being the fighter that she is, she not only managed to eat but surprised the doctors by actually putting on weight!
But it was not easy and we were lucky she is not the type to give up easily and that was key to her recovery.
We were even told there was a high possibility we could not have children but we have been blessed with two.
She is probably, nah, most definitely, stronger than me and last year climbed Mount Kinabalu and regularly takes part in runs and obstacle courses such as the Viper Race.
Although I started by talking about our badminton hero, I have ended with my hero.
But the message is clear, no matter what or who you are, never give up and always stay positive.