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  arrow Cancer Survivorship

 

Elizabeth's experience:

14 November 2007

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. I discovered the lump during a routine breast examination. No one else in my family has cancer, but when I found the lump I immediately suspected something was wrong, because I had just had a mammogram 8 months earlier, which was clear.

When I was diagnosed, I was already classified as a Stage 3, which shows just how fast the cancer grew. My doctor prescribed aggressive treatment, with a radical mastectomy followed by 12 chemotherapy and 30 radiotherapy sessions!

He said it was one of the most aggressive courses he had recommended.

My family were shocked, and sad. But it made me reflect. Having been a single mother since the age of 33, I had worked very hard to own a home and a good life. I decided I was not going to give it up. I wanted to fight, and I believed that there was a reason why I had been chosen to go through this.

Treatment took over a year, and at the end of it I decided not to go back to work. Instead I found myself invited to help a nun in Cameron Highlands who worked with the Orang Asli community there. I am one of six people, all averaging 60 years of age, who help to educate and care for the Orang Asli.

My contribution to the group is in the form of fundraising - I traded in my car and got a 4-wheel drive so I could transport second-hand items up to Camerons to be sold in the shop we run. The funds are used to help the community - 12 Orang Asli children are being educated in Penang at missionary schools, and we help provide medical advice as two of our members are doctors.

This is what keeps me going. I was a city girl, but now I stay in Camerons to help these people because there is no one else to do it. People who know I am a breast cancer survivor sometimes come to me for advice and counselling - I tell them cancer is not about death. Look at me! I'm 64 and I drive a 4-wheel drive from KL to Camerons.

I am stronger and more active now. I'm doing work that helps people, and knowing that I am doing something worthwhile keeps me going.

But the most important thing is to have faith - in God, in your doctor and in yourself. Always have hope and keep charity in your heart.

Elizabeth Choy Walker
 


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