“I was 29 years old when I discovered a small lump on my breast. It wasn’t cancerous and was only considered a cyst. One and half years later, the lump grew in size and turned cancerous which prompted me to go in for an operation.
I was very upset about having breast cancer because I was young, single, and no one around me was experiencing anything like this. I felt like I had nowhere to turn and I was under a huge amount of work related stress. My parents didn’t react well to the news. To them, having cancer was a death sentence.
My biggest fear was going in for chemotherapy, as I was very afraid of losing all of my hair! To me, having long hair signified being a woman, and losing that meant losing a part of me. I researched extensively alongside my doctor for a different alternative. We found that patients with cancer derived from hormones could be treated with hormone therapy. At the time, hormone treatment therapy wasn't yet introduced as a common medical practice in Malaysia, but I told my doctor to let me be a guinea pig. I could save many lives if this was a success. The hormone therapy required an injection every 3 months for about two years, which went by quite successfully without any relapse.
Following my recovery, I moved to the UK for 2 and half years then returned to Malaysia for work. Unfortunately, my workload was terrible and the stress caused a relapse, which spread to my lungs.
I was much more positive facing my relapse because I was a member of the Pink Ribbon Foundation. I got to know many friends who had to endure the same challenges as I did and I wasn’t alone anymore. They were by my side the entire journey. From ringing me up to ask if I had breakfast, to accompanying me to get my medical readings done!
After being temporarily cured from my second bout of cancer, I unfortunately had another relapse, which affected my backbone. I couldn’t run away from chemotherapy anymore and opted for oral chemo, so I wouldn’t lose my hair. The doctor warned me of the side effects, which included blisters and sores that may prevent me from writing, driving, and worst, walking. This devastated me! I also love to dance and not being able to walk certainly also meant not being able to put my dancing shoes on.
But, I'm truly lucky. I did not experience any of the side effects, even when I was given a double dosage and an additional two months of prescription! I strongly felt that God was by my side. I prayed to Him every time before I consumed my medication.
I am still currently on my medication and I don’t know when I'll be able to come off of it. But I have vowed to live positively and as happily as I can every day. I’m determined to prove that having cancer is not a death sentence!” - Jenny
Joyce wearing the Anfisa Dress.
“5 years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Upon receiving the news, I wasted no time and rang up my church members to ask them to pray for me and for my operation to go smoothly.
I did not shed a single tear when the doctor gave me the news, and she was surprised. My mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer many years ago. This prepared me for what was coming physically and emotionally. I had gone through the journey with her, and I even accompanied her to all of her treatments. My mother survived breast cancer, but after 10 years she had a relapse that spread to her neck and it took her life.
I am not completely convinced that my cancer was genetic because neither my mother’s nor my father’s family have a history of cancer. The best reason I could give myself for my own cancer was the grief and depression that came with my mother’s death. I missed her dearly and my health deteriorated significantly with her passing. In addition to that I spent all of my time at work from morning to late night and suffered work related stress.
I told myself that I had to be strong when it came to battling cancer. I have a family and two daughters who I want to watch grow up, graduate, tie the knot and so on. After the operation, I went for radiotherapy sessions and quickly recovered.
However, it wasn’t long before I found out that there was a 6.5 cm cyst in my right ovary through CT scans. I decided to have a hysterectomy done to remove my ovaries, uterus, and cervix.
I cope with the constant challenges thrown at me by keeping myself busy, and I am also an active member of the Pink Ribbon Wellness Foundation. It provided me with comfort and support from amazing friends to make me realize that I wasn’t alone. There are so many activities and events organized to keep me socially busy, such as camps, dances, and symposiums!
I have been cancer free for 5 years now and I thank God every day for blessing me with so many more days to live!”- Joyce