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Cancer & Life


In the past 45 years I have been working in palm oil plantation as a contractor worker. As a worker in an estate, I apply fertilize to the oil palm trees, spray pesticides and crop the oil palm fruits. I am a 60 years old married man living with my wife since my three children who have grown up and started working. One day, I coughed up blood. I was diagnosed with lung cancer.

What is cancer?

When the doctor told me, “You have been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer”, I felt like it was the end of my life. I was afraid of dying. I do not understand cancer. However my wife did not giving hope. She tried to battle the cancer along with me. Hence, she started to search for an information about it from internet, articles, friends and relatives even from other cancer patients in order to keep my hopes up. These are the following that she found out initially:

  1. Cancer is an abnormal cell. As cancer cells they form into tumours.
  2. Abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably, invade and destroy surrounding body tissue are malignant.
  3. Benign tumours may be large but do not spread or invade into other tissues.
  4. A total number of 103,507 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Malaysia during the period of 2007 to 2011 where 45.2% were reported in males and 54.8% in females.
  5. According to age standardised incidence rates (ASR):
    1. Malay males were 70.7 per 100,000 population and females were 81.9 per 100,000 population.
    2. Chinese males were 112.9 per 100,000 population while in females were 126.2 per 100,000 population.
    3. Indian males were 70.4 per 100,000 population and females were 110.1 per 100,000 population.
  6. The common cancers for Malaysian males are colorectal, lung, nasopharynx, lymphoma and prostate.
  7. The common cancers for Malaysian females are breast, colorectal, cervix uteri, ovary and lung.
  8. There are treatments for cancer!

With a better knowledge of cancer, my hope rose. Being a cancer victim doesn’t mean I lose my battle of life. It is the beginning of my battle with cancer.

Factors and awareness

My wife and I were curious about the origin that caused my lung cancer. I am not a smoker. So we decided to ask the doctor during my next consultation. The doctor explained to us gladly as working in polluted air, living in a house ceiling was made from asbestos could have been contributing towards the cause. I was shocked. The hazards I always take so lightly could be the contributing towards the cause of my cancer. Hence, being a newly diagnosed with cancer we would like my treatments started as soon as possible. My time which was on treatment was spent on researching ways to combat cancer. My wife started to cook a healthier diet for me and my family. We cut down on processed food, fast food and foods with high sugar content.

Treatment and Diagnosis

When I started my treatments, I would feel the burden that my family carried as I was not covered by insurance. I had surgery to remove the lung tumour and investigation to assess the extent of the disease and progress such as, positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) scans to evaluate the cancer progression before and every few months after my surgery and even X-rays to check on my lung until they are sure I am free from complications. These medical expenses were high since I was treated in a private medical institution.

We tried out other alternative treatments our friends and relatives suggested to us since we are desperate for a cure; we tried Sabah Snake Grass, supplements, Porcupine Bezoars and I changed a vegetarian diet. Many of these alternative treatments did not help but used up our savings.

I felt guilty about burdening my family especially when I developed disease. I had to go for another surgery. I felt hopeless as I was not able to contribute to my family like I used to before. Soon I lost hope to fight the cancer. However, my children continued to provide me with support and told me that I wasn’t a burden; and that I was an important person in their lives. Relatives and friends came to visit from time to time giving support and providing positive encouragement. Hence, I got back up to continue my battle with cancer together with my family. The second surgery went well and I continued with my Chemotherapy. It was not easy to go through the Chemotherapy treatment. I had to deal with constipation, burning sensation in the mouth and exhaustion. As I fear needles and the sight of blood, going for this treatment was difficult for me but I was able to go through them with my family support and love.


After a year of battling with cancer I had understood cancer even more that I have learned to appreciate life:

  1. As a patient, I need to cooperate with doctors and understand our sickness.
  2. I felt that the burden that I underwent would be less if I was covered by insurance.
  3. Battling cancer is a long journey.
  4. Strong mental and emotional support from family and loved ones is needed. Being positive and having rest was beneficial and had helped me in the journey
  5. I am happy that in Malaysia it is possible for treatment be received in government or private facilities.
  6. A healthy lifestyle is beneficial for wellbeing.
  7. If one is working, having a superior who understands the condition is helpful.

I am now able to cope with cancer since I am more mentally and emotionally ready.


Cancer is a common disease. Patients with cancer need mental and emotional support from people around them. Battle with cancer is a long journey. Hence, stamina and sufficient funds are needed. Being cooperative with doctors will facilitate with cancer treatments. Cancer does not affect only the patients but also affects the people close to them.


  1. National Cancer Institute: What is Cancer? http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/what-is-cancer
  2. Malaysian Oncology Society (2004-2012) www.malaysianoncology.org/
  3. Medical News Today: Cancer Facts, Causes, Symptoms and Research http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/cancer-oncology
  4. Cancer Net (2005-2016) http://www.cancer.net/
  5. Insitut Kanser Negara: Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report (2007 – 2011) http://nci.moh.gov.my/index.php/ms/main-menu-2/laporan
Last Reviewed : 15 March 2017
Writer : Ng Wei Ling
Accreditor : Yusnira bt. Yusoff