960km solo walk to raise awareness on cancer

More than 100 people joined Mahendran (centre, with jacket) at the Bangsar LRT station before he began his last 7km to Dataran Merdeka on Sept 18, to complete the 960km walk throughout Peninsular Malaysia. — Photos: RICKY LAI/The Star

MAHENDRAN Suriyanarayanan completed an amazing solo walk on Sept 18 to help raise public awareness on cancer.

The 42-year-old from Sabak Bernam, Selangor started his walk in Bukit Kayu Hitam (BKH), Kedah on March 15 and walked 960km along Peninsular Malaysia.

From BKH, he went to Johor Baru before returning to Kuala Lumpur and completed his feat in seven months.

Mahendran said he was inspired to go on his solo journey after reading about two men who walked around the world for more than two years for a similar cause of raising awareness on cancer.

During the last 7km of his walk from the Bangsar LRT station to Dataran Merdeka, he was joined by more than 100 people who included actor Arja Leem, members of the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) and the public.

“For every step that cancer patients cannot make, I am walking for them.

“I am also inspired by my seven-year-old niece Kesma Vinayagi, who has a spine problem and has been unable to walk since birth.

“Whenever I go to the hospital to visit her, I also meet people caring for cancer patients,” said Mahendran, who is taking a break from his work in the music industry.

Every day, Mahendran would walk for up to 16 hours, carrying essentials items such as food, water, cameras and phones in a backpack that on some days would weigh up to 18kg.

“It can get incredibly hot. I have already had to replace three mobile phones and have worn out many pairs of shoes.

Mahendran (left) at the start of his walk from the Bangsar LRT station to Dataran Merdeka.
Mahendran (left) at the start of his walk from the Bangsar LRT station to Dataran Merdeka.

“Some mornings, I am so exhausted, I can barely get up, but I keep myself going by thinking about those affected by cancer.”

Rain or shine, Mahendran hardly stopped walking, except to visit cancer patients in hospitals.

“They are a great inspiration and the stories they shared – sometimes funny, sad or touching – would make me cry.

“Many have pledged to keep fighting and we have all formed a group on WhatsApp.

“I greet them every day, and we update each other on our individual journeys.

“NCSM has supported me throughout but this is the first time so many people have come together to join me in person.

“I feel really proud and happy to have received such a welcome,” he said.

Mahendran’s cancer awareness mission will not end here as he plans to embark on another solo walk in Sabah and Sarawak.

He plans to begin his journey in Sarawak in December and finish in Sabah.

Mahendran aims to raise RM20,000 for NCSM, which runs programmes to educate the public about cancer, provide cancer and health screening at subsidised rates as well as complimentary care and support programmes for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.

To donate, go to http://bit.ly/2cYqrld.

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