CHOO Mei Sze, 32, never expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer after experiencing stomach aches and diarrhoea for several days five years ago.
She found out about her cancer, also known as colon cancer, after her father suggested she undergo screening for the disease.
“I remember crying and thinking this could not be possible,” Choo recalled.
She was, however, thankful to her mother and husband who took turns to stay with her in hospital while she received treatment.
“I don’t think I would have been as strong without their support.”
Choo’s experience highlights the urgent need for early cancer screening and for greater support by patients’ families.
To create such awareness, the Relay for Life Kuala Lumpur 2019 run is being organised by National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM).
The event aims to encourage participants to lead healthier lives and gather cancer survivors and their families to raise awareness about the dreaded disease.
The eight-hour run from 4pm to midnight on July 27 at Dataran Petaling Jaya is meant to symbolise that cancer never sleeps and that the fight against the disease should not stop, said NCSM honorary adviser Datuk Zuraidah Atan.
“A support system is fundamental to help cancer patients remain positive about their situation. Patients often feel lonely and isolated and it’s very important that family members provide the support to make the most of the situation.”
Zuraidah added that some cancer patients worry about the cost of treating the disease.
“Sometimes some patients have to quit their jobs because of the treatment, and the loss of a steady income can be hard to manage without adequate support from family.”
She encouraged patients to undergo screening and treatments at government hospitals if they could not afford private medical care.
“Few people know that they can be eligible to make withdrawals from their Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) account for cancer treatment.
There are many misconceptions about cancer because of low awareness levels.
“Children with cancer are bullied in schools and isolated from their peers because of the misconception that cancer is contagioius.
“Some patients even shrug off credible modern treatments in legitimate medical facilities and rely completely on alternative treatments.
“Cancer does not discriminate. It is a myth that only the elderly can get cancer but the truth is even youngsters are not safe.
“Early screening is crucial to ensure a higher chance of survival,” she added.
Participation fee is RM50 for individuals and RM450 for teams.
Participants will receive a T-shirt, entry wristband and a luminaria bag.
The first 500 to successfully complete the 5km run will receive medals.
Other activities include walking challenges, Zumbathons and a remembrance ceremony.
To register or for more information, call 03-2698 7300 or visit www.relayforlifemalaysia.com