FORMER deputy minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun is fighting a different battle these days after leaving politics – a battle with cancer.
“I was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer last December during a mammogram. I sought treatment at a private hospital before switching to University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) in Kuala Lumpur due to financial concerns,” said Chew.
“As a pensioner, I am entitled to subsidised treatments and some government benefits at UMMC but I still have to pay for certain medication such as adjuvant therapy (treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will return).”
The former deputy Women, Family and Community Development minister said her treatments, which started this January and scheduled to be completed next February, included radiotherapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
She is grateful for the services rendered by the medical team at UMMC, particularly breast surgeon Assoc Prof Dr See Mee Hoong and oncologist Prof Dr Ho Gwo Fuang.
“Not many people knew about my condition as I didn’t publicly announce it. Some did suspect as my hair started falling after chemotherapy sessions,” said the 57-year-old.
“The hardest part was informing my mother, who is in her 80s, that I had breast cancer.
“My father passed away in 2018 due to a heart attack and my sister died two years later due to colon cancer. She didn’t inform our mother about her condition until one month before her passing.”
To break the news to her mother, Chew roped in a relative who was a breast cancer survivor, partly to send the message that there was still hope.
“Part of my motivation to live and fight is so my family doesn’t worry. I promised to continue taking care of my mum and having dinner with her at my brother’s house,” said Chew, who lives in the same neighbourhood as her brother in Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam.
Nowadays, Chew tries to lead a stress-free life as much as possible.
“It’s important to have a positive outlook. I exercise as often as possible. I do qi gong, stretching or gardening and go for walks.”
She is grateful for the support of friends, including close friend Saw Yee Fung who takes Chew for her treatments when she is too weak to go on her own.
Chew, who resigned as MCA secretary-general in July 2019 to pursue a doctorate at Peking University in China, has resumed research for her thesis on Malaysian history at the National Archives.
“I came back to Malaysia for Chinese New Year in January 2020 but was unable to return to Beijing due to the lockdown in China.
“I have been doing my field work and research here including interviewing local experts. I plan to return to Beijing to continue my studies after I get the all-clear from my doctors.”
Chew said her latest role was as ambassador for a fundraising campaign to help B40 breast cancer patients, with Dr See serving as adviser.
“MH-Bifrost Run 2022: Run Against Breast Cancer” is a 5km night fun run by Universiti Malaya students to benefit UMMC’s Breast Cancer Resource Centre,” she said.
“If breast cancer is detected and treated early, the chances of survival are high but a diagnosis test costs about RM3,000 which the B40 women are unable to afford.
“As someone who is fully aware of the high costs of treatment, I empathise with what other cancer patients have to go through.”
The run will be held on Oct 29 at UM Arena Stadium; flag-off is at 8pm. For details, visit https://linktr.ee/bifrostrun2022
Donations can also be channelled to the centre via “Bendahari Universiti Malaya” CIMB Bank account 8001279998, reference: Tabung Amanah Kanser Payudara UM (W191490) BR.