GEORGE TOWN: The doctor closed her file and said she had two more years to live. That was 20 years ago.
Just by looking at her, you cannot tell that Lim Kim Wah, a bubbly 57-year-old housewife, is a cancer survivor.
But she is. And she is now a voluntary counsellor and inspiration to many cancer patients in Penang.
“When the doctor found out I had ovarian cancer in 1999, the tumour was the size of a baby’s head.
“I was prepped for surgery immediately,” she recalled, adding that the tumour ruptured right after the surgeon extracted it.
There were warning signs over a year earlier as Kim Wah kept feeling that something was wrong with her body, but doctors could not detect what it was.
“My stomach was always bloated. I felt full after eating just a few mouthfuls and my bowel movements were always runny.
“I knew something was wrong but 20 years ago, medical technology was not advanced enough,” she said.Kim Wah was stunned to learn that out of 100 ovarian cancer patients, only four would survive.
But she was not the sort to give up without a fight.
“I did my chemotherapy no matter how painful it was. I did whatever the doctor told me.
“I exercised daily and I ate well. I walloped good food! A lot of cancer patients become afraid to eat this and that after being diagnosed, but that is not good.
“You need to eat lots of good, healthy food,” she said.
To stress her point, Kim Wah said she went through four tins of quality milk powder a month, adding that she drank it regularly.
As for touted miracle cancer cures, she shook her head.
“Do your chemotherapy and exercise regularly. After that, take those supplements if you want but do everything your doctor tells you,” she said.
Kim Wah admitted that her fight was not over yet.
“I had a tumour in my liver taken out in 2006.
“I have stones and cysts in me now and my liver has another tumour,” she said.
“But I accept them as a part of my life and go for all my check-ups on time and take my medicines.”
Kim Wah now seeks out new friends who have just been diagnosed with cancer and helps them to cope with the life-changing event by sharing how she did it.
She was spotted yesterday celebrating Cancer Survivors Day – which falls on the first Sunday of June each year – with about 40 other cancer patients, nearly all in their 50s and 60s.
Organised by Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital, they played games in Macalister Mansion in Jalan Macalister and celebrated their success in fighting the disease.
The hospital’s chief executive officer, Joan Lim, urged the public to value early detection.
“Don’t wait till your children are grown up and it is time for you to travel and enjoy life only to find out you have late-stage cancer,” she stressed.
Joan said women should do yearly mammogram tests, pap smears and ultrasound sessions, while men should do full blood tests to check for liver, pancreas, colon and prostate cancers, among others.