MICHELLE’S STORY

For Michelle, sharing her story was one of the hardest things she had to do. But afterwards, she regretted not doing it sooner.

MICHELLE’S STORY

For Michelle, sharing her story was one of the hardest things she had to do. But afterwards, she regretted not doing it sooner.

I kept asking myself: why me? This didn’t happen to people who lead an active life and exercise regularly, right?

“When I was just 34, I was told I had cervical cancer. I remember the day I was diagnosed clearly. I was at a routine visit to my gynaecologist because my husband and I were hoping to have a second child. It was there I found out I had tumour in my cervix area that could potentially be cancerous. I was stunned. I didn’t even tell my husband at first. I only told him the night before the results came back. I remember he was so calm and stayed up all night researching possible next steps. The next day, my gynaecologist gently explained that there was a large cancerous tumour in my cervix area and removing my uterus was my only option. I felt my life flash in front of me – it was as if all my dreams had died in a second. I would no longer be able to have another child. I had a week to prepare for the operation. I kept asking myself: why me? This didn’t happen to people who lead an active life and exercise regularly, right? I never ever thought I would be diagnosed with cancer. That’s probably why every time I was due for a Pap smear, I would make excuses - too much work, the pressures of being a wife and mother, etc. Just a week after the operation, I found out that my cancer had spread. I was referred to an oncologist who advised me to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. I had six cycles of chemotherapy and 25 sessions of internal and external radiotherapy in total. The side effects were horrible – it was truly of the most awful experiences in my life. Emotionally, I was a mess and felt like I was at the bottom of a pit. Although I had my family’s support, somehow it wasn’t enough because they didn’t quite understand my pain. My biggest struggle was accepting the fact I had cancer in the first place. My husband was very careful when speaking with me. My son was getting clingier and wanted attention. I knew I had to do something. Slowly, I began to look for support. I did a lot of research on cervical cancer, mostly with my doctor or on the internet because speaking to someone else seemed like the hardest thing to do. It wasn’t enough. I was at the weakest point of my life and needed support from real people who understood my struggle. I remember one night I looked at my son while he was asleep and had a moment where I thought to myself: You have to fight to live because there are so many people out there who love you.

Prevention is better than cure. It’s time we stop making excuses and love ourselves enough to put our health first.

Soon after I heard about the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) from a good friend. There were talks and workshops that I could attend. I remember being hesitant about facing a crowd – but my friends encouraged me to attend a session. I could not have been more relieved! Suddenly, I no longer felt like I was alone. I learnt not to measure life in the number of years lived, but in the quality of time and contentment. I refocused on living. Sharing my story was one of the hardest things I had to do but afterwards, I regretted not doing it sooner. Today, I always encourage my family, friends and colleagues to go for regular Pap smear screenings and to vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (also known as HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer. Prevention is better than cure. It’s time we stop making excuses and love ourselves enough to put our health first. I am still on the road to recovery, both physically and emotionally, but I am very grateful. I’ve put my negative thoughts aside and am living well for the sake of my family. I know that there’s still a bit of a stigma when it comes to HPV as it is a sexually transmitted infection, but I can’t control what other people think. I have a new perspective on life, and I feel so blessed to have this time with my friends and family.”

HPV and Cervical Cancer

HPV causes 99% of all cervical cancer cases. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Malaysian women. Everyday, six new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed, and two women lose the fight against this disease.

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SOH HOOI’S STORY

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You can protect yourself

Getting infected with HPV is more common than you might think. The good news is there are two easy steps you can take to protect yourself.

Speak to a doctor

It can be hard to know what to say. Here are some helpful questions you can take to your next appointment.

Make an appointment

Find a clinic closest to you and set up an appointment to speak with your doctor about vaccination and screening.