KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — A breast cancer survivor related how her family once gave her grape seeds, which they mistakenly thought would help curb the disease, while they ate the fruit.
Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia president Ranjit Kaur said after a week, she felt it was very unfair and questioned the point of living.
“One day I said to my family, ‘Ah hah, you eat the seeds, I’ll eat the grapes’. They said ‘no, you have cancer’. I said ‘no, I have license, I have cancer. You haven’t got cancer, so you eat the seeds and I eat the grapes’. And so it stopped,” Ranjit told radio station BFM’s Health & Living 2019 conference here last Saturday.
Ranjit, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, said social stigma still surrounded the disease and told another story about buying vegetables at a market.
“After I chose vegetables, the woman in the market put the vegetables in the bag and she handed it to me. I said to her, ‘I have breast cancer, I’ve just been diagnosed’. She took a step back as if the cancer was contagious and then she handed the bag to me, but she didn’t hesitate to take my money from my hand though,” said Ranjit, to laughter from the audience.
Ranjit said that was when she realised she had cancer.
“My entire label has changed from a normal human being to someone who has cancer, just overnight.”
Ranjit said some told her that she got cancer because she was sinful.
“And my scientific mind kept asking, ‘when did I sin?’ You keep asking yourself those questions, you don’t get answers for it. Again it’s social stigma. It’s society judging us.”
The activist said she experienced a sense of loss of control when she got cancer, but spirituality and musing about the meaning of life helped her.
“I felt at peace when I started to think spiritually because it was more to do with a different level of thinking, compared to the world out there when people are judging you.”
According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2007 to 2011, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the country.
Breast cancer five-year survival in Malaysia was only 66.8 per cent for those diagnosed between 2007 and 2011, according to the Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival (MySCan) 2018 report.
Survival rates in Australia and the US, in comparison, were 89.5 per cent and 90.2 per cent respectively for women diagnosed in the 2010-2014 period, according to a January 2018 study published in The Lancet.