Tak­ing can­cer head on

> Anaz Ah­mad Ta­jud­din re­fused to let his can­cer di­ag­no­sis get him down, and now he wants to help other sur­vivors bat­tle the disease

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FEATURE - S. IN­DRA SATHIABALAN

WHEN Anaz Ah­mad Ta­jud­din was di­ag­nosed with kid­ney can­cer in early 2014, he was at the peak of his ca­reer as the head of en­gi­neer­ing for AirAsia Ber­had.

Anaz was un­der­go­ing a reg­u­lar med­i­cal check-up when his doc­tor no­ticed the right side of his stom­ach was bloated.

She made him un­dergo an ul­tra­sound, where a mass was dis­cov­ered in front of his kid­ney.

Anaz, who met with theSun at a pri­vate hos­pi­tal where he had a sched­uled ap­point­ment with his doc­tor, re­called the mo­ment the mass was dis­cov­ered.

“This was on Jan 28, 2014, right af­ter Chi­nese New Year,” he said.

“I re­mem­ber, be­cause that was the long­est hol­i­day of my life.”

Anaz then ar­ranged to have an op­er­a­tion to re­move the tu­mour just two weeks af­ter the di­ag­no­sis, on Feb 13.

In the days lead­ing up to the op­er­a­tion, Anaz was still calmly go­ing about his work as head of en­gi­neer­ing, and even gave a talk the day be­fore at an event in Singapore.

“I still re­mem­ber fly­ing back to Kuala Lumpur on Feb 12 and driv­ing to the hos­pi­tal,” said Anaz.

“[The op­er­a­tion] took 11-anda-half hours. I was ad­mit­ted for seven to nine days.

“Al­though they man­aged to re­move the tu­mour, they could not save the kid­ney, and [had to] re­move it too.”

Af­ter that, he was moved to a hos­pi­tal in Singapore where he started his chemo­ther­apy treat­ment.

Cur­rently, Anaz is fit­ted with a spe­cial de­vice that ad­min­is­ters his chemo­ther­apy medicine in small doses through­out the day.

“My chemo is to help pre­vent a re­cur­rence and to help me main­tain my life­style,” he ex­plained.

To­day, Anaz is liv­ing can­cer­free, and now serves as the chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of AirAsia Group.

He is liv­ing life to the fullest, ded­i­cat­ing him­self to his work, his fam­ily (he is a fa­ther of two) and healthy, fun pur­suits such as a re­cent scuba div­ing trip.

He has also im­ple­mented some im­por­tant life­style changes.

“I changed my diet,” he ex­plained. “Pre­vi­ously, I was a veg­e­tar­ian. I now eat fish.

“There are many schools of thought about di­ets for can­cer pa­tients, but then only you [re­ally] know what is best for your­self.

“I keep my­self as healthy as pos­si­ble. I have taken up hik­ing, [as well as] scuba div­ing.”

Look­ing back on his can­cer di­ag­no­sis, Anaz counts him­self as lucky.

“I was [di­ag­nosed] in be­tween stage three and four,” he said.

“In a way, I’m blessed. I had the best med­i­cal treat­ment. and I was [work­ing for] the best com­pany – AirAsia.

“AirAsia played an im­por­tant role in my bat­tle against can­cer, es­pe­cially Tony Fer­nan­dez.”

Anaz said that Fer­nan­dez, the founder and CEO of AirAsia, did not al­low him to dwell on his ill­ness.

“He just said we need to get me cured, and that [the com­pany] will sup­port me in the fight.”

Anaz added that he had sev­eral col­leagues who ei­ther had gone through their own bat­tles with can­cer, or had seen a loved one go through it.

AirAsia has been ac­tively sup­port­ive of the fight against the disease for sev­eral years.

In 2015, it ini­ti­ated the #AirAsi­aMakna cam­paign, a longterm com­mit­ment in part­ner­ship with the Na­tional Can­cer Coun­cil Malaysia (Makna).

“Work­ing to­gether with Makna is a per­sonal thing for me,” Anaz said.

“[We can] give back to those who can’t af­ford to get treat­ment [and] also give them emo­tional sup­port.”

AirAsia Ber­had is or­gan­is­ing the #AirAsi­aMakna 2016 Car­ni­val & Con­cert to en­cour­age sup­port and aware­ness in the fight against can­cer.

There will be com­pli­men­tary health ex­am­i­na­tions, health talks, spe­cial of­fers by health­care ser­vice providers, or­ganic food sam­pling and sales, a can­cer in­for­ma­tion dis­play, a cheque pre­sen­ta­tion to Makna, and per­for­mances by Malaysia’s lead­ing artistes such as Dato’ Siti Nurhal­iza, Joe Fl­iz­zow, Sona One and Kaka Azraff.

The #AirAsi­aMakna 2016 Car­ni­val & Con­cert takes place this Sun­day at Av­enue K Shop­ping Mall, KL from 10am to 10pm.

ASYRAF RASID/ THESUN

(left) Can­cer sur­vivor Anaz with the de­vice that helps de­liver his chemo­ther­apy medicine.

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