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