Thrice the pain agony

> Dr Azlan Ka­mal­lud­din has to be­come care­giver to three mem­bers of his fam­ily who were di­ag­nosed with can­cer, all within 10 months

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FEATURE -

cure,” says Azlan. “The med­i­ca­tion merely helped to slow down the dis­ease.”

Less than two months af­ter his fa­ther-in-law’s can­cer di­ag­no­sis, Azlan learned that his own fa­ther, Ka­mal­ludin Abu Bakar, 70, had prostate can­cer.

As it hap­pened, Azlan was in the same room as his fa­ther when the urol­o­gist de­liv­ered the bad news.

Ini­tially want­ing to soften the blow for his fa­ther, Azlan discussed the di­ag­no­sis with the urol­o­gist in English. How­ever, his at­tempt was not suc­cess­ful.

After­wards, both fa­ther and son had break­fast in the hos­pi­tal cafe­te­ria. His fa­ther then told him that he had guessed the truth af­ter see­ing the wor­ried ex­pres­sions on both the faces of Azlan and the urol­o­gist.

“I ad­mired my fa­ther for his courage,” says Azlan. “His op­ti­mistic at­ti­tude made it seem as though his can­cer [was like] the com­mon cold.”

Sadly, fate was not fin­ished with Azlan.

Just six months later, Azlan’s wife As­fah Mohd Yu­soff, 41, was di­ag­nosed with Hodgkin’s

lym­phoma. It was a dif­fi­cult mo­ment for the lov­ing cou­ple. “I’ve known her since I was 20,” Azlan says. “I met her for the first time when I was work­ing part-time in a book store owned by my un­cle. She was [the] cashier.”

Af­ter two months, the two fell in love and be­gan dat­ing.

Then, Azlan re­ceived an ac­cep­tance let­ter from the med­i­cal fac­ulty at Dal­housie Univer­sity in Canada.

“I spent six years in Canada,” he says. “It was lit­er­ally halfway around the world.”

The cou­ple spoke on the phone al­most on a weekly ba­sis, and even wrote to each other.

“Dur­ing those six years, I only came back to Malaysia ev­ery two years for about two months,” he says.

His rel­a­tives and friends were amazed that the cou­ple had re­mained close de­spite the longdis­tance ro­mance.

Af­ter Azlan earned his med­i­cal de­gree, the two sweet­hearts got mar­ried, and raised three daugh­ters to­gether.

When his wife be­gan los­ing her hair from the chemo­ther­apy, Azlan found him­self shav­ing his beloved’s head.

“I never imag­ined that one day, I would be shav­ing my wife’s head bald,” he says.

Azlan tried to be op­ti­mistic for her, even though he was hurt­ing in­side.

“I can’t imag­ine how she [must have] felt,” he says. “Once her head was shaved, I gave her a kiss on [the top of] her head.”

To pre­pare his daugh­ters – Balqis, 14, Sara, 12, and Hawa, eight – for their mother’s new look, he went to the bar­ber and got his own head shaved.

Ini­tially, the girls were shocked to see him with­out any hair. They laughed, touch­ing his smooth head. Then, they saw that their mother, too, was bald.

Hap­pily, the girls man­aged to find hu­mour in the sit­u­a­tion. Azlan had suc­cess­fully turned a po­ten­tially-awk­ward and tragic mo­ment into a pos­i­tive one.

“In fact, one of my daugh­ters said my wife and I were ‘cool’, with our new looks,” Azlan says.

Is he an­gry at God for giv­ing can­cer to his loved ones?

He says: “Faith is im­por­tant. You need some­thing to cling to when you are in such a sit­u­a­tion.”

He ad­mits that his most dif­fi­cult chal­lenge in the years since the di­ag­noses has been try­ing not to live in con­stant fear of can­cer.

For ex­am­ple, when­ever one of his daugh­ters falls ill, he al­ways as­sumes the worst, and takes his girl for an in­ten­sive med­i­cal check-up. Slowly, he is try­ing to shed this ap­pre­hen­sion.

Azlan then de­cides to put down his ex­pe­ri­ences in a book in the hope of reach­ing out and pro­vid­ing guid­ance to oth­ers who are in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

The book, Three Can­cers in Ten Months, which was pub­lished early this year, de­tails all his ex­pe­ri­ences in car­ing for his fam­ily mem­bers, as they strug­gled with three dif­fer­ent types of can­cers and treat­ments.

Three Can­cers in Ten Months (RM34.90) is cur­rently avail­able in both Ba­hasa Malaysia and English at se­lected book­stores, and through Azlan’s own web­site (drka­zlan.com).

PIX COUR­TESY OF AZLAN KA­MAL­LUD­DIN ZULKIFLI ERSAL/THESUN

(left) Azlan with his wife As­fah and their three daugh­ters (from far left) Sara, Hawa, and Balqis. (be­low, left) Azlan wants to guide oth­ers by shar­ing his story in his book (be­low).

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