Cancer has become beatable, so keep your chin up and beat it

My Cancer Story - Urmilah Dass

This is a series of #cancer stories I am writing to raise money for cancer research so that the vital work that needs to be done in cures and therapies may continue. In this series, I interview others who have or are still battling cancer in order to share their story, to empower and uplift. If you would like to share your story, donate any amount, help spread this message or want to find out more, please contact me at rowena @ rowenamorais dot com. Thank you very much for reading.

This is Urmilah Dass’s story.

I am a Malaysian living in Kuala Lumpur for slightly over 30 years. Originally from Kuantan, an East coast beach town, I work as a clinical psychologist at my own practice and I am also a consultant at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

Unfortunately, like many people, I had not been going for regular medical check-ups. It had been many, many years since I had one done. However, sometime in July 2018, the opportunity presented itself when I decided to do behaviour therapy with two of my clients who needed to do their medical check-ups.

In order to work through their fears, I signed myself up with them for an Executive Health screening at Prince Court Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur. It was during this time that the doctors found an enlarged ovarian cyst and I was told I needed surgery as soon as possible.

I must say that it has been quite the journey since the end of July 2018. I was seen by almost nine doctors in preparation for my surgery on 8 August 2018. I had to have both CT and PET scans to screen for tumours. The scans ‘lit up’ somewhere near my right ovary and there was also a ‘mass’ in my right lung. I had surgery and the biopsy results were positive for cancer.

In order to work through their fears, I signed myself up with them for an Executive Health screening at Prince Court Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur. It was during this time that the doctors found an enlarged ovarian cyst and I was told I needed surgery as soon as possible. I must say that it has been quite the journey since the end of July 2018. I was seen by almost nine doctors in preparation for my surgery on 8 August 2018. I had to have both CT and PET scans to screen for tumours. The scans ‘lit up’ somewhere near my right ovary and there was also a ‘mass’ in my right lung. I had surgery and the biopsy results were positive for cancer.

What has changed since then?

This ordeal has changed me in many ways.

I feel like I don’t have time to waste now. I want to do and experience many things, some of which I have already started doing. It has also opened my eyes to the people around me. Being ill, needing help and getting moral support did not come from flesh and blood but from my husband, ex-students and friends. In addition to the chaos cancer has caused, I have also experienced emotional pain and suffering. I believe even more now that I am alone and the master of my own destiny.                 

There were some things which remained the same. My work, which gives me energy and a passion to go on, remains the same for me. I went back to work two weeks after major surgery and I found it therapeutic to work through my chemotherapy.

I have learnt from this experience that it is always better to take care of our health and well-being. We have this one life – we need to be healthy in order for us to live it fully. For others who may be on a similar journey, dealing with cancer, I ask you to surround yourself with good people, be resilient and never give up. There’s nothing I would have done differently about this part of my journey – I did exactly what I thought was right and best for me. Cancer has become so rampant but medicine has progressed very far too. Cancer has become beatable, so keep your chin up and beat it.

Looking back, I believe I was very brave. My close friend Dr Stellios helped research my cancer and I read up about my choices which helped me make educated and informed choices. I believe it was the only approach that would keep me safe and alive. And here I am!

As told by Urmilah Dass, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Valley Psychological Services. Urmilah provides psychotherapy, psychometric testing, social skills & social support group work for adults, adolescents and children. She works with children with disabilities, provides support for parents/carers and has organized and run the Sensory Motor Instructional Learning Experience (S.M.I.L.E) program specifically for children with special needs.

You can read my story – We Rise By Lifting Others. You can also read other stories in this series.

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