I have the opportunity to know and really talk to him during his 2nd year diagnosed as a Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) patient. I still remember it was during our first fundraising initiative in 2015 at Hospital Kuala Lumpur, paediatric ward. We invited all patients and even the public community to chip in goods and donation to give the children in ward during December 2015 as a Christmas visit. Some of our patients even dressed up as Batman and Santa Claus to cheer up the children.
He came with his college friends. He was pursuing his study in medicine that time when he was diagnosed with CML. There were so many uncertainties during those years where one would be pondering what the next phase of life would be. However for him, he was wondering would he be able to live a normal life like his peers?
His name is Thilip Kumar Ragavan and here is his sharing:
On 27th March 2014, upon receiving my blood result with diagnosis stated as Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, I had no clue about the disease nor my future. All I felt was sad, for being unsure of lots of things at that time but then, I had these two words in my mind – it was HOPE & POSITIVITY! People without medical knowledge thought things going to end for me but I was still fine as the treatment option wasn't that conclusive yet at that moment. Fast forward, I got my second opinion and started the treatment with first generation of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor. Honestly, I have never liked my treatment phase with Imatinib as it will cause massive nausea whenever I take the pills and after a year, I was put on the highest dosage. Due to the nauseating effect and such, I usually take the tablets before going to bed but then being extremely lethargic at that time, I often fall asleep right after holding the pill on my bed. Eventually ended up with compliance issue which also affected my treatment journey. Switched to second generation with more tolerable side effects and well managed life.
Physically, the challenges were massive changes in body shape and skin color – where you will have to answer to lots of people why are you getting fairer or growing bigger despite exercising and such. I had trouble to control my weight and living in hostel affected my diet as well because you can never find proper healthy diet. Emotionally, till today I have a fear towards nausea and I will be very anxious when it's the appointment to receive you PCR test result. Also, being a multitasker and ambitious all the time caused myself working back to back and at my age (20s) that should not be an issue but then, side effects such as unexplained tiredness will be affecting my daily routine.
Challenges are meant to be faced! I have a very structured life, allocated specific time for fitness (daily basis), avoid stress as much as I can, healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, compliance with treatment, a good rest and motivational support from the loved ones has been helping myself to manage my 7th year of survival very well!
I believe that everything happens for a reason and the reason is, to make a strong comeback, to contribute back to society, to positively impact others' life and to prove to stakeholders that Cancer Survivors are unstoppable!
With Hope ~ Thilip Kumar Ravagan