BEING diagnosed with cancer will come as a shock for anyone. It was no different for Selvaraj G. Nadarajah.
He felt the first signs that something was not right while he was on a holiday with his family in New Zealand early last year.
His family noticed he looked tired, but he said it was more likely due to his diabetic condition acting up.
“Nonetheless, I went to a doctor who, after diagnosis, told me that my kidneys were in good shape. On the other hand, he insisted that a colonoscopy was necessary,” he told theSun at his home in Section 17.
Selvaraj decided that he would act on the doctor’s advice when he returned home to Malaysia. But on their arrival on March 18, the country went into lockdown as the first wave of Covid-19 swept in.
He was eventually referred to a hospital for screening but before he could get himself examined, the hospital was converted into a centre for Covid-19 patients.
“As a result, I was back waiting to be screened. Everyone was worried, but we had to be patient,” he said.
Still hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, the family rallied around him. Together, they sought medical advice from friends and physicians. The frequent text messages finally reached several cancer survivors, who urged him not to give up.
His wife, Prof Dr Susila Devi K. Suppiah, was equally distressed.
“But I’m also realistic. I realised we had to move on. I just wanted him to get the necessary treatment.”
Selvaraj said while he was not in pain, the symptoms were obvious.
“There were times when I had to go to the bathroom up to 10 times to relief myself.”
He said he then began talking with other cancer survivors who advised him on how to deal with the situation.
As the movement restrictions began to ease, he managed to get a colonoscopy at the Pantai Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
The result, as he said plainly, “shocked me”. “It was a harrowing experience,” Sevaraj recalled.
“I’m a sportsman. I lead an exciting life, teaching executives to manage people. I’ve travelled the world. I was shocked to know there was a tumour in my rectum,” the former civil servant said.
His physician referred him to Datuk Dr Gerald Henry, a surgeon at Selayang Hospital.
A second colonoscopy was done and this time, it showed a tumour the size of an orange.
Selvaraj then began a session of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and a month later, he was back in Selayang Hospital, where he underwent a five-hour operation to remove the tumour.
“It was a complicated surgery and I had a minor cardiac event, requiring me to be admitted to the intensive care unit,” he said.
Nine months on, Selvaraj said the experience has become a distant memory.
“Having a positive attitude helps. Also, be patient,” he said, adding that it could take a whole day just waiting to be screened, but strong support from the family could go a long way to help ease the anxiety.
Both husband and wife are now on a Keto diet to better manage their health.
“He loves lamb but he now drinks almond milk, although he did indulge in a cheesecake our daughter made for his 70th birthday,” Susila Devi said with a laugh.