Datuk Mohd Farid Ariffin founded the National Cancer Council (Makna) in 1994. Seeing his son battle leukaemia made him realise poor patients would have no chance of surviving the disease if they could not afford the treatments.
Below is Farid’s story in his own words:
“When cancer strikes a person it doesn’t strike just that person, it strikes the whole family. When it infected us, we had to travel as far as England. At that time, the treatment was not yet available in Malaysia. So, it was very expensive.
“Doctors said there was no other way to cure my son because it was in his marrow. The only medicine that could cure my son was within him. His mother and I could not help him because our marrow was not compatible. All I could do was cry.
From then on, I realised, we as human beings are blessed with so many gifts that even we could become part of a cure in a disease. That changed my life.
“I became a high-class beggar. I learned more about cancer, how to raise money and find new ways of treating cancer. Today, we’ve raised millions reaching as far as Vietnam to ensure cancer patients who could not get the treatments are getting better. At the same time, we are exploring new medications and approaches for cancer.
“I am not young anymore but this work has continued to encourage me because I know there are still many poor cancer patients. The support has been very good. We have been lucky. But we can be more lucky if more people can come to not only support the cure for cancer but to make it history.
“We encourage the public to help us raise money to do research, which is expensive because it takes so long and requires the intelligence of many. I hope the work now will pave the way for less expensive methods to treat cancer. I hope to live long enough to see this come true.
“But I am also worried about today’s lifestyle. Our eating habits. Work stress. The way we get angry at the slightest provocation My advice, ‘Take care of your body because its your own life’.
“Young people should be masters of their own destiny. They must not forget that they have the power to change things.
“I believe we learn from experience. I was born into a poor family. I broke the poverty line and became what I am today. God is so great. He will give you the gift of your own gift if you work hard enough. Once you are able to stand on your own feet, you should help others who are in need”. – By GRACE CHEN