PETALING JAYA, Oct 19 — Fighting a disease can sometimes be a lonely journey.
For some, they make it through with people by their side to give them the support and love they need.
In an effort to thank such people (in this case breast cancer survivors and their buddies), the Malaysian Official Designers Association (Moda) organised a Pink Buddies’ Day Out where 16 pairs of breast cancer survivors and their friend who helped them shared their stories about their journeys.
Moda also prepared a special surprise for the survivors and their friends where they brought in local fashion designers to accessorise them on October 3 at W Kuala Lumpur.
MalayMail spoke to breast cancer survivors, their buddies and fashion designers to share how their journeys have been and how they felt after the makeover session.
Husband by her side
Azlinda Tammatulmadz, 35, who just finished her last herceptin treatment said that being a breast cancer survivor was a gift from God as she has learned to enjoy this phase of her life with her loved ones around her.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer last November during the 37th week of her fourth pregnancy.
Subsequently, she had to undergo induced labour the next day after getting her biopsy results.
“I was upset and down initially. But that didn’t hamper my spirits as I believed I could be free from it if I take the right steps.”
Luckily for Azlinda, her husband Mohamad Jamil Jusoh helped her by taking care of her and their sons especially during her chemotherapy treatment.
“My husband has been my strongest pillar of support as he has been motivating me with words of encouragement and calming me down whenever I feel upset.
Asked as to how she felt after the makeover session, she said she felt elated after wearing a dress as it made her feel extra confident and special that day as her normal go-to outfit would usually be jeans and a shirt.
She also advised to be aware of any symptoms and to do a medical check-up if something did not feel right.
“Early detection of any illness can help save our lives and at the same time, lead a healthy and well-balanced life.”
For 29-year-old Ding Yih Ming, she was diagnosed with breast cancer last October and completed her chemotherapy, targeted therapy, lumpectomy and radiotherapy in May this year.
She is currently on oral hormone medication for 10 years.
“I was confused initially when diagnosed with cancer as I had no family history of breast cancer. But I was fortunate to be diagnosed at an early stage which was stage two.
“It was a terrifying period in the beginning, as I felt lost and was overwhelmed with many questions and doubts about the cancer.
“But luckily, I reached out to family members and friends who have been offering me support and love in their own ways.”
Her buddy who came with her for the event, Lim Xiao Yun, 33, told MalayMail that her case and Ding’s case were unique as they both shared the same hospital, and had similar diagnoses and treatment plans.
“We have always been there for each other and supporting one another with tips such as managing the side effects of therapy.
“Because we have each other, we are able to uplift each other whenever one of us is feeling down or needs someone to talk to. And that makes the entire arduous journey a little less lonely and hopeful.”
Lim was also dumbfounded when she knew that she had breast cancer early this year as she didn’t have any family history of breast cancer.
She had completed most of the chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy back in June this year.
“I was lost, scared and worried for my family especially for my two younger sons. But once I researched more about the cancer, I became positive about the treatment and its outcome.
“As a survivor, I always have the constant fear of wondering whether the cancer will ever make its way back to me and if it does whether I’ll have the strength to pull myself out from it again.
“But looking at both my sons, I have no doubt that I want to bring them up myself and be there for them which is why I have to be positive.”
As to how she felt after the makeover, Lim revealed that she had a fantastic day as it has been a while since she felt pretty after shaving her head to chemotherapy.
“The designers and the make-up team made me feel pretty even without my usual long hair.”
Ding also shared a similar experience where she said that she had never felt this pretty after losing her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes to chemotherapy.
“Wearing a beautiful dress made me feel like a pretty fairy for Moda’s event. It was a great day meeting other cancer survivors too as all of us were very cheerful and positive,” she said.
Creating unique styles
Fashion designer and founder of ‘Double U’ brand Jimmy Wong said it was difficult as he was only given the measurements and pictures of the survivor and her daughter.
Wong was tasked to doll up a breast cancer survivor and her daughter into a modern contemporary street style that was different from their normal fashion styles.
“My first instinct when I saw them at the event was to transform their styles into something different from their current styles.
“Luckily, I was fortunate enough that both the survivor and her buddy were open to new styles which made the dressing-up part a fun experience.”
Wong shared that being a designer, it was important for him to not only create outfits for models, but also for any other ordinary person.
He said that it was satisfying to hear the daughter compliment her mother saying how elegant she looked and that touched him.
“It definitely feels good to be able to put a smile on someone’s face throughout the whole makeover as the pair were constantly smiling that made them even more beautiful even after they wore their outfits.
“And the duo told me that they have been constantly staying strong for each other, and I too was inspired by their stories to cherish and appreciate the people around me.”
Budding fashion designer Woo Boon Kit or fondly known by his brand name as Kit Woo shared that he created a unique style for a married couple dressed in jackets.
“When I received the picture of the couple dressed for a somewhat colder climate, I decided to create something similar so that it feels as though they are dressed to travel again.”
When asked as to how he felt dressing up the pair, Kit Woo said that the onus was on the designers to interpret, adapt and to cater to people of all skin tones and sizes.
“The couple were overwhelmed with excitement after being dressed up, and prior to that, they were also open to my styles and suggestions,” he said.