Ipoh cancer survivor weaves and sells baskets to help abused women, take mind off disease

No one basket weave by cancer survivor Ally Ang Li Yen is the same. — Picture by Farhan Najib
No one basket weave by cancer survivor Ally Ang Li Yen is the same. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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IPOH, Dec 3 — Cancer survivor Ally Ang Li Yen has been putting her son before herself ever since he was young.

Born with Mitochondrial Cytopathy, which affects his muscle and nervous systems, the 41-year-old Ang was generally protective of her son, now 16 years old.

But in November 2016, life threw Ang a curveball when she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

“I nearly gave up during treatment but my son told me to fight on despite his condition.”

Cancer survivor Ally Ang Li Yen decided to start basket weaving to take her mind off cancer. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Cancer survivor Ally Ang Li Yen decided to start basket weaving to take her mind off cancer. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Speaking to Malay Mail, Ang said her son was getting bullied at school because of his condition.

“In spite of that, he still wants to go to school,” she said, adding that she and her husband then decided to home-school him.

Upon completion of her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment in 2017, Ang decided to take up basket weaving to take her mind off cancer.

“I have always loved art. I know how to knit and crochet. One day I decided to expand to basket weaving.”

Learning from YouTube, Ang would spend hours weaving a basket.

The longest she took was two weeks.

Cancer survivor Ally Ang Li Yen had weaved some 100 baskets since March. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Cancer survivor Ally Ang Li Yen had weaved some 100 baskets since March. — Picture by Farhan Najib

“No one basket is the same,” she said, adding that she went all out on the weaving activity during the movement control order in March.

Initially, she would give out the baskets to her family and friends.

“My husband helped me to set up a Facebook page in August to share my products.”

The page later caught the eye of non-governmental organisation Perak Women for Women (PWW) which asked Ang to display her baskets at their Market Street shop where proceeds would go towards helping abused women.

Since March, Ang has made over 100 baskets.

“Basket weaving is not a business to me. I am just doing it as each time I complete one basket, there is a sense of accomplishment.

“I want to tell people, especially cancer patients, that if I can do it, so can they,” said Ang, who had since participated in several marathons following the completion of her cancer treatment in 2017.

Those interested to purchase Ang’s basket can visit her Facebook page Basket With You.

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