PETALING JAYA, Jan 8 — A group of Penang expatriates have gone above and beyond to raise funds for cervical cancer testing and awareness in Malaysia with an impressive 100km hike.
Rebecca Roberts from Australia, Greer Hawley from New Zealand and Sam Williams from the UK spent four days hiking in the hot and humid jungles of Penang Hill.
The ladies wanted to raise awareness of the disease that the World Health Organization described as “one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer” by pledging support for the Rose Foundation.
Rose are pioneers of a self-sampling method to make testing quick and painless in place of Pap smears.
Roberts chose the non-profit after visiting the Kuala Lumpur headquarters and was impressed with the small but dedicated team that processes hundreds of HPV tests a week.
After 103.99km, 5,316 elevation and 163,279 total steps, Roberts, Hawley and Williams raised RM18,142 at the time of writing.
With one HPV self-sampling test costing around RM250, the women are aiming to raise enough funds for 100 testing kits from their RM25,000 target.
It took them months of training and countless route changes as well as friends who helped to raise funds by selling baked goods.
Their journey began on December 27, 2020 from Moongate near the Penang Botanical Gardens and arrived at the finish line on December 30, 2020 at Straits Quay Marina.
Recalling the first day of the journey, Roberts said she and her friends were overwhelmed with the support.
“It was fantastic to see a wave of teal T-shirts join us for the first seven kilometres up Penang Hill — all while observing Covid-19 standard operating procedures and social distancing,” she said in a statement.
Their friend Gretchen Fryar from Kuala Lumpur joined in on Day One’s gruelling 28km.
Their hike saw them glamping at Teluk Bahang, treating heat rash and blisters, and crossing paths with scorpions, monkeys, butterflies, squirrels, lizards and a small swarm of bees.
After hiking past Balik Pulau, Ngor Hean Temple, Air Itam Dam and Tiger Hill, the women were joined by Rose Foundation trustee Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman and friends for the final 3.5km, motivating them for the home stretch.
“The footpath was covered with members of the local community cheering “sudah sampai” (you’ve reached) us as we crossed the finish line.
“I was completely overwhelmed with how receptive the community was to learn about cervical cancer, making donations and encouraging us to push-on with comments on Facebook each day.
“Terima kasih, xie xie, kam sia, nandri and thank you to all those who supported us,” Roberts said.
The women are hoping to make the fundraiser a yearly event.
“We can try to help Malaysia, hopefully other countries will start to do the same,” Roberts wrote on Facebook after completing the hike.
To donate, visit here.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.