Being a patient or I better call myself and others as a Spartan, someone who is fighting for something each and every day.”

–Thilip Kumar Ragavan

We first met Thilip Kumar Ragavan in May 2014. He was a young chronic myeloid leukemia Spartan in the patient workshop at Hospital Ampang and was newly diagnosed with CML at that time, but the smile never left his face. Bright, vibrant, energetic, and positive – that’s Thilip.

It has been only two years, but we have seen Thilip grow to become an influential cancer advocate. He educates his friends and community about cancer. I talked with Thilip to understand how learning and experiences can transform us for the better.

Waheeda: Do you still remember your feelings the first time you have attended Max Family event? What was your idea of cancer support at that time?

Thilip: Yes I still remember the first time in 2014, it was at Hospital Ampang. At that time I did not know anything about cancer support. I felt lonely because I have never met anyone in the same situation as me. What would future hold for me?

Waheeda: So after 2 years, tell me how The Max Foundation and Max Family inspire your positive life growth.

Thilip: Max has helped me by providing mental support and keeps me motivated. When I meet the older survivors that are positive and being compliant on the treatment, they really do inspire me. I want somehow to be like them!

You know what, I even find our interaction in the social media platforms where stories are being shared (Facebook, WhatsApp Group) motivate me. Sometimes when other survivors share about their side effects from the medicine, it makes me aware of what might happen when I take that particular medicine.

Waheeda: I can see you involve actively in raising awareness about cancer. I want to call you “An advocate in your own league.” Can you tell a little bit about this?

Thilip: Being a patient, or, as I like to say, a Spartan (someone who is fighting something each and every day), I am usually open about my disease. I tell and advocate people on the sign and symptoms that I had, using whatever platforms made available for me (in my social circle and social media platforms).

Loss of weight was a major turn for cancer and I always tell people that we have great advancement in treatment and we have a great medical team in Malaysia. I try to empower those around me with stories and facts, to debunk the myths out there about cancer.

Waheeda: What keeps you going, even stronger?

Thilip: My mom, my younger sister, and my friends and family.

For my mom and sister, they need someone as a guardian of their life and this make me stronger. Every moment is an opportunity to build strength, I believe mental controls everything.

Waheeda: What’s one piece of advice that you heard during your diagnosis that you still hold onto today, perhaps forever?

Thilip: Don’t ever give up – you are a fighter.

Waheeda: Last but not least, could you please complete these sentences:

Thilip: Leaping forward is my thing.

I can make a difference by advocating people about cancer.

If there is a lesson to learn from Thilip, we should try our best to utilize every opportunity that knocks on our doors. Every moment is an opportunity for transformation.