Hello! I'm Leonie. I’m from Malaysia. I am nineteen this year, and I have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - a kind of blood cancer. I’m just trying to live my life to the fullest, without any regrets. I'm grateful that I’m still able to wake up to a brand new day and know that I'm still alive.

I refuse to refer to my condition as a disease. I would rather phrase it as a 'series of unfortunate events'.

I learn something new with each passing day. This is the story of my journey, and you're welcome to follow me in every step that I take.

If you would like to learn more about me and my condition, feel free to click on the navigations below. If you have any queries or would just like to say hello, drop me an e-mail at and I'll try to respond as soon as possible!



Sunday, 29 August 2010
and the jury speaks.

If there's something we should stop doing, we should really stop judging people from their looks and looks alone.

In my humble opinion, we don't really have the rights to judge someone and assume how they usually act and behave from just a simple glance or even after staring at them for so long, thinking you'd already understand how that person is like just by judging on someone's appearance.

As a cancer patient, I can relate to the treatment cancer patients are given. Basically, cancer patients undergo chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to kill the cancerous cells in our bodies. At the same time, other body cells that are not harmful are also killed. Depending on each patient's mental, emotional and physical health, treatment can either be painful, tormenting, tedious, stressful, tiring and a whole lot more.

I know chemotherapy makes my white blood cell count drop. It causes me to have nearly zero immunity to germs, bacteria and viruses. I can fall sick very easily if I'm not careful. Hence, me wearing a surgical mask whenever I'm out. And going out is rare and uncommon for me nowadays unless completely necessary. My parents really don't want to expose me to any potential harm in the outside world. I understand their good intentions, but trust me. Staying in the house all the time, I'm this near to insanity.

Okay, I was just exaggerating. I just get very restless, that's all.

Now, to the main issue of the day.

I have to agree when it's said that society in general judge people who are wearing surgical masks in a negative light. People tend to assume that we are bearing some kind of highly contagious and deadly disease. Besides that, there are also people who tend to stare at us just because of the fact that we are wearing a surgical mask. I'm not sure about other countries, but here in Malaysia, if one has a flu or is coughing quite badly, wearing a surgical mask is considered troublesome, uncomfortable or/and unnecessary. In fact, nobody really wears it. Those who are sick normally just take the day off from school or from work.

There was one time when I went out for a quick dinner with my parents and my brother. Of course, I had to wear a surgical mask. The moment I stepped out from the car, I received stares from nearly everybody who saw me. Some of them tend to look at me for so long, I got really uncomfortable and I was starting to get self-conscious. I even overheard a few of them saying things like,

"That girl has H1N1. Stay away from her."

"Why is she wearing a surgical mask? I'm sure she has something like HIV or AIDS! Why is she even here in the first place? She should be staying at home instead of being so selfish! She can spread it to everybody here!"

Talk about being judgemental and making unfair assumptions. It was only too obvious that they have little knowledge regarding health issues.

Readers, if I had H1N1, I would have been given strict instructions to be kept quarantined.

If I have AIDS or HIV, I can't transmit the disease to you unless I had sexual intercourse with you. Neither I can do so if I did not share needles with you. It can only spread to another individual through infected body fluids from the inside of an infected person to the inside of another person. If you can't figure out how, go and find out. There are so many sources to which one can find out how AIDS or HIV spreads.

I understand that it could be just a normal reaction from people to quickly avoid someone who is wearing a surgical mask, because they don't want to risk getting infected and fall sick. But like I said, these people have no rights to judge and assume if they don't know what is really going on.

In the end, I figured out the best solution to avoid all these uncomfortable stares.

Stare back. They tend to shy away knowing that they got caught staring, which is actually very rude. Haven't you been told that it is actually rude to stare?

This is why I do not stare at random people when I go out to face the world. I know how much I don't like it, and if I want to be treated the same, I shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

To conclude, just a friendly note to all my readers. It is rude to stare at people, and people wear surgical masks for good reasons. If you don't know, don't assume.


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Friday, 27 August 2010
meet Elena.

Yesterday, my parents showed me an article from the Sin Chew Daily. It's about this amazing girl, who made an amazing difference to the world.

Elena Desserich.
She was five years old when she was diagnosed with inoperable paediatric brain cancer in 2006.
Elena was only six when she passed away in 2007.
Bless her innocent soul.

It was then her parents found notes left behind by Elena,
all expressing her love for those around her -
especially her parents and her younger sister Grace.
These notes had been cleverly hidden by little Elena in the house for her loved ones to find.

These are some of the notes and art left behind by Elena.
For more of her creativity and notes,
do click here to visit the site dedicated to her and the notes she left behind.

Her parents, Keith and Brooke Desserich,
decided to compile the notes together with their journal that they had written after Elena was diagnosed into a book titled Notes Left Behind.
All proceeds from the book goes to The Cure Starts Now Cancer Foundation,
a charity dedicated to finding a unified cure for all forms of cancer.

To learn more about The Cure Starts Now Foundation,
click here to visit the official site.

If you would like to know more about her story,
click here for an article I found online regarding this inspiring girl and her family.

I'm blogging about little Elena here to share with all of you her inspiring story. Her simple acts of love had certainly left their mark on many individuals around the world.

I wonder if the book is sold in Malaysia. Time to start searching.

I hope you are inspired.

Because I know I am.



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Thursday, 26 August 2010
where is the love?

I started off today by reading the newspaper.

A particular article caught my eye, and I would like to share it with all of my readers here.

The headlines of the article is certainly heart-wrenching.

Breast cancer survivor stabbed by snatch thief on pedestrian bridge.

Madam Leong Lai Yong fought breast cancer for over two years, and she succeeded in overcoming it. That's not an easy feat at all, fellow readers. As a cancer patient myself, I can sort of relate.

And her life ended cruelly, just like that. To a snatch thief.

To me, that snatch thief isn't even human. It's an animal.

My deepest condolences to her family members, relatives and friends. May her soul rest in peace on the other side.

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010
i define beauty like this.

The 1st of August 2010 is a day of much significance to me.

That very same day was the day I finally get to shave my head and go bald.

My hair loss only became apparent two weeks after my first chemo session. At first, it was just a few innocent strands. I assumed it was normal hair fall, since I kept my hair long before this. It wasn't unusual to hear my mum's complaints about her having to see strands of my hair on the floor everywhere at home. She likes cleanliness and neatness. My thick long hair back then did not help one bit.

Then, more and more strands of hair started to fall at quite an alarming rate. I can't even tie my hair into a ponytail without seeing clumps of hair in my hands afterwards. It then hit me - the most obvious side-effect of chemotherapy is showing itself.

Combing my hair was a nightmare. Waking up in the morning was also traumatising. Trust me, it does when you have to wake up, tidy your bed and see hair all over your pillow. Wow.

I got frustrated and annoyed by this major hair loss of mine. I begged my parents to bring me out to have someone to shave my hair off immediately. Seeing my mum pick up strands of my hair on the floor without complaning, I was touched when she told me she did it so I wouldn't feel more upset at the sight of fallen hair.

Truth is, I wasn't afraid of going bald. I was actually scared of having to witness the process of me losing my hair. It was a slow and heartwrenching event to watch. My hair acted as a confidence-booster whenever I go out to face the world. I hardly have bad hair days. As a person with major self-esteem problems before, my long hair has hid me from unwanted attention and accusing eyes.

I'm not being dramatic, nor am I exaggerating. Yes, my hair did play an important role in my life as a teenager especially.

I am proud to say though, I did not cry when I was having my hair shaved off. I admit, I did tear up occasionally because my mum and the nice lady barber who was doing the shaving were making supportive and encouraging comments. I giggled my way throughout, since it was actually pretty ticklish!

Besides the lady barber, her assistant, my mother and myself, there was another customer who was watching the entire process of me having all my hair shaved off. She was shocked at my positive reaction. I can't blame her. It's a rare sight to see a teenage girl laugh the whole thing off.

I never knew having your hair shaved off would take quite some time to finish. I think I spent more than an hour there. It's wrong of me to assume that shaving someone's head is just a simple process of 'snip, snip, snip, and you're done!', that kind of thing.

My brother and our friend Wanda both suggested the idea of me getting a mohawk first before finally shaving all my hair off. I found that idea really cool, but I was too shy to bring it up with the barber. And seeing that the barber is from a Chinese-speaking background, I was at a loss. I did not know how to say the word 'mohawk' in Chinese, even though I can speak the language. Surprisingly, the message somehow got through thanks to my mum who has a better command of the language.

I was lucky the barber was really nice and generous enough to spend the extra time and effort to get my mohawk done, and allow me to take photos of it before the final cut. I was also lucky of the fact that there were no other customers at that time.

I was tempted to keep my mohawk, but since it requires styling and the fact that my hair is still falling off at an extreme rate, I said farewell to my mohawk. The barber's assistant said I looked really handsome. So do quite a number of my friends - both guys and girls. Aha, I'm really flattered by the compliments.

"Give me some FIERCE, baby!"
This is my profile shot..

..and here's how it looks like from the back.
There's a glimpse of my mum in the photo.
She's going to kill me when she sees this. Heh.
She reads this blog of mine, by the way.
So hi mum!

Anyway, I'll definitely go for this look again when I'm done with all the chemo sessions. And maybe get a hair tattoo at the same time, as suggested by a dear friend, Aishah Jaafar. Now that's something worth looking forward to! (:

It's odd to look at my collection of combs nowadays. Hairclips, hair scrunchies, hair ties, hair bands and hair everything are now kept in a box and hidden from sight till the day I decide to have long hair again. I eventually will, no worries there.

If I don't look into a mirror or anything that I can see my reflection on, I feel just the same as when I still have long hair. Funny, but true.

Oh yes, going bald is actually a personal achievement for me. Since having long hair, the length of my hair has never been above my shoulders. I'm actually glad short hair will look okay on me, I never dared to try. There are so many short hairstyles that I'm dying to try, so that's one worry off my mind.


For now,
I'll embrace this definition of beautiful.

I have this newly found confidence that I'd never felt before.
This is me, going all out for cancer awareness and support.

To cancer patients who have to go bald,
it doesn't matter how you look like on the outside.
It's the inside that is what really matters.
We got to stay strong, and go for the win!

You think you're not pretty,
and you frequently complain about your looks.
Yes, you're not pretty.
It's because you're beautiful.
Be blessed that you have normal features,
and a body with two hands and legs.
So stop complaining.

You think you're ugly.
People make fun of you, tease you,
and even laugh at you.
Hey, it's not the end of the world.
They don't know any better.
You must learn to love yourself.
There will be people who'll love you for who you are, on the inside.
So don't let those words hurt you and bring you down.
You got to prove them wrong.
Letting them see you feel miserable about your looks,
it means they have won.
So show them that you can reverse that situation,
and let them stare at you in awe as you embrace yourself for who you are.

'Cause we are beautiful no matter what they say.
Yes, words won't bring us down, oh no!
We are beautiful in every single way.
Yes, words can't bring us down!
Don't you bring me down today
Beautiful, ©Christina Aguilera.


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Sunday, 22 August 2010
decisions decisions.

If there's something I really regret, it's the fact that I didn't open this blog right away on the 5th of July.

Why the 5th of July, of all dates?

Well, that particular day is the day when it all started.

I was so caught up in going for X-rays, scans, and seeking different specialists' opinions on my then not known condition, I never really had the idea of opening a cancer blog. Of course, maybe I can't fully be blamed for that.

Then, I have no idea that I have cancer. It never struck me that I'll get cancer at seventeen. I was just praying and hoping that my tumour does not consist of cancerous cells. Who knows? It could be just random lumps of body cells that won't cause me any harm. You may say that's merely wishful thinking on my part, but I'd always thought I am a fairly healthy person. Sure, I just fell sick more often than I really should for the past two years. But I do keep to a healthy lifestyle.

I frequently exercise. I do sports. I used to be good at sports like running, high jump and long jump. I said I used to be good because apparently, I can't seem to excel at these sports anymore, maybe with the exception of running. I did well for my recent fitness evaluation that was conducted in school. I don't take fizzy drinks except for isotonic ones. For example, I have not drank Coke, Pepsi and any other fizzy drinks with colouring since years ago.

I include a lot of vegetables and fruits in my diet. When we eat out, my parents will request for less salt and oil to be added in the cooking. My mother, of course, adds a very little amount of salt and oil to her dishes. My family is already used to such food. I rarely consume fast food as well.

Maybe that's why a lot of people were shocked when they found out I have cancer at this age. I myself was shocked too, at first.

In a society where cancer is becoming rampant among individuals, regardless of age, colour, social background, and lifestyle - we really need to become more health-conscious. I don't mean health freaks or people who are obsessed with health all the time. But it's really important to take note of your health and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

I don't mean to sound like I'm writing a typical essay about healthy lifestyles for school. Neither do I want to sound like I'm lecturing my readers about what they should do with their lives. I also don't want to sound corny and typical, and use proverbs like 'health is wealth'. You have no idea how much that proverb is true though.

If you don't have a healthy body and mind, won't you be spending a lot on medication, whether it's long-term or short-term?

Even if you can afford the medical fees,
is being sick worth the pain, the suffering and the physical and emotional burden it brings?

Think about it.

Anyway, I will be gradually writing about my experience from the 5th of July onwards in this blog. Hopefully I don't forget any important details. Stay tuned, readers.


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Saturday, 21 August 2010
the clock is ticking.

Response has been pretty good so far. Thanks to all who left a tag in my Cbox. (:

Sometimes, I feel unproductive because I feel like I'm wasting a lot of precious time doing nearly nothing at home.

Before, I was just a fifth former in her last year of high school, preparing for her major exams at the end of the year. I attended tuition classes and school. I ranted about the amount of assignments I had, the crazy schedules I had to keep up with, how I never got enough sleep from all the chaos and hecticness.

Being a people-pleaser, I hate disappointing people. That pretty much includes everyone, ranging from my parents, friends, teachers, and even total strangers at times. As a school prefect, I was also afraid of breaking the school rules, and getting into trouble. I never liked trouble. I didn't like the severity and consequences it brings.

I'm also an unfortunate procrastinator. I like putting off my work to the very last minute. Quoting a teacher, I seem to work best under pressure. All the best ideas almost always appear at desperate times when I needed them most.

Hence, since entering secondary school especially, my time management skills are really bad. I would be finding myself rushing out essays, cracking my brains to solve sums, and getting very cranky in attempt to finish reports in the wee hours of the morning. I would go to school the next day, complaining to my classmates about how little sleep I got to complete all these homework.

Many classmates just could not understand why am I so paranoid about homework. Most of them would just complete the homework at their own pace and eventually hand them in to the teachers. Some of them are not even bothered.

I wasn't paranoid about the homework I guess. I just had a fear of getting into trouble.

I know a lot of people who know me think that I have cancer now, at such an early age, is due to the unnecessary pressure and stress I tend to put on myself. Accumulated over the years, it has finally taken a toll on my health. My parents agree, but only slightly. They believe it could be due to genetics as well. I am of the same opinion as my parents.

But ultimately, the reason to why I have lymphoma - that isn't important now.

What's most important is, I get myself treated, rid of the tumour completely, fully recover from my condition, and get back to a much more normal lifestyle. Of course, without the unnecessary stress and pressure. Studies did show excessive pressure and stress can cause the formation of cancerous cells.

The moral of the story is, I hope all you readers realise the importance of stress management. Whenever in doubt, try putting a smile on your face. It'll do you lots of good to have those endorphins, or happy hormones in your body. Besides, it's free.




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Friday, 20 August 2010

Hello there, and I welcome all to this site of mine.

I'm inspired to start a cancer blog mainly because I wanted to document my experiences. But of course, the late Shin's blog plays a major part in me starting this blog as well. Bless her good soul.

I am aware there are many friends, acquantainces and strangers out there who are curious about my condition. Therefore, here is an outlet for all of you to learn and find out, the nice way. Why do I call this the nice way? Well, this is due to the fact that I'm actually opening this blog for all to read, without the invasion of my privacy. I thought it'll be better off to be nice and enlighten people about being a cancer patient. Of course, with the condition that my original sites be kept at a certain level of privacy.

This blog is also for other cancer patients or survivors to chance upon, and may we all be able to share our experiences of our battles in fighting various types of cancer. In my case, it's B-cell lymphoma.

Like I had mentioned, this blog shall be mostly about my experiences in being a cancer patient. Besides that, I will also be including the little life lessons that I had slowly picked up in this adventure of mine.

Feel free to leave comments about this blog, or you can just leave a tag. I will be more than happy to reply to all, be it nice words of encouragement or nasty comments trying to bring me down. I am generally very open to critique, so clear your doubts and go ahead.

Till the next post, cheers!



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