Cancer is not a stumbling block to national badminton champion Lee Chong Wei in his bid to continue with his dream of appearing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Almost four months after being diagnosed with first stage cancer in July, Chong Wei today made a public appearance to say that he is prepared to take on the national challenge to gain a slot in the Olympics starting next year.
The 36-year-old player who looked healthy and cheerful said he was relieved after he was declared cancer-free by doctors following 33 sessions of treatment in Taiwan.
"Thank you to all fans, my family and the association for praying for my good health as well as the supporting and inspiring me especially when I was going through a difficult patch to combat cancer.
“The disease is not an ordinary physical injury suffered by other athletes as contracting cancer is a much-feared condition by everybody.
"Like others, I was down, lost my appetite, could not sleep when I found out it was cancer,” he told a special media conference at Academy Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, today.
In his 18 years in the sport, the national hero had gone through various challenges. Among them was when he was tested positive for dexamethasone in October 2014 as well as several physical injuries.
However, the national shuttler never gave up and was always raring to continue his badminton career to bring honours for the country.
“I will return to the court after obtaining the approval of my doctor, maybe in December. Now I am training by myself in the house. I love badminton too much but now, health is my main concern.
“I do not want to stop. The Olympic gold has always been my dream, what's the use of playing in the Olympics if one wants to lose, obviously everybody wants the Olympic gold medal,” he said.
Difficult moments for him and family
Relating his two-month treatment in Taiwan which involved seven doctors, Chong Wei admitted the cancer attack was the most difficult moment for him and his family.
He was grateful all family members including his children were with him to give him moral support when he undergoing 33 proton therapy sessions which took 35 minutes for each treatment.
“I went for a medical examination after experiencing symptoms of breathing difficulty and coughing blood, but when I found it was positive for cancer, I was devastated, I could only cry and my mind went blank, so the doctors here advised me to seek treatment in Taiwan.
“In the first two weeks in Taiwan, I was able to withstand the treatment but by the third week, the proton therapy was getting increasingly difficult for me… it was very painful on my entire body especially the mouth and neck.
“At that time, I could not talk or eat and only drank milk, I was great pain each time I tried to swallow something, in fact my neck had already darkened due to the treatment," said the former world number one player who was accompanied by his wife Wong Mew Choo today.
Chong Wei, who lost five kilogrammes after the treatment, advised cancer patients to be brave in getting treatment and not to give up as cancer could be treated with the latest medical technology.
He will have to go for follow-up treatment in Taiwan every three months.