Raja Kumar is an affable, friendly man who can chat with a room full of strangers easily. A proud husband and father, he used to immerse himself in hands-on hobbies like photography. A skilled Tabla player, he used to play the classical Indian drum at his local church in Brickfields every Sunday. Religion and spirituality play a significant role in his life.
In 2010, Raja Kumar was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that affects the blood. He is doing his best to remain upbeat and cheerful and to get as much enjoyment as he can with his family and friends.
Raja Kumar recalls the time he first learnt of his diagnosis as terrifying: “I didn’t want to be admitted to a hospital ward full of cancer patients, I wasn’t prepared to identify myself as one.” At the time, the disease had affected his spinal cord. This hampered his ability to walk, and he was confined to bed rest.
Helpless, angry and afraid
“I felt so helpless, angry and afraid”, recalls Raja Kumar. It was at this point that he was referred to his local community hospice by his doctor to receive palliative care from Hospis Malaysia along with the regular treatment he would get from his doctors at the hospital.
Palliative care aims to ensure that the patient lives his or her life well. One of its main goals is to make sure the patient is as distress-free as possible, whether it is because of pain or emotional problems.
With a smile on his face, Raymond, Mr Kumar’s physiotherapist says: “Raja Kumar took the mobility exercises I taught him very seriously. His diligence in practising those exercises daily eventually helped him to walk with the help of a walking frame. His once-distressed wife and children now feel more comfortable and able to care for him based on the carer support received as part of his palliative care.” He adds: “Look at Raja Kumar today – he is lively, looks sharp and is alert, and is confident!”
The highlight of the week
Raja Kumar used to spend his days at home alone when his family was out at work or school. He now attends weekly daycare sessions run by Hospis Malaysia. “Attending Day Care is the highlight of the week for me. I really look forward to Thursdays when a volunteer picks me up and drops me off from my home,” he beams.
“Being able to socialise and meet others with similar issues as me helps fuel my positivity and good spirits. It gives me a sense of purpose, something to look forward to. I don’t hold the same reservations I once had with spending time in a room full of cancer patients,” shares Raja Kumar.
These days, Raja Kumar’s hobby is watching Tamil television drama series. The dramas he watches mostly revolve around family stories. He relates to them and feels that they hold good moral values and ideologies that he adopts as positive ways in how he wants to lead his family.
This article was first published by Hospis Malaysia in 2014. It is republished with permission. Find out more about the work of Hospis Malaysia on their website.