Striking gold for pink power

A bowling team of breast cancer survivors is proving that life can still be fun and fantastic with the right type of friends and support

14 Mar 2019 / 15:19 H.

THESE ladies from the Pink Power team can give any seasoned bowlers a run for their money.

A regular presence in a number of bowling tournaments, the Pink Power ladies are all members of the Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia’s (BCWA) bowling team.

Their presence at tournaments, especially with their pink shirts, attracts attention and also opens up a conversation about breast cancer.

The Pink Power team was established in 2010 by Puan Sri Datuk Akmal Abdul Salam, who is the patron of BCWA.

The team has been taking part in the Unity Bowling Carnival for the past six years, and Antabax has
been sponsoring the team for the past three.

BCWA president Ranjit Kaur explains why bowling is an ideal sport for those recovering from breast cancer surgery.

“Many women have their lymph nodes removed after breast surgery and that creates a risk later in life, such as lymphedema (swelling that is caused by build-up of lymph fluid),“ she says at a recent interview.

“With this activity, whether they play with their left or right hand, it helps create balance of movement and coordination, and strengthens the arm as well.”

Ranjit adds that participating in the sport also gives cancer fighters and survivors a chance to meet each other on a regular basis, and support each other.

Pink Power meets every fortnight, and often competes against other bowlers in league competitions.

The team also holds fundraising events for family and friends, working alongside other sports organisations.

Datuk Dina Rizal, chairman of Kelab Sukan SportsUnite, was approached by BCWA seven years ago to help the association organise one such tournament.

He was hesitant at first, as he had only organised junior bowling tournaments up to that point. But he changed his mind when they told him they were breast cancer survivors.

Dina said: “It hit a nerve because my sister-in-law who used to help look after my kids passed away from it. My heart melted and I said okay.”

Chang Su San is one the founding members of Pink Power.

She has been a BCWA member since 2008, when she was first diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.

She came to know about BCWA through its patient support group, where trained members give support to new patients.

“I took up bowling after joining BCWA,” she says. “Our patron started this club for breast cancer survivors, and at that time, there were about 14 of us.”

Chang says though members may pull out of tournaments at any given time due to the nature of their disease, it is inspiring that some who are undergoing treatment still try to take part.

Noor Mazidah Abd Majid, the current Pink Power captain, joined the team in 2011.

“It was only in 2011 that we had proper coaching [sponsored] by Datuk Akmal.”

Noor Mazidah was fortunate to have her cancer detected early.

She happened to be passing by a booth where members of the public were taught to self-diagnose.

Once the lump was discovered, Mazidah entered treatment, and today is cancer-free.

Shahreen Hazaline was diagnosed while pregnant with her fourth baby in 2014.

It was while breastfeeding her third child, that she noticed a lump.

“I asked my gynaecologist if it was a stuck duct, or something like that,” she recalls but the lump was later diagnosed as stage three cancer.

She was pregnant when she underwent chemotherapy.

“The doctor chose medication that was suitable for pregnant women. The molecule of the medicine is big, and so it won’t penetrate the placenta [and] affect the baby.”

Shahreen eventually gave birth to a healthy, 3.8kg boy, and her cancer is currently in remission.

The BCWA wants to remind all women to get regular checkups.

Early detection and treatment goes a long way in helping patients recover and resume their lives.

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