At 7am, along with cancer survivors, actor Arja Lee, the public, and staff of the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM), Mahendran started his final leg of the west Malaysia journey at LRT Universiti.
The team of 50 people concluded their walk at Dataran Merdeka and had a ‘Malaysian breakfast’ (nasi lemak) at the curb of the Independence Square. The walk, aimed to raise funds for NCSM, increase the public’s awareness of cancer, as well as meet cancer patients along the journey, will continue in west Malaysia (Pan Borneo) in December.
“Since September 2015, I’ve been walking alone from the north to south of west Malaysia,” says Mahendran. “NCSM has supported me through my journey, but this is the first time that everyone has come together to join me in person.
“It felt like 1,000 people were walking with me, and I feel really proud, happy, and supported.”
Inspired by books and stories of people walking across the world to raise funds for a cause, Mahendran started his journey at the border of Thailand. “For every step that cancer patients can’t make, I’m walking it for them,” he says. “The many patients I met along the way made me realise the importance of early detection.
“Early detection is also the focus of NCSM, a charity organisation that empowers Malaysians in preventing, detecting and coping with cancer.”
Each day, he walks up to 16 hours, carrying essentials – food, water, clothes, cameras, and phones – that can add up to 16 kilograms.
“It can get incredibly hot – I’ve already had to replace three mobile phones and keep wearing out my shoes,” he says. “Some mornings, I’m so exhausted I can barely get up – but I tell myself to keep going for those who are affected by cancer, and I’m off.”
Through rain and shine, Mahendran barely stops in his walk, unless it’s to visit cancer patients in hospitals: “They are a great inspiration to me – their stories are funny, sad and touching, and I cry with some of them.
“Many have pledged to me to stay strong and keep fighting, and all of us are in a Whatsapp group – I greet them every day, and we update each other on our own journeys.”
Before Mahendran resumes his walk in west Malaysia, Mahendran is undergoing treatment and physiotherapy for his injuries. “It’s not just my knees and ankles – my back also hurts constantly from carrying around my backpack.
“The walk in Borneo, with its terrains and uneven landscape, is going to be extra difficult. I need to train up for that.”
Mahendran aims to raise RM20,000.00 by the end of his walk through the People Giving page at: http://bit.ly/2cYqrld.
The funds will be donated to NCSM, which for 50 years has been educating the public about cancer, providing cancer and health screening at subsidised rates, as well as complimentary care and support programmes for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.