An ordinary man with an extraordinary story
It started out as a high fever that would not subside. So, Mr. Najmus Ahmed's family had him admitted to a hospital in Bangladesh. Thinking it was just dengue, he remained optimistic. But a few days later, in March 2011, he was transferred to Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) in Singapore.
He awoke in a haematology ward and he said recalling, "I was clueless when I met Dr. Teo. But he informed me that I had the 'best' type of leukemia possible as it was the most treatable."
It was only after his first round of chemotherapy that reality sank in. "It finally hit me," he said. "I had leukemia. It was a shock." But Dr. Teo allayed his fears. "Dr. Teo was very open with me. He told me I was strong and that I could fight it. He said at 45 years of age, I would probably survive," Mr. Ahmed shared.
Although his treatment was going smoothly, it was not without side effects. The drugs also caused insomnia. He had depression midway through the treatment, but with the support of his son and his father, both of whom had travelled to Singapore to accompany him for the duration of his treatment, Mr. Ahmed pulled through. In fact, their support was so invaluable that he wrote a book about it – titled When Time Stops – where Mr. Ahmed talks about his heartfelt gratitude for his family's support and the fact that cancer can be beaten.
When his chemotherapy concluded in August 2011, Mr. Ahmed returned to Bangladesh. Taking the advice of Dr. Teo to lead a less stressful life, he left his previous job in a manufacturing firm and started his own corporate consulting firm where he is now able to have more relaxed hours.
Driven by a deep desire to see others battle cancer successfully, Mr. Ahmed started I Beat Cancer. What prompted the birth of the initiative was a newspaper clipping he had seen on his flight back to his home country.
"There was a small notice in the newspaper," Mr. Ahmed shared. "A young girl was asking for funds to battle the exact same kind of leukemia I had just recovered from." A deeply spiritual man, he did not take it to be mere coincidence. So he began speaking to friends, asking for donations, and finally, he raised enough money to purchase the drugs the girl required for a year's worth of treatment.
"Now she's married with her first child!" he said.
That's how a cancer survivor turned his weakness into strength and used that strength to help other cancer patients in need. Najmus Ahmed Albab is now the founder and trustee of Bangladesh Cancer Aid Trust (BANCAT).