Ex-marine's fight against cancer

BRUNEI - Cancer does not discriminate when it comes to age or physical fitness, so it is important to remain positive and not to feel like a victim.

That was the message of former marine Redzky Fadzillah Mahmud, 35, who was diagnosed with small cell pelvic mass cancer last year.

He refuses to give in to the disease, and has chosen to lead a fruitful and active life, rather one of miserable isolation and despair. He also likes to run.

Redzky, from Kampung Salambigar, says running has always been a passion of his, and that he refused to let being diagnosed with stage IV cancer stop him doing what he loves.

Despite undergoing his ninth chemotherapy treatment, he ran in the Standard Chartered Half-Marathon 2013 last Sunday and finishing the 10km race.

Yet when he was first diagnosed with stage four cancer when the disease has spread to the limit of what the assessment measures at Jerudong Park Medical Centre, he says he could barely stand, much less walk or run.

Before he took part in the half-marathon he consulted doctors and dieticians to make sure he was in good enough condition. He also popped down to the gym.

"One week before the race, I went to the gym to run for 20 minutes. That's all the preparation I did before the big day," Redzky told The Brunei Times. "I was glad that my body didn't give up on me and I managed to finish the 10km race."

Redzky, a former lieutenant in the Royal Brunei Navy and a naval band officer, participated in Brunei Darussalam International Tattoo 2011, which was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. He was also an active military diver, and has visited dive sites at Pilong Rocks and American and Australian wrecks at Serasa.

He gets endless support from his family especially his mother, whom he says has always been there for him and friends in Brunei and the United Kingdom, including members of the Royal Marines Band Service the musical wing of the Royal Navy. "I am participating in the marathon to prove that life is worth fighting for," Redzky said before the race.

"Cancer does not limit a person diagnosed with cancer as long as they are willing to fight."

Given the opportunity, he said he would like to hold charity events to raise money for people in need. And he said he received a great deal of support from social media users when he posted a cancer support video on Facebook.

When he was first diagnosed with cancer, Redzky said he made up his mind to keep busy and enrolled on a number of courses to distract himself from negative thoughts.

Among the courses he took was a class on tailoring in Kiulap, where he discovered a talent for sewing. "I always thought sewing was boring but it isn't," he says smiling.

He even designed his sister's nikah (solemnisation) ceremony dress and said he was satisfied with his creation.

Redzky also took French classes for three months at Alliance Francaise and is currently doing an Advanced Diploma in business management at Laksamana College of Business.

He also said he has been working on getting closer to Allah (SWT) and that his greatest feat was to perform Umrah on his own last January.

"My message for all cancer patients is to keep fighting, one thing at a time. Don't give up."