No mountain too high for amputee on a mission

Determined: Tong waving the Malaysian flag at the Everest Base Camp.

KUALA LUMPUR: Amputee Melvin Tong, 30, has faced many challenges in his life, but nothing has been tougher than trekking up to the Everest Base Camp.

It was snowing heavily and his crutches could not grip the slippery ground properly.

At some narrow stretches where any missteps would mean plunging into ravines hundred of metres deep, Tong had to trudge along sideways.

Worse still, he was suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

But in spite of his poor health and harsh weather conditions, Tong, who lost his right leg when he was diagnosed with fibrosarcoma (a cancerous tumour in tissue found at the end of bones of the arms or legs) at the age of 17, managed to reach base camp on March 21.

"No matter how much you prepare, you cannot imagine what to expect until you are actually there. At one point, I was so tired that I thought I could never make it to the camp," he said.

Tong said he lumbered along with the encouragement of members of his group and the Nepali porters who accompanied them.

"It was slow but I reached the camp. I wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of the team," he said, adding that he did not have much time to concentrate on the beauty of the trek.

He and his group of 15 others trekked for a cause - in support of education for underprivileged children in Malaysia.

Tong said the amputation of his right leg had not stopped him from living his life to the fullest.

"I do not see myself as disabled and I believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

"It is the same thing, crutches or not. You shouldn't let your physical conditions stop you from doing anything," said Tong who became the first amputee to climb Mount Kinabalu five years ago.

Funds raised from the climb would go the Suka Society and Muslim Aid Foundation.

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