Survivor is on mission to beat cancer

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 August, 2011, 12:00am


Eliza Fok Ho Yi-wah heard the tenderest words from her husband after she discovered she had breast cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy.

'He said 'If you lose your hair, I will shave my head,'' recalled Fok, the new president of the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation and wife of tycoon and Hutchison Whampoa boss Canning Fok Kin-ning.

'He also said 'I don't know what will happen next, but I will walk with you through the toughest three months of chemotherapy.'

Mrs Fok first discovered she had cancer in 2003 and likened her time in a sick bed to torture. It was her husband's support that kept her going. She was given injections every three weeks during chemotherapy. As her immune system was compromised, she avoided crowded places.

But as a sports lover she knew she had to have physical exercise. So she exercised early in the morning when the streets were empty. Friends offered tips on a healthy diet.

'I walked the streets in the early morning when nobody was out. By the time they all came out, I had finished,' she said.

Having beaten cancer, Fok is now on a mission to raise public awareness about it. The foundation opened a new health centre in Fortress Hill in May, and already has 1,300 bookings.

She believes her message will be more effective as she speaks from personal experience.

'I will tell my own story, like what to look out for, what to eat, how to face it. The strength from peers is very important,' she said.

Fok suggested that women above 40 should have breast health checks every year, because the risk increases as they grew older. Sixty per cent of cancer patients are aged 40 to 59.

Breast cancer has been the top cancer killer for local women since 1994. Reasons include a lack of exercise, work pressure and an unhealthy lifestyle, according to a foundation report. Another report will be released next month, with data and details on 5,000-plus breast cancer patients and those who recovered.

Fok said the government keeps record of all cancer cases in the city, but lacks insight into breast cancer.

A walking campaign wih women dressed all in pink will be held in October to raise public awareness.