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“You have to choose to love yourself. You have to choose gratitude. You have to choose to focus on the good things in your life instead of the bad things or the things you wish you had or things that other people have. And the more you focus on the good things in your life, the happier you’ll be.” – Chua Su Ean
1. Share with us a brief introduction of yourself such as where did you grow up, where are you from, what do you do for a living, etc.
I’m from Subang Jaya & Kuala Lumpur where I went to school and college. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and worked a full-time job. I was living life to the fullest, a very happy go lucky person with nothing to worry about in life.
I love travelling every year and visiting different parts of the world was my dream. It was only a year when I started to work that I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer stage 3 at the age of 24. And my world was completely turned upside down.
2. We heard about your battle with cancer. We’re sorry you had to go through it. How are you doing now?
In the weeks after the discovery of my cancer, I was running from one appointment to another. At the end of a sunny afternoon, I was in the car on my way home. I looked out of the car window and watched people walking to the train station going home from work.
I was no longer part of their world. They are alive; they had errands to run, plans for the future. As for me, my future was death. Not only I was afraid of dying, but now I realise I’m terrified that it will be painful. Fast forward to 2021, I’m happy and feeling healthy as ever!
When I was diagnosed, I knew I had to get rid of refined sugar, refined flour, processed food, junk food and everything else that is unhealthy. Food would become a source of tension and a constant burden in my everyday life. Eating out was a big NO for me as the food outside is just full of all the bad stuff.
Family gatherings went from fun to stressful, going out with friends became even more stressful (“No, I can’t eat this, I can’t eat that, I can’t eat anything”). Each invitation, each plan to go out makes me feel exhausted and stressed out.
However, I am slowly starting to take this as a challenge. I didn’t know how to cook before I was diagnosed and now, I can cook to save a life. It took time, but I’ve learned how to make delicious healthy food that I and everyone can enjoy.
When the pandemic happened, I started to sell homemade nut butter and nourishing salads. I wanted people to enjoy food with the least ingredients. Our nut butter has only 1 or two ingredients. No refined sugar, no sweeteners, no preservatives, no MSG. It only contains good stuff. Our salads are made with mostly organic produce, homemade dressings, no hormones/ no antibiotics, no MSG and etc.
This healthy food business has become my source of income and my happiness as I’m able to share healthy food with people. You can find me at @healthysu_kitchen for wholesome goodness.
3. Tell us more about your cancer journey and how it changed your life.
It all started last year March 2019 when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer stage 3. Everything fell apart. My mind was in a mess and my heart was shattered. From that point onwards, I knew that my life would change completely.
I just couldn’t grasp how much back then. But now I know that a life with cancer changes everything. It has changed my life for the better in ways that I could never have imagined. I now look at life through a different set of lenses. I had surgery to remove the tumours on both sides of my ovaries.
Completed 4 chemotherapy cycles over the past 4 months only to find out later that there were cancer cells still remaining in my body, but this time at a different location. I felt completely defeated. As a result, my oncologist wanted me to do more chemotherapy. But I was discouraged by what he had to offer.
The miserable past few months of chemotherapy that I had to endure started to race through my mind. I could foresee the turmoil of going through the treatment all over again and knew I wouldn’t have the strength to do it the second time. After thoughtful research and consideration, and despite the pressure from my oncologist, I chose a different path. I’ve decided to go with integrative and natural therapies to restore my health.
“I’ve come to realize that cancer has taught me many things about myself and about life that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. As much as cancer has taken away from me, it has paid me back in life lessons that pushed me to grow and re-examine my life.”
I have discovered ways of leading a more meaningful and fulfilling life. After cancer, I have found my happiness in helping others and my passion for cooking. It brings me joy when people are able to enjoy and experience real healthy food.
Life is uncertain but I choose to enjoy each moment of my life, connecting with the people I love and finding joy every day. Do what I can, have faith that things will work out and let go of useless worries. None of us knows what will happen tomorrow, but what we can do is live well. Each and every day. I have learned that life will never be the same again but life is worth living.
I’ve decided long ago that cancer would not control my life. I will control my life. And I promised myself that I would learn from these challenges, help others and appreciate each day. My mom has always reminded me that as long as I wake up without any pain, it’s a good day.
Heck yeah, there’s always something to be grateful for. The knowledge and experiences I’ve gained and the ability to help educate and help others towards better health has been very fulfilling and rewarding. Live fully and with purpose and intention❤️
4. What lifestyle changes did you make during this journey?
It was devastating to think this would be something I would suffer with for the rest of my life. That wasn’t good enough for me. I was determined to live my life to the fullest, not looking over my shoulders to see if my cancer is catching up with me but looking forward to each day that I receive. I found peace in knowing that while I cannot control how long I live, I can control how I live.
I started to change my lifestyle habits by learning how to look at things in a positive way, changing my sleeping habits, practising self-care routines, incorporating daily exercises and making sure that I don’t have unnecessary stress in my life. And most importantly, learning how to maintain a healthy diet. I eat healthy today because I want to be healthy tomorrow.
As I started searching for alternative methods on how to heal my own body and learnt that with the proper nutrients given and healthy lifestyle habits, our bodies can heal themselves. I decided to completely change my diet and eliminate all kinds of processed food. I also removed dairy and meat from my diet as it’s too acidic to the body.
And most importantly, eliminating all sugar whatsoever as cancer feeds on sugar and causes it to grow. I began eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, smoothies, whole grains, nuts and seeds and beans that were grown organically.
5. How did you develop a great sense of resilience or strength during this time?
I always believe that I’m not alone in this journey because the battle belongs to the Lord. As I journey through this cancer life—through the most painful and exhausting times, I began to trust God when all else fails. Trusting God is more than a feeling; it is a choice to have faith in what He says even when my circumstances are different.
I always believe that God is bigger than my cancer. God’s answer is that I am not a victim but a victor. God has said that, “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).” My sufferings were definitely awful but I had so many advantages.
Even though I wasn’t tolerating the treatment very well, I had everything that I needed – the love and support from my family and friends, access to every medical treatment, a home with a comfy bed and amazing food. I had it easy in comparison to those for whom their entire existence, from birth until death would be about survival and suffering.
“There’s always something to be grateful for.”
6. What do you enjoy doing during your free time? Interests/hobbies?
In my free time, I enjoy looking for new healthy recipes to cook. Cooking is the best hobby that I have. I love to cook because I know exactly what ingredients I put into my own body. When I cook, I can ensure that my family and I eat fresh, wholesome meals.
I also love to practice yoga as it helps me to relax my mind and the flexibility of my body. It has also helped me to build more confidence and have proper breathing control.
7. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
It’s about the way we eat our food. Have you heard the saying “you are what you eat”? This is so true. Eating isn’t just about satisfying hunger. Good nutrition is linked to a happy and healthy life.
The food that we eat should be rich in nutrients, minerals, and vitamins to keep us healthy. In today’s society, many people are eating foods that are highly processed and do not include enough fruits and vegetables. We need to eat a more well-balanced diet to prevent diseases.
There is a common misconception regarding healthy eating. Many people find that it is impossible to change our food habits or follow a healthy diet plan because of the options that limit ourselves. However, the truth is, healthy eating doesn’t mean that you have to eat grilled chicken breast and vegetables every day.
There are plenty of healthy foods options on how we can make our meals that you can enjoy while still being healthy. Therefore, in order to sustain a healthy diet, variety is key to staying satisfied. We need to renew the way we think about food and not conform to what our culture or surroundings might say about food. The transformation occurs when we are able to correct the way we think therefore renewing our choices of food.
If you need some inspiration for healthy meals, you can check out my Instagram at @healthysu_. I have over 50 recipes of different meals to choose from to ensure your meals are never boring again.
8. What is the best life advice you have for our readers?
My wake-up call inspired me to take better care of myself and live my life to the fullest. And most importantly, it has taught me to listen to my own body. By the grace of God, I’m still cancer-free, strong and healthy, and in the best shape of my life. On my worst days, I would just count my blessings—about all the things I am grateful for.
There are so many things to be grateful for. Waking up from bed without feeling any pain at all is a true blessing for me. Being able to sleep well at night is a blessing as well. And I’m just so thankful that I learnt to change the way I think about myself.
And gratitude brings joy, contentment and fulfilment, all wonderful things. But you can’t just flip a switch. It takes time and practice. It’s a daily mental exercise. And I still do it today. Life is short. Be happy and thankful. If you focus on gratitude, you will receive happiness and if you focus on health, you will receive energy and longevity.
We hope Su’s story has inspired you the way it inspires us! To always look at the positive things in life and never give up despite the immense struggles we face on a daily basis.
Do you have your own story to tell? Drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Su’s Instagram: @chuasuean_
Su’s Healthy Online Shop: @healthysu_kitchen