Blog entry: Diary of a Long Walk to Freedom from Cancer

Harjinder Singh, an active Sikh social worker in Malaysia, was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer in 2013. He is now back and about, rebuilding his life. “The energy has built up back. I would say 85%,” he tells Asia Samachar. This blog entry captures some of his trials and tribulations.

| Editor’s Pick | Malaysia | 9 May 2017 | Asia Samachar |
ACTIVE VOLUNTEER: Harjinder SIngh and his family

By Word Of A Singh

On the 3rd November 1970, Mr Therashan Singh and his wife were blessed with a son named Harjinder Singh in Buntong, Perak and was then brought up in Penang.

Veer Harjinder tied a knot with an incredibly gorgeous lady named Sarvinder Kaur from Perai, Pulau Pinang in the year 1995.In the year 1998, Veer Harjinder and Phenji Sarvinder were blessed with their very first child named Gursimran Kaur. In the year 2002, they were blessed once again with a daughter named Bhavenjeet Kaur followed by a son named Naamdev Singh in 2004, a daughter named Kesminder Kaur in 2005 and followed by the youngest child of the family, Amritleen Kaur in 2008. In short, they were blessed with four beautiful Shehzaadis’ and a handsome Shehzadaa! Veer Harjinder is an active member of SNSM [Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia] and he is even a president of Penang’s SNSM branch.

10th April 2013- “You have to be back, no matter what, ok?”

The ulcer at the small intestines burst and the poison from it started to spread to every part of Veer Harjinder’s body. It all started with gastritis and it slowly became severe. His stomach started to bloat and it eventually got hard as a stone. It became worse when he was on his treatment in one of the government hospitals in Seberang Jaya. The doctors would give an injection and send him home. That’s it! He was then admitted in the same government hospital in Seberang Jaya. After a couple of days being admitted in the hospital, at around 3am, he saw a ray of light and he could hear someone telling him, “Nikaljaa ehto,etho chaljaa!”. He got up immediately and contacted his father to get him discharged. He was then rushed to one of the private hospitals in Penang Island, Hospital Lam Wah Ee. He was then examined by the doctors on the spot. The doctors did scoping and discovered the actual matter. There was ulcer at the small intestines and it actually burst and the poison from the ulcer began spreading to every part of his body and he had to go through a major operation. Our dearest Veer had only 20% of his life in him.


He had low chances for living. The doctors eventually gave up on him and said that it would be the best if the members of the family visit him for the very last time. Phenji Sarvinder and Veer Harjinder’s parents were heartbroken when they got to know about this. But, Phenji Sarvinder stood strong and believed that Veer Harjinder will come back for the sake of his kids. The kids need him. Phenji Sarvinder needs him. Everyone needs him! Veer’s father, Mr. Therashan Singh asked the doctors if there are any other options instead of letting him go. The doctor stated that there is an option where he has to go for surgery but there would be two huge risks. It’s either he might just die during the surgery or if the surgery is a success, he would receive food through the tube. Mr Therashan asked the doctors to proceed with the surgery. Veerji was unconscious during that time. He could only remember signing the documents. Phenji Sarvinder whispered to Veerji, “you have to come back for your family who are waiting for you no matter what, ok?’. Veerji nodded his head.

Harjinder Singh when undergoing chemotheraphy

When the surgery was going on, the news somehow started to spread to all his close friends and family members and all of them arrived at the hospital. There were around 80 to 90 people waiting outside the operation theatre reciting Chaupai Sahib continuously. Then, a Gianiji from Gurdwara Sahib Kulim and Veer Paramjeet Singh came to the hospital and Gianiji did an Ardaas. As soon as Gianiji was saying the Jaiikaara, the door of the operation theatre opened. One of the doctors came out and said, “What did I do? How I did? I don’t know but, the surgery is a success and Harjinder is absolutely fine.”

Dhan Guru Maharaj!

Veerji was then shifted to the ICU and one by one went into the ICU to have a look at him. They were all relieved to see that he was doing fine. Phenji Sarvinder and one of her daughters touched his hand. He was unconscious but he responded a little bit.

9th June 2016- Fourth stage Malignant Mesenchymal Tumour.

In the year 2016, Veer Harjinder had a lump on his shoulder. His family members thought the lump was just a normal thing. Sooner or later, the lump started to turn red in colour as it was growing bigger day by day. He went for a few check ups and the doctor suggested that he should get a biopsy test and MRI scanning done. Veerji was diagnosed with fourth stage Malignant Mesenchymal Tumor. As soon as Phenji Sarvinder heard about this, she was shocked. How can the doctor say this easily?
It’s hard to believe isn’t it?

Veer Harjinder and Phenji Sarvinder’s eldest daughter, Gursimran Kaur who is currently studying in one of the universities in Selangor was unaware about this. Ten days later, Gursimran Kaur received a text from one of friends:

“I am very sorry to hear about your dad that he is diagnosed with cancer.”

“Do you even know what are you talking about my dad?”, Gursimran Kaur asked.

“Maybe I heard it wrongly”, her friend replied.

Gursimran Kaur immediately contacted her mom and told about it. She tried to dig the truth from her mom but her mom ended up saying, “I will call you back in a while”

After a while, Phenji Sarvinder called and asked Gursimran Kaur from where she got this news. Gursimran Kaur stated that she received it from one of her friends. Phenji Sarvinder stated that it was actually true that Veer Harjinder was suffering from cancer and she didn’t want to inform Gursimran Kaur first as finals were around the corner and she wanted her to be back home during Raya holidays. Phenji Sarvinder also stated that she actually informed Shalini who is Gursimran Kaur’s roommate first and warned her not to let the cat out of the bag.

Gursimran Kaur was so heartbroken. She couldn’t control her emotions and she kept on crying. It was tough for her at that time as finals were around the corner. She couldn’t stop thinking about it. She was devastated.

31st July 2016- Final Walk to Freedom from Cancer.

On the 31st July 2016, Veer Harjinder was at home with his wife and kids. At around 12am, he went to the toilet and he started feeling dizzy. All in a sudden, the tumor on his shoulder exploded and puss started draining out into the sink. He was bleeding profusely. Everything started to get dark in front of him. He passed out. Phenji Sarvinder found him unconscious in the toilet.

She panicked!

She ran to get help from neighbours. Two men from the neighbourhood helped to carry Veer Harjinder from the toilet to the back seat of the car and drove him to Hospital Seberang Jaya to clot the blood as it was bleeding profusely.

The doctors managed to clot the blood which was profusely draining out from the tumor.

On the 2nd August, Veer Harjinder had to go for a surgery at Penang GH. The growth on his shoulder was quite deep. The doctors from the plastic surgery department had to help out in the surgery as they had to take the skin from the thigh and patch it on the shoulder. Veer Harjinder couldn’t walk for a few days because of it.The surgery was a success but the cancer cells were yet in his body. Sanggat started doing programmes in the Gurdwaras’ for Veer Harjinder’s wellbeing
Veer Harjinder had to go for six cycles of chemotherapy. God only knows how much of pain did our dearest Veer went through during the chemotherapy. Right after completing the six cycles of chemotherapy sessions, he had to go for a PET CT scanning which will confirm whether he is already free from cancer or not. After scanning, he got very busy with the 26th Penang Mini Samelan. Right after the Samelan, he received the news that he is free from cancer.

Our dearest Veer is back fit and fine!

It was a long walk to freedom from cancer, isn’t it?

Mehervaan Sahib Mera Mehervaan.

See original entry at Word Of a Singh (7 May 2017) here.


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website:]


Penang gurdwara workshop on stress, depression and suicide (Asia Samachar, 24 March 2017)

Battling cancer with joy (Asia Samachar, 3 Aug 2015)