Muhammad Haziq Bin Ridzwan, survived Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia (ALL)

I’d always been a sportsman. Good at running, and a star hockey player. Marathons were a challenge I loved, and playing at the Hockey Nationals was a great source of pride for me. Even going to the gym came as natural to me as breathing.

I was always fit, always healthy – and I thought I always would be.

But on the 11th of September, 2013, my life was turned upside down.

At 6pm, I was a normal student. My greatest worry was my incomplete homework due the next day.

By 2am, homework was the furthest thing from my mind. I’d just been diagnosed with leukaemia, with only a 10% chance of survival.

From 3am onwards, my battle with cancer had begun.

Thirty needles in one arm, twenty-five in the other. Those needles were just a tiny portion of the artillery to be used in my war against leukaemia. The cancer was much more aggressive than any foe or opponent I’d ever faced on the sports field – I needed all the firepower I could get.

I soon found out that going through chemo is basically like walking through hell. Imagine the exhaustion you would feel after finishing a marathon – with absolutely no energy left in any part of your body. Imagine feeling like that every moment of every day. That was what chemo was like for me.

Four months of chemo left me in a terrible state. I needed a stem cell transplant to continue living. It was at this point that the doctor suggested we try a different approach – instead of just looking for a live bone marrow donor as we had done previously, we decided to look for a cord blood donor. Thankfully, we found one through the Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB).

I needed to go through three rounds of chemo and six rounds of radiotherapy just to prepare my body to accept the life-saving cord blood transplant. That was the worst pain and suffering I’ve ever experienced, and it isn’t an exaggeration to say that I nearly died. It was the most difficult marathon of my life – a true trial by fire.

Through it all, I continued to push myself. Taking each step towards recovery, no matter how small, to be an achievement to be celebrated.

Finally, I triumphed. Let me tell you, the day I left the hospital was the best day of my life.

30th January, 2016 was my second birthday. That date marked two amazing years of me being cancer-free. Surviving cancer has changed my perspective on life. I now appreciate even the smallest things that I once took for granted. Spending time with the ones I love, and putting a smile on people’s faces – I almost can’t believe how lucky I am that I’m still alive and able to do so. These are the things that are important to me now.

Cord blood saved my life, and I hope it will save the lives of many more.