KUCHING, July 6: Having noticeable thin hair, slight skin discoloration and in need of daily injections before meals, 20-year-old Emelyne Carmen Ho has received countless prejudiced look and weird questions on her ‘difference’.
To the many sales personnel who have tried to promote various hair care products to her, the first-year university student studying pharmacy would reply, “it is genetic.”
Don’t get her wrong, she has no intention of hiding her sickness or the permanent side effect of her previous bone-marrow transplant. On the contrary, she is writing a book to tell the whole world about her sickness and how she fought it her whole life.
Titled “The journey to becoming fearless, a story of Hope, Courage & Strength” the courageous and cheerful girl relates her experience in fighting her sickness and how she overcomes her fear.
“I still have fear. I am not 100 per cent fearless, it is impossible. But I learnt how to overcome my fear,” Ho told DayakDaily in an interview a few days before her book launch scheduled on July 8 at Waterfront Hotel.
When met, she was placing handmade bookmarks on each corner of all 400 copies of the book. When requested to purchase the hardcover copy before the launch, the charming girl kindly rejected, but she accepts pre-order. The book, priced at RM60 each, is only available after the launch. All proceeds from the sale of the limited copies will go to charity.
Before the interview began at a cafe at India Street, Emelyne ordered an iced latte, with no sugar. Her daily life involves calculating sugar intake, and she is very cautious of her dietary restrictions. After recovering from thalassemia, she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 13. Ever since, she needs an insulin injection before each meal.
“I dared not let people know before this. I inject inside the car or inside the toilet. I am embarrassed to eat in public places because my parents will order special meals for me,” she said. She also stopped wearing a scarf to cover her hair.
The girl related how other diabetes patients from the same Type 1 diabetes camp would just skip injections due to the prejudice or discrimination of others.
“People think we are different. I don’t blame them, everyone will judge at one point,” she said. Hence, Ho hoped to be the voice of other diabetes patients who suffer similar prejudice, to stand up to let people understand about their sickness.
That was one of the main reasons that motivated her to pen this book — an autobiography of the young woman and to encourage others who have similar experiences to overcome their fear.
Diagnosed with thalassemia at the age of two which required many blood transfusions despite such a young age, Ho said she could not remember much of these treatments.
But she remembered the difficult time after her bone marrow transplant and when she received medications for the rejection. Her lessening hair and growing size due to the medication had made her a target for bullying in school.
Parents got involved and the bullies subsequently apologised to the 7-year-old Ho. The same former classmates will be attending her book launch.
And how did the young woman who has been fighting sickness most of her life overcome her fear? Her personality and her support system definitely counted.
The only daughter of an accountant stressed that her strong support group, which are her parents who are always there for her, and her godfather Datuk Wee Hong Seng. She did not forget to include her best friend of more than 13 years, who is like a sister to her.
Get a copy of the book to learn her story. The book can be purchased at Fabriko at India Street after the launch. — DayakDaily