If there’s one thing Chek Jamal loves doing, it’s working with his hands. An engineer by profession, his pride and joy is the kitchen he built entirely with re-purposed IKEA furniture. It includes a large multipurpose storage cupboard to store his wife’s vast collection of utensils. He speaks proudly of how he built the kitchen for his wife who loves to cook. Halimah, his other half, is sitting beside and mimicking him; pausing when he does and returning a smile when he grins or laughs. They obviously have a very strong relationship.
In 2011, Chek Jamal was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), a form of brain cancer. Due to his illness, Chek Jamal is only capable of limited self-care. He is confined to bed or chair rest for more than 50 percent of his waking hours. As his pillar of strength, Halimah has stayed by his side to support him every step of the way. She has also taken over as family breadwinner by making and selling freezable Malaysian teatime snacks, and learned to drive to take over driving duties when he no longer could.
A year after his diagnosis, Chek Jamal’s family began to receive palliative care. His palliative care nurses have helped the family better understand the best ways to care for him. They also helped them with Chek Jamal’s psychosocial issues. “I received so much support from the palliative care team. The physical therapist taught my husband strengthening and maintenance exercises so his muscles are active and do not degenerate. The nurses are so caring and friendly,” Halimah says gratefully. “They quickly became part of the family.”
Chek Jamal continues to keep himself occupied by building furniture and occasionally working on his car engine. He is as content as can be, surrounded by love, support and peace.