June 14, 2024

In a world where societal norms often dictate a woman’s path, there are those who defy expectations, challenge stereotypes, and carve out their own destinies. Dr. Melissa, a lecturer at Unimas, is one such woman. Her journey is not just about personal achievement but also about breaking barriers, advocating for change, and empowering others along the way.

Dr. Melissa’s story begins with adversity and resistance from her own family. Despite excelling academically, like many other Asian families, Dr. Melissa was also a victim of patriarchy, where women’s abilities were limited by their gender. Yet, she persisted, securing a scholarship from the Malaysian Government for her Degree and then pursuing her passion for science, ultimately obtaining another PhD scholarship from Japan.

However, Dr. Melissa’s motivation extends beyond personal success. It stems from a deeply personal experience—her mother’s battle with breast cancer. This pivotal moment ignited a passion for cancer awareness and advocacy, leading her to establish initiatives that have impacted more than 2000 women’s lives in underserved communities in Sarawak.

Her dedication to community service extends beyond borders from Sarawak to the Asia Pacific region. Dr. Melissa’s outreach program changes thousands of lives in rural communities such as Sungai Kut, Buduk Nur in Ba Kelalan, Kampung Rantau Panjang, Ulu Yong, and more (https://youtu.be/fni3hN1FyOc?si=pcgMiNDsqcHIN0RS). She has also become an advocate for health equity, serving on global committees and collaborating with international partners like the Union for International Cancer control and Rare Cancers Australia to make cancer care and treatment accessible for underserved communities.

Her genuine community service, especially in cancer awareness, leads her to receive the Prof. Yoo Hang Kim Young Woman Scientist Award from the Association of Academies and Societies of Science in Asia (AASA). This award allows Dr. Melissa to attend the Multinational Association of Supportive Care conference in France. Here, Dr Melissa will present her abstract “Gaps and challenges of cancer care in a multi-ethnic population in Sarawak, Borneo”. It provides her an avenue to meet other renowned scientists around the world and probably helps to expand her role and contribution in research.

Dr. Melissa’s journey isn’t just about professional accomplishments. It’s about challenging cultural norms and societal expectations. From defying her father’s opinions to challenging gender stereotypes, she has navigated obstacles with resilience and determination.

In a society still plagued by gender biases and stereotypes, Dr. Melissa’s story serves as a beacon of hope and empowerment. It highlights the transformative power of education, determination, and empathy. As she continues to blaze trails and challenge conventions, she reminds us that true progress comes from embracing diversity, empowering others, and striving for a more equitable world..
She reminds all lovely women out there that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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