It’s Tuesday, and I know your day is jam-packed with pending tasks, and with the workload, it’ll take ages to get to Friday. I’m certain some of you may be longing for some motivation or drive to get your day started.
If yes, then you have landed on the right platform. I’ll share a glimpse of an autobiography of Dr Kannan Pasamanickam, one of Malaysia’s prominent cardiologists entitled Joy, Challenges and Hope: My Life Journey, which revolves around the theme of “hope and optimism” that will surely exemplify you to the true definition of it.
Dr Kannan believes that “none of us will be able to overcome the problems that life throws at us” and enjoy its pleasures unless the two driving factors (hope and optimism) are prevalent.
In the greater macrocosm of the country’s social environment, his twin pillars of hope and optimism, imbibed and imbedded in the social milieu of small-town Muar, had enabled him to achieve much of what he set out to do.
With the persistence of optimism and hope he was able to manoeuvre through the restricted chances and hurdles to propel himself not just as a prominent and much sought-after clinical cardiologist and medical instructor, but also as an expert amateur gardener through his frequent writings in the local media.
Dr Kannan puts it eloquently: “Our neighbourhood was a microcosm of the Malaysian social fabric… We happily enjoyed ourselves together in good times, and we wholeheartedly helped our neighbours in bad times. That was the pinnacle of multiracial Malaya, which would later become Malaysia.”
Dr Kannan was diagnosed with myeloma at the age of 65, a life-threatening disease that he had battled well due to his trust in God and emotional support from his immediate and extended family, especially his wife Anjalai, children Arun and Mallini, sister Sunthari, and close friends.
With the support of his medical colleagues, he was successfully treated and healed. Dr Kannan has been able to continue his thriving social and professional life, as well as his first love which is helping his patients, thanks to this new lease on life.
Dr Kannan’s rational combination of hope and optimism, along with his hometown Muar’s rich social, cultural, and high-quality educational context, has helped him become someone from nothing. As a result, his life story is replete with lived experiences and difficulties, blending achievement with joy and spiritual urgings.
His hope and achievements in every aspect of life were largely formed by his humble, compassionate, hard-working, and economical parents, who were born into a conservative, middle-class, patriarchal, and religious household.
Not to mention his dedicated teachers at Saint Andrews’s highly disciplined primary and secondary Catholic schools, particularly Brother Robert O’ Sullivan of the secondary level, a legendary disciplinarian who was passionate about teaching English and whose grounding diction had long-term benefits. Many of Dr Kannan’s classmates and himself benefited from it in their future studies and professional pursuits, both locally and worldwide.
“It created the foundation for diction abilities,” Dr Kannan states, “which served me well as a debater in high school and college, as a university instructor, and during academic gatherings locally and abroad.”
Dr Kannan enrolled as a hostelite in one of the country’s top institutions, the English College in Johor Baru, to pursue his Form Sixth studies after completing his Senior Cambridge examinations.
Dr Kannan was finally free of his mother’s apron ties, and for the next two years, he lived in a rather disciplined hostel. This, together with the tough curriculum at the English College, didn’t stop him from forming a network of similar, happy relationships with his classmates and professors, including his first, short-lived love with a girl.
Dr Kannan’s ambition was to work as a doctor. He was thrilled to get accepted as a pioneer batch into the country’s famous medical school, the University of Malaya, in 1973.
This autobiography implies that, in addition to providing excellent medical training and treatment, the programme provided opportunities for many of them, including himself, to pursue post-graduate degrees in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. He lectured and treated patients at his alma university till 1994. One humorous chapter is devoted to his memories of exceptional patients and the life lessons he learned from them.
“Life as a doctor is emotionally and physically hard,” says Dr Kannan, adding that it’s also an emotional roller-coaster. However, the professional difficulties and satisfaction he obtains from serving and healing his patients are the source of his ultimate happiness. He attributes this to modern medicine’s incredible achievements.
Dr Kannan, who was also involved in the development of the country’s postgraduate medical training programmes, feels that we must embrace contemporary medicine.
Want to know more about Dr Kannan’s journey, you may purchase his autobiography at the MySkills Foundation (03-2691 6363, 013-338 3036, myskills.org.my), and it is also available on Shopee and Lazada at RM65.
All proceeds from the sale of Dr. Kannan’s book will be donated to the MySkills Foundation and Good Shepherd Services.