Seven years ago, violinist Endang Hyder practically survived cancer. Today, she has to return to treatment again, but no-one will be around to look after her children and elderly parents while she battles cancer for the second time.
The violinist, whose real name is Ell Zain Hyder, has less than a month to find a caregiver who will look after her family while she focuses on recovery yet again. But she could not afford the steep fees and had in the past month resorted to performing for her thousands of fans online in a bid to raise funds.
“I need to be super healthy, strong, and not die before my parents and kids,” she told Coconuts in a recent interview. “I know this sounds funny but this has been going in my mind all of these years because they just have me … and I have to do this.”
Nearly every other day, Ell has been performing online covers of pop hits instead of her usual Malay tunes. But she is still far away from reaching her goal of about RM 8,000 (US$2,000). It costs an average of RM20 (US$4.80) per hour to engage a caregiver in Malaysia, and Ell needs someone for two whole months.
“If my viewers like my performances, I wish they can tip me, whatever [amount] they want,” she said. “I prefer that people engage me for future performances or events if they wish to give a big amount.”
Thousands have watched Ell on YouTube performing covers of hits like Girls Like You by Maroon 5 and even Gurenge from the anime Demon Slayer. She took three to four days to learn each song before uploading her covers on Youtube – impressive considering that her repertoire mostly consisted of Malay classics such as songs by Siti Nurhaliza or the late Sudirman.
Her fans love her as well. In such a short time, Ell made a “very meaningful achievement” of attaining 100,000 subscribers on her channel – something that has never happened since she picked up the violin in her teenage years. But that is still not enough for the single parent to afford a caregiver for her three children, aged 4 to 9, as well as her elderly parents. Her father even had his legs amputated due to diabetes.
Since the pandemic began, the Perak-based violin instructor had not been able to perform on a stage like she used to and had been baking at home to supplement her income. Adding on to her woes was the doctor confirming in January that the cancer was active again, and found a tumor in her nose.
Ell was in 2014 diagnosed with early-stage carcinoma that affected her blood vessels. She went through chemotherapy and radiotherapy for months before the doctor declared that the cancer was no longer active, although that did not mean she was completely cancer-free. When Ell goes for treatment at the Hospital Pantai starting April 12, she has to go for surgery and chemotherapy.
“This year, the doctor found a tumor at the tip of my nose,” Ell said, adding: “I would need to undergo surgery to remove the tumor, so I can continue to care for my parents and kids in the future.”
Ell plans to cover the TikTok-popular song At My Worst by Pink Sweats and Michael Buble’s Sway in the coming weeks.
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This article, Ahead of cancer treatment, violinist raises funds for family care through virtual concerts, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.