Healing wheels: 63-year-old lady from Thailand skates her way to cancer recovery - GulfToday

Healing wheels: 63-year-old lady from Thailand skates her way to cancer recovery


Cancer survivor Nongluck Chairuettichai, also known as Jeab, during a practice session.

Cruising on an empty Bangkok highway, 63-year-old Nongluck Chairuettichai -- the oldest member of Thailand's longboard national team -- says taking up the sport set her on the road to recovery from breast cancer.


Diagnosed a decade ago, Nongluck -- who goes by the nickname Jeab -- had surgery and chemotherapy, her body withering to skin and bones.


Jeab first picked up a board out of curiosity, after watching her son Soteera whirl around the park.


While most novices initially tremble on the wooden plank, Jeab's good balance helped her push off with confidence.


The mother of two says she became "addicted" to the sport, which is typically dominated by teenage boys.


canc4 Jeab walks up an unfinished highway ramp during a practice session in Bangkok.


She quickly became known in the capital's small longboarding community and was competing in tournaments within months.


Last year, Jaeb qualified for Thailand's national longboard team -- the oldest member ever to join the squad.


 'Don't wait to be cool'


Every day Jaeb searches for new skate spots around Bangkok -- a traffic-clogged metropolis with limited terrain for board sports.


On a closed section between two freeways, she and her son stretch before strapping on safety gear.


canc3 She is seen putting on kneepads as her son Soteera makes a run during a practice session in Bangkok.


She tucks into a half-crouch on her board, rendering her body more streamlined to whizz faster downhill.


At first, many other skateboarders, and even her friends, tried to discourage her from pursuing the sport but she continued until she won acceptance.

Only her family was supportive.


Soteera says watching his mother battle cancer made him realise how strong she is.


"I'm worried about her because she's old, but being too worried until she cannot do anything is not a good way to care for someone," he tells AFP.


"She has to live her life."


canc2 Nongluck Chairuettichai, also known as Jeab, is seen braking during a practice session in Bangkok.


Today, Jeab appears to follow the philosophy tattooed on her calf: "Don't wait to be cool."


Rocking trendy owlish frames, she hikes up the highway for another spin downhill.


At tournaments, she does not focus on breaking speed records -- the goal is peace of mind.


"I skate for my happiness," Jeab says. That's all and that's enough."

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