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13 with skin cancer


Photo credit: Photographer Dave Poh

23-year-old skin cancer survivor Mr Goh Chang Teck, had brushes with the disease since a young age of 13. We ask him how he felt upon hearing the diagnosis, and the things he is able to enjoy today as a result of winning the battle against cancer.

  1. When were you diagnosed and at what age?

As a Primary 5 student in 2005, strange sores and eruptions appeared all over my body, but I thought they were normal. It wasn’t until 2 years later at the age of 13 that I was diagnosed with Mycosis Fungoides and Pityriasis Lichenoides – both are forms of skin cancers that affects the lymph nodes. Over time, the sores and developed into fungus-like clusters of dried, reddish and scaly skin. These appeared mostly on my legs, coupled with white spots that appeared on my upper body.

Nevertheless, life carried on and I was thankful to be able to do everything normally, like everyone my age. But in 2013, two months prior to enlisting in the army, I was re-diagnosed with the above mentioned conditions. This time, however, I had progressed from Stage 1 to Stage 2A.

  1. What was your first reaction when you were told that you had cancer?

When the doctors finally broke the news that I was indeed suffering from cancer, my first reaction was: “Why me of all people?” I was lost, disgusted, disappointed, and guilty.

Lost because everything I planned before graduating from polytechnic had all gone down the drain. Disgusted because I couldn’t take it in my stride my body looked and felt this way. Disappointed because I wouldn’t be able to serve National Service, and be judged by people around me for not having done so. And finally, guilty, because I had to be another burden to my parents when I could have signed on upon enlisting in the army.

But all was not lost, because I had hope. I found strength in my family and close friends, who constantly gave words of encouragement and physical and emotional support during moments when I felt the treatments weren’t working out well. You get a heightened sense of gratefulness when you realise the extent that some people would go to just to see you happy and strong!

  1. What are the things you are able to do now as a result for winning the battle against cancer?

I wouldn’t say that I have won the battle against cancer because I am simply fighting a battle in which I am stronger. I’m taking every opportunity to make sure that I have a constant advantage over my worst enemy, such as my friends and family. On that note, I’m still doing the things that I love to do, such as running. But more importantly, I am able to spend time with my loved ones!

  1. Can you share anything about donating to the Run For Hope cause?

I think about donations the same way you think about sharing good things like delicious snacks and lobangs! I believe that if you are able to spend two hours walking around shopping malls to shop for the latest deals, you can similarly challenge yourself with a new fitness goal by starting out with a 10km run-walk at Run For Hope 2017 while contributing to cancer research!

Chang Teck will be participating in Run For Hope 2017. Join him and thousands of other survivors to raise awareness and support for cancer research at http://tinyurl.com/zn6kqyd.

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