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If I were born a few decades earlier and diagnosed with cancer, I might not have lived past my mid-twenties.

In June 2009, I was diagnosed with Diffuse B-cell Lymphoma, a kind of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  It was at stage-2 phase and was life-endangering as the cancerous cells were growing very rapidly. I was only 23 at that point, and as a university student, it never occurred to me before that I could have cancer. Many university students tend to have a feeling of invincibility because of the freedom and energy that they have. It was definitely something that took me by surprise.

Going through chemotherapy wasn’t a walk in the park. The initial stage of chemotherapy with nausea and vomiting after each cycle was unbearable. The complications extended to more psychological aspects, like losing your hair and muscle mass. It will just affect your overall state of mind. Nevertheless, I’m very glad to have the support of my friends and family, which made things a lot easier.

Although I’m currently considered well treated, one thing that all cancer survivors know is that remission lasts a lifetime: one would always, for the rest of his life, need to live healthily and responsibly in order to prevent a relapse. We cannot afford to take chances.

Besides family and friends, the healthcare professionals are next I am grateful for. Despite their efforts and commitment, these healthcare professionals are indeed under-appreciated. During my treatment period at NCCS, I encountered caring nurses and the high display of professionalism from my oncologist – they had altogether made my stay in the hospital more pleasant.

This ordeal had definitely transformed my life.  Besides having a healthier diet, I’ve started an exercise regime. And more importantly, I’ve learnt to not sweat the small stuff, cherish my time, making full use of it, and developed a greater appreciation for the little things in my life. Nevertheless, the whole ordeal has given me strength, and also a greater drive to seize the day, because life is short.

Before I had cancer, I didn’t exercise regularly, and the most I would do is to swim or play tennis occasionally. However, after my cancer went into remission, I took up Muay Thai and Jiu-Jutsu classes. Nowadays, I go to the gym twice a week, where I would do some cardio and weight-lifting.

I feel that a lot of our younger generation may be too physically inactive. However, exercise not only helps one to heighten their emotions, it also keeps illnesses at bay.  In fact, after my treatment ended, I started to exercise more regularly, and I felt even better than before I was diagnosed with cancer!

I am definitely participating in the upcoming Run for Hope 2012. The funding collected from this run will aid the cancer research conducted at NCCS. The underlying importance of cancer research should not be neglected. If I were born a few decades earlier and diagnosed with cancer, I might not have lived past my mid-20s due to the insufficient knowledge towards cancer and its drug treatment then.

Let’s contribute to the best that we could. Join Run For Hope and have a part in creating a cancer-free future.

Raymond Tan, 27

Sep 2012

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