Staying positive is a better medicine than therapy

IMG_2835Being in the soccer team when I was in secondary school, I wouldn’t say that I was a popular kid but rather I felt comfortable and welcomed in school. I wasn’t a marvelous student back then, in fact I would usually get kicked out of class and I devoted most of my time to playing soccer.

Unfortunately those carefree moments came to an end when the doctor told me that I was diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer when I was 15. At that point of time in life, I wasn’t sure of how I was supposed to feel. The only thing I could think of was “My life is over.” I couldn’t play soccer anymore. I was afraid that everyone was going to judge me. And I was a constant reminder of being ‘useless’.

But right now, I can tell you that going through this battle has been one of my greatest achievements, which also helped me change my perspective in life in a way that I could never imagine.

Throughout that year, I went through 4 months of Chemotherapy yet I continued to attend school whenever I could as it was the year of my O’ Levels Examination. There was no doubt that chemotherapy was one of the most torturing processes that I had to go through and there were even times where I felt so upset that I just wanted to pluck the drip needle out of  my hand and give up. I tried so hard to prevent my hair from dropping and refused to shave it off even when patches of holes were visible on my head. In the end, when I was recovering from a chemo session, I unconsciously agreed to let my mum shave off my hair and there I was, bald. It was difficult for me at first as I was a girl going through puberty and like every other girl at that age, looks mattered the most. I wore a beanie to school and avoided eye contact with everyone. I felt so ashamed that I never bothered to look myself in the mirror and could not bring myself to take any photograph throughout that period. I even broke down in school once because I started to overthink. I also continued to attend my team’s national competition to support them whenever I felt better. It made me angry whenever I saw my teammates complain or whine about something minor. There I was, sitting at the side of the field hoping that one day I could get back on the field and run like you, and there you are complaining about the tiniest things like your toe hurts and you want to rest.

Half the time I was absent from school due to treatment, so my teachers and friends advised me to take my examinations the following year. But I still gave it a shot anyway, and I’m glad I did. I would have treatment for one week, recovery for the next week and the third week I would feel good enough to attend school before my next treatment session.

I would say that I have received the best support I could ever have during my battle and I am so thankful for that. My family definitely treated me like a princess, the nurses at my centre gave me the best care that I could ask for. My school and teachers tried their best to accommodate to my every need and my close friends where there for me 24/7 and even my school mates, whom I did not know, personally dropped me Facebook messages to give me encouragements. But at the end of the day, I believe that the only person who could give you enough courage to walk on would be no one but YOURSELF. I pushed myself to be positive, to ignore all the judgments and to substitute the pain with the success that I knew I could obtain for days to come. Though, of course you have to know your limits and not over stress yourself. Things that I did include sitting alone outside the staff room when I attended school to do assessments and asked any teachers that walked pass when I was doubt, taking my pills on time even though they made me feel like it was going to ‘block my brain’ and even the simplest things like forcing myself to eat my meals even though I knew that I was going to vomit them out afterwards.  Life then really wasn’t easy, it was tiring, torturing and devastating but, I made it. Sadly, I didn’t get the score that I wanted for O Levels but still I was the luckiest person on earth to get into the course that i have been dreaming of since Sec 2.

IMG_5672Today, I’m 18 years old and I’m doing fine in my Polytechnic, I’m back on the field and, I am proud to say that I am a cancer survivor who is hoping to inspire more people who were in my situation. I don’t ask for much whenever I make wishes, the only thing I would ask for is to be HAPPY & HEALTHY because that’s the only thing that really matters.

For all the cancer patients going through the battle now, keep that fire of hope burning, persevere on and stay positive. Believe it or not, staying positive is a better medicine than therapy. Don’t let this tragic event ruin you, in fact take this as an opportunity to prove that you are indestructible. Not for anyone else, but yourself.  GO ON AND KICK CANCER’S BUTT!! YOU CAN DO IT!

 

Cristalle Wang, 18

Sep 2014

Live To Win

LNP-46The pain that others suffer can become your own, in more ways than one. But the same can be said of their strength.

Early last year, Hougang United FC coach, Amin Nasir, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. Despite his grave condition, help came in the form of newer innovations in cancer treatment. With constant motivation from loved ones around him, Amin found the strength to fight against the illness.

Cancer wasn’t ‘new’ to him, as he had supported and watched his son Ashrul Syafeeq battle against Leukaemia 10 years earlier. He knew it was going to be a physically and mentally challenging battle, but he was inspired by his son’s relentless fight who is now a cancer-free 19 year old.

Now, a year later, Amin is in remission and he is one of this year’s Run For Hope ambassadors.

“I want to send the message to all other cancer patients out there that they are not alone.”

You too can join in the effort to raise awareness for cancer and cancer research by joining Run For Hope 2014 happening on Nov 16, 7am at The Promontory @ Marina Bay. Sign up now & Spread the word!

I Run For Cancer Patients

LNP-30Cancer can strike anybody, anytime.

Cancer survivor, Winnie Tan, was 12 when she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. She found a growth on her right leg that affected her running which eventually turned out to be a bone tumour. Her battle against Osteosarcoma saw her undergo surgery and 6 cycles of chemotherapy. To prevent the cancer from spreading, she went through a second surgery which caused her to lose a limb.

Now 25 years old, Winnie has been in remission since 2002. She is currently pursuing a diploma in Social Work and aspires to help other cancer patients.

Join her and other Run For Hope ambassadors and help encourage cancer patients around the world in their fight against the disease.

We Run For Our Son, Adrian

LNP-16S-League footballer, Adrian Dhanaraj, may have lost his fight against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year. But his parents, Peter and Su Dhanaraj, drew strength from their son’s battle against cancer.

Adrian will always be remembered for his courage and relentless faith. Peter and Su fondly recalled how Adrian would still complete his runs and went for gym sessions with their eldest son, Christopher, before Chemotherapy sessions. “Even in his last weeks, Adrian looked healthy. He did not look like he had cancer at all,” said Su. Almost a year since his passing now, and the loss still weighs heavy in their hearts.

This year, they join Run For Hope as ambassadors, hoping to draw more people to fight for this cause and support cancer research. You too can join them!

LNP-18

We’d  like to give a special shout-out and thank you to the guys who shot this year’s Run For Hope ambassadors latenightproject. They specially volunteered their time and skills to support this meaningful cause. Stay tuned for the official photos as we reveal more Run For Hope 2014 Ambassadors on “Your Stories” and Run For Hope’s facebook page!

 

 

I now take time to smell the roses around me

I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in December 2006. I was 36 year old then.

At that very moment I found out about my condition, I thought I was going to die. I asked my oncologist ‘how long more do I still have?’ That was when I gathered knowledge that breast cancer is actually treatable and chances for recovery is high. Hence I had started to read more about cancer and find out the kinds of treatments available.

During the period of my treatment, I was practically counting down to the end of my 8 chemotherapy sessions, and 30 radiation sessions. What’s all on my mind was to get it over and done so I could continue to lead on with my normal life – full working schedule, travelling overseas and my favorite golfing activity!

Now that all is over, I keep my fingers crossed that I will not have any relapse. Even if it happens, I am definitely prepared to fight the Big C again!

Looking back, I am very grateful, for my parents were always around to take care of my every need. They accompanied me through my check-ups, to seating with me through my treatment period. In addition, they would also read up on articles from the website, newspapers to find out more about cancer. As we become more self-aware, we would be clearer of the dos and don’ts for a person seeking cancer treatment.

Besides my closest kin, the most commendable group of motivators/supporters during the harsh period was the doctors and nurses. They are my pillar of support and were always on the lookout for small little facial expressions I gave out whenever there were any discomforts during treatment. My oncologist had provided his mobile number too so that I can call him directly should there be any complication after each chemo treatment. My company’s doctor even opened his clinic on a Sunday (they are not opened on Sundays) just for me to obtain my daily-dose of injection in view of my cancer treatment. I was very touched by this special arrangement the doctor did for me.

Cancer has definitely changed my perspective towards life.

Before I had cancer, I was physically active, engaging in golf, brisk walking and jogging. Right now, I still exercise regularly and on top of that, I’ve adopted a healthier diet by eating in moderation and include more fruits and greens which I used to dislike. In addition to that, I am now a less workaholic as compared to before. And I now take time to ‘smell the roses around me’!

A piece of advice personally to young people who are diagnosed with cancer; Fear not. Keep Calm and Fight On. Cancer is not a death sentence. Many have been diagnosed with cancer and many have walked out of it as awesome warriors and survivors.

Hopefully cancer researchers will find a ‘cure’ for breast cancer and all other forms of cancer soon so that no one has to go through such unpleasant experience. We definitely need more support with cancer research. Doctors and researchers need our assistance to arm them with the equipment and manpower necessary to understand cancer and to search for a cure. However, they cannot do this alone and will need our support. Our support through monetary means will help them go a long way in their cancer research.

The Run For Hope 2012 is an event to raise funds for the NCC Research Fund with the purpose of paving the way for a cancer cure through research. I have been supporting the Runs for cancer research by assisting the organising team with the event communications. Prior to the run, we have many internal company activities to help raise fund in conjunction with the run and I would actively participate in them as well.

In my mere presence, I would like to call out to as many runners as well as non-runners to step forward and be part of the 10,000 runners this year for Run For Hope 2012. Let’s create a milestone towards a cancer-free future.

Adeline Lee, 42

Marketing Executive Assistant, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Asia Pacific

July 2012

Meaningful efforts at work keep me very motivated in my job.

For the past 10 years, I have been a faithful volunteer supporting the run for cancer research – the first 5 years when I was in Regent Singapore, and the next 5 years over here at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore. Since May this year, my colleagues and I have been organising several staff activities at the hotel to raise awareness and funds leading up to the Run For Hope 2012.

These activities include sale of fruits that were either sponsored or provided at special rates by our suppliers, dumplings in conjunction with the Dragon-boat festival, as well as karaoke singing sessions. Singing is my favorite pastime. I feel very fortunate that I could tap on my personal interest and incorporate it with charitable efforts at my workplace. Although I am not into running, I strongly believe in doing my part, however small it may seem, for a good cause.

What further encourages me is the great enthusiasm and support given by my fellow colleagues. The activities have been very well received so far. Such meaningful efforts keep me very motivated in my job. By the day of the run, we hope to have raised $10,000 from the staff activities, contributing to the amount that Run For Hope aims to raise for research at the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

Recently, this suddenly became a cause close to home. I lost a family member to cancer. He passed away barely a month after diagnosis because it was detected at a late stage. We never know when and who cancer may strike. Through cancer research, I hope cancer can one day become more easily detectable and curable. A lot of support is needed to make this day a reality sooner. For the benefit of our families, and ourselves, let us not take health for granted.

Susan Tan, Director of Purchasing, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore

August 2012

I take pride in what I’m doing and I am seeing miracles every single day.

My role at NCCS is sometimes a part of drug research, through conducting regular scans on patients to monitor their progress. There are protocols and accuracy standards to be strictly maintained, to obtain the most accurate information for the researchers and doctors.

During the course of my work, I need to interact with the patients and understand their worries. Most often, these patients involved in research, or more specifically, clinical trials are receiving tested drugs at no cost to them. The main concern of these patients is usually the effectiveness of the drug, and anticipating an improvement in their condition. Their anxiousness could affect the scan accuracy; hence, it is essential that we calm them while performing the scans.

Many people may perceive that my work in a cancer centre seems all doom and gloom. This is definitely not true. I take pride in what I’m doing and I am seeing miracles every single day. I witness how new drugs or treatments help patients extend their lives and the joy that such positive outcomes bring on to the faces of their family members. It is also through them, that I learned the importance of spending quality time with my loved ones.

Certainly, having good health enables us to enjoy such quality time. And the fundamentals of healthy living include watching what we eat and regular exercise is just as vital. My husband and I would run together regularly, and we would participate in events/marathons and train for the runs together. For me, running is a form of distressing activity. After every run, I will feel recharged and positive towards overcoming the challenges ahead.

On the Run For Hope co-organised by NCCS and our corporate partners, I feel that this has a different meaning compared to the rest of the race events I had participated. Maintaining it as a non-competitive run implies to me that we can all set our own benchmark and run at our own pace. At the same time, it provides an added avenue to support our common purpose beyond our work.

I hope more will join me in this run and help us work towards finding a cancer cure through research. Whether you are an avid runner or not, you can Run For Hope. If there is any patient who would like to join in the run but is wheelchair-bound, I will gladly volunteer myself to wheel the participant and complete the run together.

 Kym Sor, Principal Radiographer at NCCS

July 2012

There are moments when we as medical professionals are faced with a hard truth

At the NCCS, my role involves preparing patients and performing initial checks on them before sending them to the radiographers for CT or MRI scans. The scans allow doctors to better understand the patients’ conditions pre- or post-treatment progress.

I play a part in providing them assurance and building up their confidence before treatment. I interact with patients a lot, and sometimes, I provide a listening ear. As treatments are costly, it added greater financial burden to the patients on top of the appalling sufferings they had to endure from the illness. Patients shared with me how they managed to raise money for treatment, and a few took extreme measures of selling flats to fund their treatments.

Seeing how much these cancer patients are giving up every material goods they possessed in order to survive, there are moments when we as medical professionals, are faced with a hard truth to be told to the patient – that is, treatment options have been exhausted. This is without a doubt, the last thing we ever want to convey to the patients. Cancer is nevertheless complex and develops in various forms, hence the need to constantly seek new ways and means to eliminate it.

This is why in NCCS we place such great emphasis on cancer research, so that we could understand the complex biology of cancer and constantly develop new treatment options to tackle the different forms of cancers. The NCC Research Fund was set up to raise a substantial pool of funding to sustain a variety of cancer research. Some aimed at finding treatment methods that are more affordable, some to better detect cancer early so that it can be more treatable.

Although I am non-research staff, I am glad I can support efforts that pave the way for a cancer-free future for our patients by being part of Run For Hope. I strongly urge everyone to join me in doing our part for cancer research so more lives can be saved.

Melanie Tan, Senior Staff Nurse at NCCS Oncologic Imaging

July 2012

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

I know patients who have benefitted from cancer research. They are now living longer and enjoying better quality of life.

I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1998. While I was undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for the first six month, my son arrived prematurely and we were all struggling with the sudden change in our lives.

However, I did not allow this unfavorable illness to ruin the way I lived.  Over the years, we have put the experience from those 6 months of ordeal to good use. We have met and supported numerous cancer patients, caregivers and spoken to interest groups. Many of whom have walked with me during that tumultuous period, and they are still around.

This urge was so strong that I slowly picked up running to rebuild my strength and my body. My first run was the Terry Fox run. It was a major spark that started my engagement in endurance races; marathon, biathlon, triathlon followed by Aviva 70.3 Ironman.

All these while, I have the complete support from my dearest wife, Dorothy Hoo. She has been through a lot with me, in sickness and in health. And up till today, though she simply does not like to run, she was there with and for me. She is the pillar and support of my life, my constant companion, and she is one major inspiration to me!

Cancer has indefinitely changed my lifestyle and perspective towards life. I learned to have greater appreciation towards my family, spend my precious time wisely, always have the ‘do your best’ attitude, and care for others as the world doesn’t just revolve around you.

Nevertheless, staying healthy and being active is equally essential.  I’ve been active in sports since my school days, and picked it up again after I’ve recovered from cancer.

Just a simple message from me out to the young people; you must find your reasons to do certain thing, which is reasonable. Find one and you will enjoy it for life. The benefits you reap will be life-long. Anyone who actively participates in sports is less likely to regret having done so. It is just simply so enjoyable!

Run For Hope is an annual running event organised in aid of cancer research. The funds accumulated from this run will help find us a better cure for cancer. Financing cancer research, for that matter any research, is costly and at the end of the day, we may come to a dead end. However, I know patients who have benefitted from cancer research and are now living longer and/or better quality of life.

14 years ago, monoclonal antibodies were not a mainstream cancer therapeutic drug. Comparatively, the landscape today is much improved and vastly enhanced.

Avid runners out there, I hope you all will take this great opportunity to participate in this run for a good cause. As for non-runners, you can always make this your first run. Let’s contribute together to cancer research and you owe it to yourself to stay active!

Finally, I just want to point out something that is not directly related to cancer research. The palliative management of patients may have to come up to speed in the pace of development and efficient provision of healthcare services. Compounding factors of aging population and increasing diagnosis of cancer are weighing in on the demand of a quality and accessible cancer management program. It will be a tall order for NCCS but we believe the Centre will do what is best for the patients at its doorsteps.

Lim Tau Wei, 40

July 2012

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