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Research is a fundamental part of not just finding a cancer cure, but to also make cancer far less destructive.

I was diagnosed with Nasopharyngeal Cancer in 2010.  Just like anyone affected by cancer, I was initially shocked by the diagnosis but I learnt to accept and deal with what came after. It was a trying period, made only easier with love and support from my family and friends who formed a velcro-like attachment to me! In many aspects it was probably a lot harder on them…  For this very reason, I refused to let my cancer be any more painful than it had to be on my loved ones and myself. My stubborn and determined personality had perhaps also (finally!) found its positive channel in my fight against cancer. I refused to be taken down just because I have ‘the Big C’.

During this journey, besides a great support system of family, friends and an employer that made a substantial difference in making it more bearable, good medical care was imperative. Medical professionals involved in the care for my condition helped to foster understanding, reassurance and instill in me a sense of ‘fighting a good fight’. Moving on after I completed my treatments, the fight continues through good lifestyle habits – running regularly and eating healthily. This forms a critical aspect towards my long-term recovery. I have also learnt to give myself a good break from what used to be a crazily hectic lifestyle. I’m still living life to the fullest as before, except it now involves committing more time to meaningful activities that I hope can help make a positive change, and putting me and my health at the forefront.

Until I was diagnosed with cancer, I never really thought about the role of cancer research. I had the same type of cancer that my grandmother had more than 10 years ago. I could recall her radiation treatment was less sophisticated back then, sadly resulting in severe side effects and a large degree of post-treatment suffering. My treatment, on the contrary, was relatively painless with minimal side effects. This was only possible with today’s technology derived from research and science that enabled the precision of administering my radiotherapy as compared to my grandmother’s.

From the knowledge that I gained during my journey, I now know and believe that research is a fundamental part of not just finding a cancer cure, but to also make cancer far less destructive. NCCS’ efforts and progress in this area plays such a big role in helping cancer patients in the long run, patients like myself who have greatly benefited from such progress. With ongoing quality research, my hope is that cancer can someday soon be relegated to the same way we treat a common flu and no longer be the killer disease we know of today.

Karen Wong, 38

Oct 2011

The most heart-warming thing was the assurance that my job would still be there when I return.

When I was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma back in January 2007, I didn’t really read up about it. All I remembered was that I was working in Four Seasons Resort at Maldives back then, and there was one day where my neck was swelling so badly that my colleagues became very concerned. The next thing I knew, I was flown back to Germany where I was diagnosed with the cancer.

All this while I kept thinking: Tell me what to do to fight this. I didn’t think that I was going to die because I was happy with my life.

I underwent chemotherapy and radiation for a couple of weeks and during then I really felt like giving up. I lost about 15-20 kg at one go. What really kept me going was the love and support I had from my family, friends and especially my company. The Vice-President of Operations (Rooms Division) called me up weekly to check on my condition and my ex-General Manager emailed the entire company, and I received many letters and cards from colleagues all over the world, wishing me a speedy recovery. The most heart-warming thing was their assurance that my job would still be there when I return.

The doctor told me that I had a good survival rate and even though I fall sick more often due to my weaker immune system, I’m happy that I’m still alive. I was cleared of my cancer within the same year but had to go back for check-ups once every six months. Now that I’m working in Singapore, I go to NCCS for my check-ups.

Never neglect your health – go for regular check-ups, especially if your family has a history of cancer. What I take with me after this is a positive attitude; fight it, look forward and don’t let your head down, even when you feel that you can’t do it anymore.

Julian Pagel, 34

Assistant Executive Housekeeper, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore

Oct 2011

It was the love for my family and last words from my mum that kept me strong

I was 18 when I lost the closest kin of mine to cancer. It was a nine-year-long battle with cancer. She is the strongest and most positive woman I have ever known. The woman I respected most in life, my dearest mum. Breast cancer struck her in 1999. She managed to recover from it but suffered a relapse five years later. The cancer attacked her spine and eventually spread to her liver and kidneys. By then it was end stage cancer.

During that period, my dad, two elder brothers and I became the pillars of support for my mum; we were also each other’s support. Needless to say it was an extremely trying for the family. While she had us by her side, it was her who had to endure the pain and sufferings from the chemotherapy sessions. She also bravely took up all kinds of medications in hopes to win this battle regardless of how slim the chances and baring the torment.

Her body was rejecting all kinds of treatments one month before she passed on. Her last two weeks were most heart wrenching for us as she suffered from chronic pain and her body deteriorate rapidly. She was so frail and was bed-ridden, however she insisted on being discharged.

She came home in a wheelchair, with an oxygen concentrator to aid her in breathing as her lungs were filled with liquid and the virus affected the function of the organ. We took turns taking care of her round the clock. We had to constantly ensure she had a cold towel placed around her stomach area, which was the least we could do to offer her some comfort. Her body condition only allowed her to be home for 3 days and she was admitted back to the hospital again. We were thankful for all the advice from the palliative care professionals, who enabled us to provide better care for mum.

During her final days, she was given morphine, which helped ease her pain. She slipped into an unconscious state and finally succumbed on the 15 October 2008. After her passing, it was an awfully difficult time and I was so depressed and devastated. It was the love for my family, and my mum’s last words that kept me strong. She told me to take care of the family for her. I also remembered her telling me that the best present to her for Mothers’ Days and her Birthdays was me excelling in my studies. I worked very hard and managed to earn a scholarship to pursue a degree in a university in the United Kingdoms. I certainly did not understand the importance of studies when I was younger, but I hoped to present her the best gift she wanted. I wished she could live to see my achievement.

Nevertheless, my mum’s battle with cancer helped me realise the importance of family unity. Having an ill-stricken family member affects each and every one in the family. The support and encouragement from one another in the family plays a vital role in overcoming the hardship. Today, the rest of our family has become more closely knitted than before. She is never gone for she lives in all our hearts. We experienced the frailty of life. We learned to treasure our lives and everyone around us, especially our love ones and most definitely do not take them for granted. We became stronger in the face of adversity and understood the need to soldier on despite the odds.

I saw the importance of adopting a healthier lifestyle. I exercise regularly 2-3 times a week, either hitting the gym or running. So join me in the Run For Hope 2012 so that we all can contribute to cancer research in hope that one day humanity can discover the cure for cancer.

Be part of this change. Run for the countless love ones cancer took away from us!

Shannon Peh, 22

June 2012

“I dive, I swim, I drive, and I run.”

I was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer 15 years ago, which eventually resulted in the loss of my right hip. Today, I am free of the disease and supporting the fight against cancer. I dive, I swim, I drive, and I run.

In 1989, I was diagnosed with synovial chondromatosis of the right hip joint. Treatment for this was mostly conservative for several years until I went for surgery in 1995. The following year, I was diagnosed with secondary chondrosarcoma that arose from the right hip and extended to surrounding muscles. A few years later, I had a hindquarter amputation, after which there has been no evidence of cancer.

At the prime of my life, the cancer diagnosis dealt me with a huge blow. To me, the hardest battle was in trying to comprehend why I was so unfortunate to have an uncommon strain of cancer and having to accept the loss of a leg. It was a constant struggle, but I dealt with the situation to the best of my ability and started to regain my confidence after the last surgery. Support from my family, friends and colleagues made a difference during the challenging time.

I managed to move forward with my life, personally and professionally. I found my life partner, got married, and I continued with my career in financial services.

My cancer journey provided me with a respected perspective on the need of financial planning due to life’s uncertainties. I have since moved on to a new role managing training and competence.

I’m now leading my life to fullest. I took on hand-cycling some years back and have been participating in hand-cycling competitions. Supporting the cancer cause is one of my current passions and I have been participating in the Run For Hope for the past 8 years. I believe that everyone and anyone can do their part to support and promote cancer awareness and the continual need for resources to be directed towards cancer research. I look forward to being one of the 10,000 runners at Run For Hope this year.

Ezzy Wang, 46

June 2012

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