Friday, February 24, 2012

My Comrades "War Chest"...

By Frank

This just arrived not too long ago courtesy of Outdoor Venture Pte Ltd, Running Lab, K-Swiss and GU Energy Labs. My "war chest" as described on the title of this entry, it contains essentials that I will use on my training and race day of the Comrades Marathon 2012.

Training and race day essentials...

Firstly, my training rubbers, the K-Swiss Blade-Light Run which happen to be my second pair. Beside cosmetic changes, no specification were altered. Find out on my personal take on it here. When asked by Ms. Karen Chua of Outdoor Venture Pte Ltd of my preferred shoe choice for training, I had no hesitation in choosing this particular model which I quickly fell in love with, last year. A balance blend between light weight, minimalist and cushioning, I opt for this pair as it will be the closest I can get to my race shoe which happens to be...

Handsome new colour for the K-Swiss Blade-Light Run, my day to day training shoe...

Meet the all new K-Swiss Blade Foot Run! Enter the very first K-Swiss zero drop minimalist footwear! Weighing in at about 8.0oz for a size US9.0 for men, again I will emphasised on race day elements. Some reason I chose this model is because:

1) Balanced weight as in not overly light nor heavy
2) A more efficient running gait and posture with the zero drop specifications
3) The ventilation provided by the Flow Cool System as 89KM is a long distance to run
4) Blade technology which I adore a lot

The K-Swiss Blade Foot Run which will stamp the holy route from Pietermaritzburg to Durban...

First impression of the shoe gave me confidence boost and I really hope it will pass my running test which I will conduct in about 3 weeks time. By then, I should be able to review it.

Last but not least, my nutrition by GU Energy Labs. On race day, I will rely on these before the solid food intake will kick in. The most portable energy source I can carry in my minimal stash during my run, I plan for a 2 sachet each for GU Energy Gel, GU Roctane and GU Chomps. And for training days, these will really aid my performance orientation and recovery. Not forgetting too on my tummy's relationship with GU Energy Labs products which I can describe as "best of friends".

Nutrition GUlore!

With exactly 100 days till race day, all these arrived in just about time. Many thanks to Ms. Karen Chua and Mr. Marc Pereira of Outdoor Venture Pte Ltd for helping arrange these and my fullest sincere gratitude to all 4 companies for the support given in battling cancer.

Monday, February 20, 2012


By Frank

By today, most of my friends will know that I successfully battled cancer and won over it many years ago. But my guess is that, most of you do not know the type of cancer and the treatment I underwent through the painful 30 months since 1992.

Rhabdomyosarcoma was the name of the cancer that struck me on my left wrist. It's a cancer that normally is diagnose among young children and it was a rare case for me, a kid at the age of 12 years to be diagnosed of it. So rare that the doctors took me on a roller coaster ride in doing test, test and more test. Yes, I was "special" in a way. The below is a description of Rhabdomyosarcoma extracted from American Cancer Society and modified with some of my own words.

My left wrist where the tumour was removed...

Sarcomas are cancers that develop from connective tissues in the body, such as muscles, fat, membranes that line the joints or blood vessels. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer made up of cells similar to those that normally develop into skeletal muscles of the body.

Skeletal muscles first begin to form in embryos about 7 weeks after the egg cell is fertilized by a sperm cell. At that time, rhabdomyoblasts (cells that will eventually form muscles) begin to form. It is these cells that can become malignant and develop into the cancer call Rhabdomyosarcoma. Because this is a cancer of embryonal cells, it is more common in infants and young children. Though it does occur in adults, it is very uncommon.

Although Rhabdomyosarcoma tends to grow and spread rapidly, fortunately its symptoms are quite obvious compared to those of other forms of childhood cancer. A noticeable lump or swelling, is present. Definite diagnosis relies on biopsy and evidence of tumour spread is sought with x-rays, tomograms, scans and bone marrow examination.

Traditionally, surgery has been the primary treatment followed by intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The below is my experience battling through Rhabdomyosarcoma. It may have been 20 years since, but I will try to recap as much as possible on what had happened during that time.

It happened in the first quarter of year 1992 when I first discovered myself of a swollen left wrist. Being curious, I've asked my dad about it and was immediately send over to our regular clinic to seek advice. First diagnosis by Dr. Tan was gangrene where they liquid is to be squeeze out. Next day, Dr. Tan called up. After having second thoughts, he suggested for a scan which was done over at Maria Specialist Hospital and it quickly revealed a growth in my left wrist. A surgery was needed to remove it and so I went under the knife just a couple of weeks before my first high school semester exams.

Kind of weird, but at that time I thought that it will be quite an exciting experience for me. 1, 2 and 3 and it's lights off for me. Upon waking up, feeling drowsy, I soon saw my left arm till the wrist was encased in plaster and it hurt. So much for an exciting experience. Dr. Chiew, the doctor that operated me then came for a visit and even showed the tumour that was remove from me. It was whitish in colour and no bigger than a traditional marble ball. It was to be send to Mount Elizabeth Hospital at Singapore for test.

A typical Rhabdomyosarcoma tumour. Mine was whitish and rounder though...

The test result was revealed on my first paper on my first day of semester exam. Just when the exam is going to start, my dad suddenly appeared in school and told me that I was to make a trip to Singapore National
University Hospital (SNUH). Apparently the test result showed a malignant cancerous tumour. Under the watchful eye of Dr. Quah, I was to undergo many test from blood to bone marrow before the first phase of treatment which was chemotherapy.

Most unforgettable moment for me was the extraction of my bone marrow. Midway through while the needle is still embedded on my lower back, I woke up after the anaesthetic effect worn off. I was in pain and what other thing a 12 year old can do is to scream and cry. I was instantly injected with more anaesthetic and was knock out again.

Chemotherapy after just only a few days, took its toll on me. I weaken and hair started to drop off. Soon, I was a baldy and not even my eyebrows were spared. Pimples started to breakout and I was constantly throwing up. Throwing up with nothing to throw up is certainly a horrible thing to go through as I had no appetite at all. And these lasted about 6 months on a 2 weeks interval of me travelling between home at Johor Bahru to Singapore. And during treatment, I ballooned up nearing up to 80KG in weight.

Class photo during my Form 2 days in year 1993. Try to spot me at the middle row, third from the right. Yes, I'm the odd one wearing a cap cause I was bald...

Soon, second phase came and radiotherapy was next. This time under the care of Dr. Yang from Singapore General Hospital (SGH). A 1 month radiotherapy treatment was to be administer each day except the weekends, this saw me and mum travelling to and from Singapore each day. Even my left arm has weird markings on it, as it will guide where the radiation laser should be aimed at. Technically speaking, my entire left arm was burnt after 1 week's treatment. And to make matters worst, fellow schoolmates that did not understand what I was going through, laugh at my left arm which has weird markings on it.

Soon after radiotherapy treatment was over, I was back to SNUH for more chemotherapy. Stronger chemo drugs were administer and this time was the introduction of morphine to me as the pain got pretty unbearable. Besides, some of my veins began to harden and doctors had problem inserting the intravenous needle in. I remember that it sometime takes up to more than 10 tries to find the correct working vein.

Soon time passes, and the dosage strength began to change for the better. I do not need to be warded any more and can just visit the Oncologist for light dosage. However, it will still take up a whole afternoon for the process to be administer. But I held on, and soon I was on the way back to recovery. My hair grew slowly and soon, I was able to remove my cap in public.

A post mortem on what I had gone through with Dr. Quah was did and I showed positive signs. However, an annual check-up for the next 10 years will need to be done as it's the most critical time to watch out for any relapse. I survived the 10 years and this is where I am today, some 20 years after my first and hopefully last encounter with Rhabdomyosarcoma.

So now you know my history. Will you look at me the same for I am different in a way. Life goes on for sure but the weaker side of me will also represent my strength. To those battling the disease, know it that the battle can be won. It's tough but one day, surely it will be better.

This entry is dedicated to both my parents, Dr. Quah, Dr. Chiew, Dr. Yang, Dr. Tan and doctors and nurses from Singapore National University Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital Singapore and Maria Specialist Hospital Johor Bahru. And not forgetting those who have showered care for me during my darkest hours. Finally but not least, those who have been warded together whom have battled successfully cancer together and to those have gave their life for it. It's an ongoing battle, but surely one day, YOU.ME.WE CAN BEAT CANCER together!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Ultimate Race For Cancer Research 2012...

By Frank

As most of you will know now, I'm will be running this year's Comrades Marathon, the "down" edition, in aid of cancer research. The campaign will be titled The Ultimate Race For Cancer Research or TURCR and my beneficiary will be CARIF (Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation) based over at Sime Darby Medical Centre, Subang Jaya. The campaign has been officially launch as of last week although I'm still waiting for the official charity t-shirts to be printed out.

It has been so long since I wanted to do something for cancer research and it's about time I do so. With all my effort channelling towards the Terry Fox Run in KL since year 2007, I guess it is about the correct time to move a step further. After a failed attempt in year 2008 where the charity campaign was called off at the eleventh hour due to some policies from the previous beneficiary, I have been constantly seeking out a second chance to start from scratch again. And it will be a chance meet-up with Peter Kang from CARIF back in year 2010 where I finally re-did my homework again before finally popping the proposal out late last year. And so, the idea finally materialised and I soon met up with Professor Teo, Katrina and a few others over at CARIF to further discuss on it before officially finalising and announcing it to the public.

The following is the press release for The Ultimate Race For Cancer Research 2012:

Support a brave Malaysian in the ultimate race against cancer!

In 1991 at the age of 12, Frank was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma Cancer, a rare form of cancer that affects muscle and connective tissues. Frank successfully battled against the cancer. Since then, Frank has been passionate about having a healthy lifestyle and in the past 5 years he started participating in various runs to raise funds for cancer research.

Frank as at 31 December 2011, has now completed a total of 16 marathons, 8 ultramarathons (with the furthest being 100KM) and 3 Powermans.

Recently, Frank has qualified as one of the 2 Malaysians for the world’s largest, oldest and perhaps one of the most gruelling 90km ultramarathon race called Comrades Marathon, taking place on 3 June 2012 at South Africa. The race requires participants complete the Run in 12 hours, with a number of cut-off points along the routes which runners must reach by a prescribed time or be forced to retire from the race. The objective of the Race is to commemorate the South African soldiers killed during the war. The Comrades was run for the first time on 24 May 1921 (Empire Day), and with the exception of a break during World War II, it has been run every year since. To date, over 300,000 runners have completed the race. For more information about the Run, do visit

Frank is eager in giving back to the society, particularly for cancer patients. An example is the Terry Fox Foundation where he helped to raise fund that will benefit the foundation in the continuous research towards battling the disease. In order to further his involvement in this, Frank intends to run the Comrades Marathon for a good cause and benefiting CARIF (Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation).

Join the CARIF - Frank ‘The Ultimate Race for Cancer Research’ fund raising campaign.

You can pledge your support towards this campaign:

1) Purchase the “special edition” t-shirts at RM60 each, available end February 2012. T-shirts are available at CARIF and Running Lab, Tropicana City Mall.

2) Donate. Cash or cheque (payable to Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation) can be deposited at CARIF or Running Lab, Tropicana City Mall

3) ‘Like’ and share the official Facebook page at The Ultimate Race For Cancer Research (

You can also view Frank’s updates on his race preparation recorded on his personal blog (

You. Me. We Can Beat Cancer.

The "special edition" t-shirt for TURCR...
The Ultimate Race For Cancer Research 2012 is proudly supported by the above...

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Comrades In Books...

By Frank

My fellow soon to be Comradier, Chee Kong return home (and left) recently from South Africa for the Chinese New Year holidays. What he brought back along was knowledge, and a whole bunch of them. Books regarding running and especially on the history and inspiration of the Comrades Marathon were the main highlight and it will sure keep me inspired and motivated as I await and prepare for race day in June 2012.

Get to know more about Comrades...

Not only the above, he also brought back biltong, a type of dried meat considered to be a delicacy over at South Africa. I think the one he brought back is buffalo meat. It's actually a pretty healthy meal but it just taste horrible! Its basically aired raw meat which are made up of lean protein. Imagine meat jerky but in a horrible stinky taste. Sorry, but I just can't take the smell!

Bilitong (this is the pre-packed version)...

Overall during Chee Kong' short holiday back here, we had a few short but good get together with some other friends discussing about running, running and more running. We even tried to "poison" a few friends to join us for 2013's edition of the Comrades Marathon which happens to be the "Up" race.

Me and Chee Kong and dad in background. Hahaha... (photo credit to Tey ET)...

Now the only problem is how am I going to finish all the books when I have hardly any time for myself? Hmmm...