With Terry Fox Run (Marathon of Hope) into its 33rd edition this year and with the KL run just under a month away, here's a short recap on how I discovered Rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer of the connective tissue that affected me.
When I first discovered a swelling on my left wrist back in early year 1992, I didn't know what was it. Maybe it was just a typical swelling when I rested by wrist on the table or perhaps due to sports (played handball and football during those days). A check with the family doctor, Dr. Tan didn't reveal much and thus thinking it was gangrene. However, after having second thoughts, Dr. Tan called up the next day to arrange for a scan at Maria Specialist Hospital with Dr. Chiew. And thus from there, my first encounter with cancer started.
The scan revealed a lump embed within my left wrist and surgery was needed to remove it. And so in March 1992, surgery was performed by Dr. Chiew and the marble sized whitish lump was removed and sent to Mount Elizabeth Hospital for lab testing. The result returned a couple of weeks later while I was having my first high school semester exam. The result was a negative one and treatment was needed immediately.
Being a 12 year old back then and considered a growing teenager, I was unique as Rhadbomyosarcoma generally affects children aged 5 to 7 years old. Chemotheraphy was administered at Singapore National University Hospital (SNUH) under the care of Dr. Quah TC. After a 6 months cycle period, I was transferred to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for Radiotheraphy under the care of Dr. Yang TL . It was for a one month period. Finally, it was back to SNUH again for to continue with Chemotherapy and ending again with Chemotherapy, this time on a stronger more potent dosage.
One particular chemo drug that was administered on me that I remembered clearly till today for its potency is Adriamycin, a clear red liquid that does most what other chemo drugs does but with an extra, potential damage to the heart cells. This was the same drug that was administered for my hero, Canada's late Terry Fox too when he battled Osteosarcoma, a pretty similar cancer to what I battled.
2 years down the road, I successfully overcame my sickness, just in time for my PMR exam though not doing very well in it. The next 10 years was to watch for any symptoms of relapse and I was glad I live through it healthily. And during that 10 years, I managed to pick myself up performing pretty well in both studies and sports. And today, here is where I am, doing that I do best in endurance sports, long distance running and in the meantime helping to raise awareness about cancer together with CARIF and the outreach program Be Frank.
Before this post gets too long as the above is basically just a recap, what I am trying to share is that cancer is not a death sentence. Early detection of cancer is the far most important in survival rate and it all lies within no other than our ownself. Never to afraid to stand up to it, to ask around and to fight it. A small growth, lump, pain or anything abnormal you are feeling anywhere on your body, quickly have it check. It may not be 100% cancer, but it's always good to know. I may have taken 2 years of treatment to battle it and although it does sound pretty long and obviously a painful journey, I may not be here to blog about it should I chose to let the swelling be. And besides, with medical advancement nowadays, treatment may be even more "friendly" and less painful. Just remember, be bold, be brave and most importantly Be Frank about cancer.
If you have any doubts about something suspicious happening to your body, do plan a quick visit to your friendly neighbourhood doctor to have it check out. And with many plans out there which includes AXA110 Cancer Care, cancer treatment has never been easier.