March 1992. 12 years old. A swelling on my left wrist. Surgery was performed to have it removed. The result came back a couple of weeks later during my first high school semester exam. I was diagnosed of Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of bone and muscle cancer that normally affects children. As a 12 year old, I was "unique" back then.
If you look at the first 2 words of the above paragraph, YES, it has been 21 years since I was first diagnosed though I no longer remember the exact date. Hence each year in the month of March, I remember it as my anniversary month. Not remembering it due that I was diagnosed of it, but remembering it as a cancer survivor, someone who battled it and remembering it as a fact of life and what made me today.
After battling it for close to 3 years, it's now 21 years since I was first diagnosed of cancer and 18 years since I beaten it, I am now what I am, cancer free. Through my experience with it, I am working with close people and friends in trying to spread the word that cancer can be beaten and it is not a death sentence! And in through my passion of running, I hope to deliver this message and to help raise funds for cancer research together with the cause I am championing together with CARIF (Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation). Together with Professor Teo, Sook Yee, Sook Ching, Peter, Amy, Jane and some other 30 plus scientist and researchers there plus friends, we hope to be one step ahead in the battle against cancer.
My experience with cancer was no doubt a painful one. But it's one long journey that I will remember for the rest of my life, for it made me what I am today. Not that I am happy with the end result, but I can proudly say that I beaten it and am a living proof to many out there. Though sometimes I look myself in the mirror and ask "What have I done to deserve this?", I though to myself of the other cancer patients who are still battling it or had lost their battle. I am probably considered the lucky ones and hence could not ask for more.
I do not know how or what person I will be if I did not suffer from cancer, but what I do know now is that I am ME and MYSELF! I am still Frank, the IT student turned personal trainer turned retailer which holds a passion in running. A normal person who works daily to earn a living for myself and also to spread the word to others by sharing my experiences as a cancer survivor and a runner to the others out there through various activities like talks, roadshows or even one to one counselling. And yes, this is what I do.
I hope that I will be cancer free for the rest of my life. But should it return, I know that I will fight it till the end. As for now, I will concentrate with another "Big C" which is the Comrades Marathon where I will run annually in my cause to raise funds for cancer research with CARIF. And for this month of March 2013, I will remember myself and all cancer patients, survivors and those who had lost their battle by running a 40KM race this weekend and also a 16 hours race at the end of the month.
21 years. It has been that long huh...