Contributed by cancer survivor, Mr Louis Ng living in Singapore.
Living With Colon Cancer
I found out I was stricken with cancer after I came back from a two-and-a-half year job assignment in China. I had been having piles for quite a while then and in 1994, I had an operation and a colonoscopy before I went to China.
They found nothing in my colon. After the operation, I did not have any problem the two and half years in China.
I returned to Singapore in September 1997, still working for my company, but in a different capacity. I became a logistics executive looking after a fleet of trucks and daily delivery to all the Fast food outlets. Due to the stress, long hours of work and lack of sleep (only 3 to 4 hours per day for 3 months at a stretch), my piles came back, a very painful and uncomfortable state.
Finally I went to see my company doctor. He suspected that something was wrong and advised me to see a specialist but I did not as I was very busy at work.
My mum bought me some Chinese medicine to apply to the piles. By the third day I was losing a lot of blood whenever I went to the toilet. I thought that the medicine was working on the piles and continued to use it. After three days of bleeding, I finally fainted and had to have a blood transfusion. Later, I was told I had colorectal cancer and had to go for operation. I ended up with a bag in front (stoma). I went to seek a second opinion and opted for 26 times of radiotherapy and 2 cycles of chemotherapy.
I was not afraid and told the doctor to do whatever was possible even if I had to carry the bag it was all right for me. After the operation I recovered very fast. Within a week I was discharged and continued with my 4 cycles of chemotherapy. I gained weight every chemotherapy cycle and I did not suffer any hair loss. My appetite was very good. I got hungry very fast and I kept eating. For every cycle of chemotherapy I gained 1 to 2 kg.
Five months after my operation, I went back to work and started to train with weights to tone up. I used to take part in vertical and 3/4 marathons, cycle, swim and weight-train before I had cancer.
I am a very positive person and I take things as they come. I am very open about my condition to people I know, so I can help those with this problem and who needs to know more. During this period of time, you need to let family members and those close to you know about your condition so that they can help. I ate a lot of bird's nest and ram's horn to "cool down" during the period I had my chemotherapy and they helped me.
I do not smoke or drink and have always maintained my health through exercise. I look better than before and I started roller-blading last July. As a stoma patient, no one can tell that you are carrying a bag in front. Whenever I tell people about my condition, they were surprised. I would like to offer my time, if possible, to visit patients with the same condition as mine, before they go for their operations. Hopefully, I'll be able to give them the strength to carry on with life.
Due to radiotherapy, I was unable to control my bladder and it leaks all the time, so I have to wear pampers all the time. Yet I still travel. I even wear that to roller-blade. Yes it is an inconvenience but that is part of life and we live on.
I hope those who have to go through chemotherapy and operations will have the courage to live on, no matter what happens in the future ahead.