As noted in my previous post, Humans of Kuala Lumpur interviewed me for my cancer story to be published on their Facebook page.
Here’s the post…
My hair has grown many inches between the time I was interviewed by Humans of KL and the time the interview was posted on their Facebook 😂. The interview actually happened 1 whole year ago! I just realized when I track back the youth support group event at Curves. 😲
Anyway, Humans of KL checked back with me on the interview notes before publishing so I verified the content of the post. Reading back what I told them was interesting because things have changed in the past 11+ months.
Here’s the excerpt if you can’t quite read the caption in the post above:
My name is Staci Tan and I am 26 this year. I was 25 when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.
A few months into my job in a media agency as a media planner, I was sent for a medical check up where subsequently I was diagnosed.
The tumour was as big as my fist and it was removed alongside 27cm of my colon. I was in hospital for 10 days and took 6 weeks off work for recovery. This was in January 2016.
In March 2016, I started 12 cycles of chemotherapy every 2 weeks. I did not stop work because it was manageable.
Working actually helped me feel normal, because sitting at home just wasn’t doing me any good.
One week I would go for chemo and the second week I would go back to work.
The first week after chemo, for the first two days I would feel really tired and don’t feel like working but by the third day I actually felt like I could get the hang of it.
Work gave me a sense of normalcy and it helped me to recover.
This lasted till Sept 2016. You will find a scar at my collarbone – this is the chemo port.
Nurses put in the needles into the port under my skin to conduct chemotherapy. I still have it with me till today; the doctor wants me to keep it up to five years, just in case.
Until I surgically remove it, I have to flush it at the hospital every 3 months.
I feel more normal every day, and sometimes forget about the cancer experiences I had to go through.
But I wouldn’t say I’ve moved on. It gets more infrequent but sometimes you just have a dilemma whether to push your limits or to hold back your ambitions.
I guess that’s the struggle for young cancer survivors. We’re too young to retire and have a lot of things that we still want to achieve but we’re afraid if pushing the limits will cause a relapse.
I find it kind of funny but I felt most blessed and lucky when I was diagnosed with cancer.
There were many things to be thankful about — being diagnosed before it spread further, having just enough insurance coverage for the treatment, meeting great doctors, having a good job, having supportive bosses and colleagues, family to take care of me, lovely friends to check on me and many more.
When my colleagues or friends hear of my cancer stories, they would say “you’re so strong”, and I always hesitate to reply because I think everyone has their own stories of being strong. Mine happens to be cancer.
For others, it may be depression, body image issue, or family affairs. We all have stories of strength in our own ways. Stay strong. You never know who you’re inspiring”.
– Humans of Kuala Lumpur went down and spoke with a trio of female cancer survivors from the National Cancer Society Malaysia. These are their stories.
Staci runs her own personal blog documenting her journey, visit it at https://kyension.com/category/sharestrength/
Photostory taken by Sofia Irfan, with editorial assistance from Mushamir Mustafa
Regardless, the following reflections have not changed:
- I felt most thankful and blessed when I was diagnosed with cancer. In many ways, I felt cancer came at the right time — when I was the readiest. Honestly, I surprised myself with how optimistic I was. I really should have written a gratitude post when every minute I was counting the endless list of things I was grateful for.
- Everybody has a story of strength; mine happened to be surviving cancer. In fact, I sometimes tell people that I got the easier way out because I had a team of professionals who had an extensive plan ready to fix me. I can’t say the same for people who have self-esteem issue, history of childhood abuse, underprivileged livelihood, problem finding love or any other big or small issues you can think of.
I liked how Humans of KL crafted the content direction too. The entire entry came about based on a few questions that I was asked to answer at length. The journalist then asked me for a quote on being strong and in the midst of me rushing out a task at work, I told him a quote my boss picked for me more than a year ago:
Be Strong. You never know who you’re inspiring.
Prior to my post, Humans of KL also covered Wei Qing’s and Mei Sze’s stories.
Thank you all who have left encouraging messages! Glad that these sharings made positive impacts in lives of a handful. That’s the spirit of #sharestrength, isn’t it?