Acknowledging The Two Sides of Young Cancer Survivors Group and Life

Slightly more than a year ago, I wrote about HITT boxing with LiquidCage as part our National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) activity for the young cancer survivors. We don’t usually repeat our activities but we did HITT boxing again last month with the same instructor but at his new place: HIITREBEL.

Thanks to the previous experience, I knew what to expect this round. I knew I’m in to sweat a bucket, especially because I haven’t been working out for quite a while.

And I did.

Group photo after the sweat session.

But the feeling was different this round as I threw my punches, simply because even though we were doing similar thing with the same instructor, I realized something changed.

The people around me changed.

Caution: This is an emo post.

If I remember it right, the first HIIT boxing class was the first time I met Jamie, an expat teacher who was diagnosed with breast cancer in Malaysia. She just completed her treatment and joined us for that intense workout. She wasn’t in her 100% but her incredible energy still radiated through as she went through the session. Unfortunately, she has left us when her cancer returned with a vengeance. I definitely felt her absence during the boxing session…

Another memory that hit me was CK, a lymphoma cancer survivor who doesn’t know when and how to stop. Just like how he has beaten cancer three times so far, he was relentless with his punches the last round. He was sweating so much that his mat was drenched… He was the reason I punched hard the last round and I sure missed having him to push me forward but too bad he was not in town!

While these memories fueled me to punched fiercer this round, I was also inspired by the fact that we had survivors like Mandy who is living and thriving with metasized lymphoma cancer tumour pressing on her chest. I didn’t see her punch but I’m sure she didn’t miss a beat and did better than me. If she was there punching in the studio somewhere, there was no reason for anyone of us (especially the three healthy “caregivers” I brought along) to complain. She’s so crazy strong mentally to outlive her “expiry date” by close to three years now! Her story is recently captured by Mei Sze so check it out!

So here’s the thing about being in a young cancer survivors group. There are two sides to it: we get inspired and moved by all the thrivers and survivors who kick cancer on the ass time and again, but we also get frightened and saddened by the many cases of cancer recurrence and demise.

But that’s life. There’s up and there’s down. Nothing (good or bad) is permanent. And cancer does a pretty good job at teaching all of us young cancer survivors this lesson, fast and early. I now know and accept that our group will never be the same year on year. We have new members who would join us and old members who would leave us, anytime without any or much warning.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trading this amazing support system for anything else. Just penning down a point of view for those who can resonate and for those who would like to understand better.

“We stay ready so we don’t need to get ready” speaks to us more on emotional level that fitness level for sure.

Cheers for a bright prognosis for all cancer survivors. ❀️

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