I was fifteen when I started experiencing some pain in my stomach. I thought it was a normal stomachache. I did notice that my stomach was getting bigger but I thought I was just getting fatter. My mum wanted to take me to the clinic but I refused to go as I insisted the pain was bearable. In school, I started going to the toilet frequently, and my friends commented that I was looking rather pale. But I told them all I needed was to rest in class and that the pain only came occasionally.
I didn’t go to school the next few days. My dad took me to see the doctor, and I told her I was having diarrhoea. When she pressed my stomach, she thought something didn’t feel right and so she made me lie down as she retrieved the ultrasound scan. I was horrified because I knew it was for scanning for babies and wondered why she had to use that machine on me.
The scan didn’t show anything peculiar, even though the doctor suspected there was a cyst in my abdomen. She explained to my dad that a normal bloated stomach would deflate when pressed. But mine didn’t. Instead, it felt hard. When she told me I needed a blood test, I started to cry because I was terrified of needles. I went home that day, utterly stumped and confused.
Following the release of the blood test result, we went to Normah Medical Specialist Centre for another scan. The doctor said it was best to have the cyst removed immediately as the cyst was quite big.
Blood tests and a scan revealed a cysts that had to be operated on immediately as it looked to be quite large.
That night, I was admitted to Sarawak General Hospital where I underwent surgery the next morning. I spent four days at gynaecological ward recovering, before I was transferred to the paediatrics ward for chemotherapy.
I can remember very clearly the date of my transfer: it was my father’s birthday. I was so upset that we couldn’t spend time together to celebrate that special day and I felt I was a burden to my family.
While I was at the ward, the other patients often made me think: if they could go through it, why couldn’t I? The other thing that kept me going, were my friends who were always available to cheer me up when I was down.
There was one thing that I tried to keep in mind all the time: God will not give us more than we can handle. Because of that, I tried to stay positive and not dwell on being sick. I even asked the doctor to let me go back to school so I could keep my mind off my sickness and be surrounded by friends like a normal student.
After my treatment was over, and when I was physically fit enough, I took part in the annual SCCS Youth Camp. Through this camp, I got to meet other survivors, and we shared our experiences during the treatment, what we face at school, and how we get through our daily routine even when we were under treatment. I also learnt about teamwork, overcoming my fears, and becoming more confident through the camp activities. This made me believe that we can live our life as normally as possible, as long as we believe in ourselves.
The camp was organised by the Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society, and they have helped me and my family a great deal. They have given us the moral support and financial assistance wherever necessary. The events and activities they organise help keep our spirits up, and for me, it is very important to keep a positive mindset through such a difficult time.
My battle with cancer has taught me many things. As children, we must be obedient towards our parents. They really love us and care for us. We must also take care of our diet. Avoid junk food, carbonated drinks, oily food, and chocolates. I know this sounds kind of sad, but our health depends on it. Drink plenty of water. Like, a lot of water. Another thing I learnt is that we shouldn’t give up so easily when we are going through tough times. Always pray for the best. We have our family, friends, and the people around us to help us.
I can vouch for this because the person who is always there for me is my mum. She would take leave from her work to take care of me. The other person is my dad. Every time I have to undergo chemotherapy, he would take care of my siblings at home, and go back and forth to deliver food to the hospital for me. My parents are my best motivation. They go through a lot to take care of me and they do so without complaint.
To those who are battling cancer, don’t give up. We are stronger than we think. I know it’s hard, but I also know you can handle it. Keep in mind the things you have always wanted to do with your loved ones. Live your life as a normal person, treat yourself as a healthy person, and enjoy your life.
And to the family members who tirelessly care for them, try not to think of the sickness, but instead, think of how you could support them. Most importantly, don’t forget to pray for strength, courage, and perseverance. Remember: God only gives us what we can handle.