Should I continue writing and not procrastinate, I want to tell all the cancer survivors out there, that there is life after cancer. You may have permanent scars on your body (as for me, I have a 12-inch scar from my chin stretched right underneath my right ear), you may suffer from side effects (my hearing and taste bud were impaired, my mouth is always dry due to non-production of the saliva) or you may even have emotional scars from going through so much. You may find that others (your family, friends, colleagues, etc) think of you differently and treat you in a different way. But it is not the end of the world. Life can be better, so long as we have faith in the Almighty and most importantly, faith in yourself.
To tell you the truth, I was feeling so depressed post-treatment as I expected my life to return back to normal. To the way it used to be before I was diagnosed with cancer. But having that kind of expectation only frustrates me and makes me feel bad about myself. Post-treatment, I couldn’t eat straightaway, I couldn’t run straightaway, I couldn’t be active straightaway. Like I said, I wanted life to be back to normal, so bad that I forgot the reality – I had suffered because of cancer. Then, I learnt to accept myself the way it is; imperfection and all. I set smaller goals to achieve, like instead of expecting to eat a Big Mac straightaway, I start small by eating porridge (cause all this while I’d been eating BLENDED porridge during treatment) then I moved to eating soft rice. The first few months after treatment was a time of change for me and I try to embrace it. It’s not so much of “getting back to normal life” like I anticipated, it’s more of finding out what’s “normal” for me NOW. My new “normal” includes making changes in the way I eat, the things I do, the way I talk. Life has new meaning and I look at things differently now. Cancer has changed me as a person.
I will definitely write about my experience, especially after I found out that my story inspire others and becomes a point of reference for new cancer patients. If I can do it, so can you! But for now, I will write about what I've been up to recently – running the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (10km run - Women Open on 26 June 2011)
When I was having chemo and radiotherapy, I quit doing almost everything! I was too tired, sick and in pain most of the times to even open my mouth to speak! One day, when I was feeling down while being hospitalized at SDMC (sometime in December 2010) for side effects of chemo - fatigue, nausea and (bloody!) ulcers in my mouth, Azmir, my boyfriend (now fiancé) asked me what seems like the most ridiculous question ever:
Azmir : “Aida, my dear. Will you run with me? Let’s register ourselves in advance for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon in June 2011!”
Me: “What?? Are you crazy?? Can’t you see that I’m sick? Can’t you see that my neck is still stiff from the surgery and the radiotherapy?? I have cancer Azmir, things will never be the same again” (dramatic mode)
Azmir: “Have faith in yourself. I’m sure you’ll recover by June and we’ll run side-by-side. Worst case scenario, we’ll just collect the goodie bags and skip the marathon. Sounds like a plan?”
Me: “Yeah yeah, whatever. If you think I can run and be fit and healthy again by June, you’re just kidding yourself. Don’t give yourself false hope; you’ll be disappointed one day” (negative mode)
After completing treatment, I kind of forgot that Azmir registered us for the run but with his help and constant reminder, I started to train almost every evening with him (this first started in April 2011). At first, I can’t even walk! My neck hurts so bad that I always felt like giving up. But as time goes by, not only can I run but I even managed to complete the 10km run (completed the run in 1:21:10 and was number 409 out of 3910 for Women Open) and received a finisher medal! I am so proud of myself!
And Azmir ran by my side the whole time! He had the choice to run solo and complete the run earlier but no, he pushed me to my limit, pulling my hand when I was slacking, and encouraged me when I told myself I can’t. So Azmir, I wouldn’t have completed the race, or go through cancer for that matter, if it wasn’t for you. I love you.