HOPE and COPE are two very apt words that best describe the mission of the NPC Support Group and what we represent.
Started five years ago, the NPC Support Group aims to de-mystify nose cancer so that new patients and other survivors can look forward to enjoying a better quality of life. We believe that no one needs to make their cancer journey alone, as the Support Group has amassed five years of collective experiences from cancer survivors and caregivers which is enough to give anyone who now contracts nose cancer the HOPE to carry on with life and to COPE with a new life.
- Acceptance – hoping for the best
Acceptance is the first step to acknowledging that one has contracted nose cancer. This will pave the way for the person to be rational in handling the situation in a practical manner. I have met new patients before who live in a state of denial. They often struggle to come to terms with their cancer and are not able to handle their emotions well. I tell them that nothing they say or do will change the fact that they have contracted nose cancer. Often they need to be jolted to make them aware of the reality of their situation.
In the past, contracting cancer almost meant certain death. But this has changed with the advances in medical science and treatment. Now if the cancer is discovered early enough and treated, there is a good chance of survival and leading a quality life. For example, the NPC Support Group today has many survivors who are all alive and well. Our oldest member is now a 20-year survivor and many others have survived between 15 – 19 years, and above the 10-year mark as well. I myself am a seven-year survivor.
So for many survivors, we live in HOPE for the best outcome of our life. But we do also prepare for the worst. This is being real and practical. If there is any blessing from cancer, it gives us a notice period so that we can plan ahead to ensure that our family and loved ones are provided after us. It has changed our perspective in life.
- Mind over body – the fighting spirit
There have been many brave stories of cancer survivors testifying that they have a strong will and fighting spirit. It is the very reason why they are still very much alive. Yes, our fighting spirit or our mind over body is our key to success. Instead of feeling depressed and crying over something that you cannot change (that you have contracted nose cancer), it is better to channel your thoughts and energies to how one can COPE in order to lead a quality life.
Many of us in the Support Group have since learnt to live a quality filled life. Many have also embraced a good work-life balance, spending more time on themselves and their loved ones over continuous hours at work. It has been said that one lives twice longer with a positive mind. And I believe that this should be the emblem in all our heads and hearts.
- Faith in one’s God – your anchor
This is the time to press deep in one’s faith in God, whichever is your religious belief. I have observed that when a person contracts a major illness like cancer, they usually turn to religion. There they often find inner peace, comfort and a quiet sense of strength. Isn’t God wonderful, to be able to calm our nerves and give us peace in such troubled circumstances?
After the radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy treatments are completed, we look forward to returning to our normal life as soon as possible. But many of us are not sure what we need to do to return to our normal life. I know of many who struggle as they are confronted with more advice from loved ones, friends and relatives on what they can and cannot eat and what they can and cannot do. Unfortunately, whilst our loved ones, friends and relatives mean well, they are not cancer survivors and what they share is often hearsay from other friends.
The doctors too, are not able to help us COPE after treatment. This is because they are trained only to treat the tumour and have no experience in managing post-recovery care. The answer to COPE lies within all of us survivors. I know of many survivors who have experimented, or learnt from other survivors. Sometimes they succeed and at other times they try again. So within the NPC Support Group of 180 members, comprising 140 survivors and 40 caregivers, we come together each month to share and learn from one another. Not only about food and diet but also how we manage and COPE with our new life.
It is so wonderful to learn from one another because only a nose cancer survivor can understand what a cancer patient is going through. It gives confidence and comfort to new patients, and other survivors, that other people have made the journey before, and they can now walk the same path without fear, knowing what to expect ahead. To all nose cancer survivors, I would urge you to come forward to be part of the support group where we can encourage one another to live our life in HOPE and learn to COPE for a better quality of life. Together, we can de-mystify nose cancer and help others after us to make their own journey with confidence.
Calling himself a Nose Cancer Ambassador, Thiam Chye aims to de-mystify nose cancer by encouraging all survivors to share their personal experiences in their fight against cancer, to enable new patients to undergo their treatment with courage and minimal pain, and to lead a better quality of life on recovery. Should you wish to join the support group in its activities, or need guidance on this article, please email him at
Read on to find out more about the
Nose Cancer (NPC) Support group.