I was diagnosed with Nose Cancer back in 1994. The doctor advised me to go for Radio Therapy but I refused because in those days the chance of survival was very slim. I was not feeling weak, just a small lump on my neck so I decided to search for traditional cure. I drank all kind of herbs, from Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia and even went for acupuncture and various Chinese treatments.

Then in 1998 after 4 years of searching my neck grew bigger but I still refused to go for treatment. Then I heard there was a man who could cure cancer in China. I went there and my friends brought me to see this man. I stayed in China and had acupuncture treatment and some kind of strange treatment and drank all kind of herbs the man gave me. After 3 months my fitness became worse. I gave up and came home. Then I got weaker and started to faint often. I fainted once in a shopping centre, luckily my friend was with me. One day when I fainted, my family quickly brought me to my family doctor Kai Clinic in Katong. Dr. Ho told my family to send me to hospital immediately because my condition was very bad.

When the doctors in the hospital saw my condition they told my family my chances of survival were very slim. All they can do is to try their best. I had my first Chemo lying in hospital dying. Family and friends came and visit me and there were a lot of crying. I can hear them but did not respond. After 2 days I began to recover but on the 5th day I had very high fever and I just lie down again with lots of crying around me. But surprisingly the next day I felt better and I requested to go home. Some people say that people who are going to die always request to go home. Since the doctor had already done what they could for me, they allowed me to go back but told my family to bring me back if the situation worsens. Surprisingly I recovered very fast when I was home. Even the doctors say it was a miracle.

Then I started my Radio Therapy, I was so badly burn on my neck because of the old conventional Radio Therapy that I had to cut my T shirt to give more space in the neck region and I have to drink from the tube through my nose. After months of treatment I recovered and was able to eat as normal but the taste is different. One year after my treatment Prof Tan Eng Huat and Dr. Joseph Wee announce the success of treatment of Nose Cancer by radio and chemo in the Straits Times. It was probably that I was the first patient or guinea pig for this treatment. Nowadays when I go for my yearly check up, Prof Christopher Goh always tell the new doctor who attended to me that my case was special and it was a miracle how I was healed. If you don’t believe you can ask Prof Goh. Just tell him my name and my condition (the one with the biggest lump) all over the neck.

After years of my treatment I felt fit and normal. Not as fit as before but I was able to eat, talk, play games like normal but I can feel I was getting weaker as the years pass by. I thought it was because of my age. Then after 11 years in 2009, I lost my ability to speak properly and I cannot eat solid food. So for the past 2 ½ years I have been drinking Ensure milk for my daily meal and I would also buy bak kut teh, fishball, meatball or any kind of soup and bring home. My maid would grind all the solid food including vegetable to powder form then add the soup for me to drink. I would also buy fresh carrot, cucumber and grind them too and add them to the soup or the milk to drink. I don’t care much about taste anymore as long as I can fill my stomach. Of course I miss the flavour of food but what to do that is my life. For those who have lost your taste or are going through what I went through, please try this method as it will build your body strength.

I would like to share with those who had their treatment years ago. Don’t assume that you are already healed. You must continue to exercise and remain fit. The normal exercise is for the fitness of your heart and other parts of your body. But the side effect of radiation therapy will happen on your head region, your tongue, your neck and shoulder. So you must exercise these parts of your body too. To know how to exercise your tongue, just visit the speech therapist in the SGH. I regret I neglected all these exercises. How I wish I knew it before.

For those who had just been diagnosed with cancer, please seek treatment as soon as you can. Nowadays with new technology the side effect is very slim but as I mention, don’t take that as a guarantee, just do your exercises. Lastly don’t forget to brush your teeth at least 3 times a day especially after meal to strengthen your teeth. All my top teeth are gone. So through all these years I always thought it was because of my age. No it is the side effect of the treatment. I hope you will be encouraged with my sharing and remain strong and positive. Continue to live your life normally. And finally, remember to seek God for His blessing and strength. God bless you all and your family.

Contributed by Paul Tan / NPC survivor
Dated 27 October 2011
Survivor since 1994

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