Most cancer patients will tell you, after a cancer diagnosis, it can often feel like the world is falling apart. The truth is, you are not alone. And above all, you must realize: there is still hope.
This is the story of Mariana Zaine and how colon cancer has given her a renewed hope and new positive outlook towards live.
When did you first discover you had colon cancer?
I was 49 when I was diagnosed with colon cancer, stage 3. I thought I was perfectly healthy until hearing that I had cancer. Prior to my diagnosis, I did experience some mild symptoms, like very slight stomach pain but when I consulted the doctors at the clinic, they gave me some gastric pills. However, that did not help to ease the pain.
Than in 2011, the pain grew excruciatingly painful. This was enough to alarm me that something was wrong. It was then, that my family urged me to consult a specialist. Following my appointment with the specialist, I was advised to get a colonoscopy. It was through the colonoscopy test, we discovered that I had colon cancer.
How did your life change with that diagnosis?
At first, when I heard it, I was in daze. It still did not register clearly in my mind that I had cancer. Only slowly it started to sync in that I actually have cancer. The thought of it made me very fearful. There were a lot of things I had not done in my life and especially for my children. The truth is my father suffered from prostate cancer. So fear really choked me.
What was your treatment like?
My tumour was detected on the left side. It was 7 centimetre in length. A week after my diagnosis, my doctor scheduled a surgery to remove it right away. One month after my surgery, I underwent chemotherapy, which lasted for 6 months. Through it all, the whole experience left me exhausted and weak. However, my family was my pillar of strength and support and they played a huge role in supporting me throughout this painful period of my life. From the time I was admitted to the hospital, they were constantly there, staying with me, accompanying me through my treatments and later for chemotherapy sessions.
Finding hope once again
After my cancer treatments were completed, I was still feeling at loss, like there was a sense of void or emptiness inside of me that needed to be filled. And so, I began to look for something more, like a place where I could get relieved, a place where I did not feel like I was alone on this journey.
And so, after skimming through the Internet, I stumbled on National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) and Pink Unity. It was here that I found myself and received the much needed emotional support I was looking for. The sharing sessions, helpdesk counselling as well as educational support provided by NCSM and Pink Unity really helped me become a stronger person and encouraged well through this tough journey. The support and care rendered to me here, did well to help me bounce back to live once again and gave me such renewed hope.
Moving forward and becoming an advocate for colon cancer
My cancer is now in remission and I am feeling good, confident, and living life to the fullest. My journey through colon cancer has really taught me a lot about life and especially the importance of having a good support network. Through NCSM and Pink Unity – I have made many friends, for whom I am indebted for their generous friendship and support.
What advice do you have for those who are diagnosed with cancer?
- Do not let a cancer diagnosis scare you. Be strong and it will help you get through it.
- Be educated about your disease. Do adequate research on the cancer you have and the treatment procedures and ask your doctor as many questions as you can, so you can be better prepared.
- Get early screening. Especially if your family has a history of colon cancer or any other form of cancer. Early screening can help you lessen your financial burden as cancer treatment can be very expensive.
- Get help and support from your family and friends as well as support groups or networks so you will not feel alone and besides you will be more confident after meeting others who have gone through cancer before.
Today, Mariana is a strong advocate of colonoscopies, speaking often to others about their importance. She now volunteers with Pink Unity where she talks openly about her experiences to encourage and motivate others to take care of their health and well-being and get screened early.
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