Cancer is no longer a topic that’s only relevant to those above the age of 60. In fact, the then Perak state health committee chairman, Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon was quoted in The Star in 2015 as saying that “more people in their 20s and 30s are starting to suffer from cancer.” This was one of the reasons why cancer survivor Choo Mei Sze formed the Young Cancer Survivors Group in 2017.
“My journey to recovery was lonely. I only revealed what I suffered from to close family members and close friends who were supportive. It was an embarrassing issue for me so I sought solace from those I met online and overseas. I was surprised that the support groups overseas were really encouraging and we could share, joke and talk about what we went through,” she says. Through the Young Cancer Survivors Group, Mei Sze (who holds a PhD in Psychology) gives talks and shares her knowledge about the non-communicable disease.
Having first discovered that she had rectal cancer when she was 27 years old, she says, “I had diarrhoea for three weeks. The GPs said it was nothing, but my dad insisted that I get an endoscopy done. One thing led to another and eventually, finding out that I suffered from this broke me at first.” Mei Sze had to undergo two major surgeries – the first to remove the cancer and the second to join back the rectum and everything that was left in her rectum and intestines.
If that wasn’t hard enough on Mei Sze and her family, the last thing she expected to find out when she tried to claim for insurance for the costly surgeries was that her agent (who’s also her friend) had used the money she’d been paying him all this while for himself ! Mei Sze managed to get in touch with his manager who made an appeal to the insurance company.
“I got half of the money back after nine months and only the second half of the treatment was covered,” she shares. “When I asked him why he did it, all he had to say was that he needed the money to open a restaurant. I forgave him and we’re still in touch.” For someone who defines success as being healthy and happy, Mei Sze says that she’s elated for being able to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients, particularly the youths in the Young Cancer Survivors Group.
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