"By sharing my story, I want to give other ostomates the hope and confidence to live life to the fullest and not to consider themselves handicapped. Life is good!" Being a double cancer survivor, 60-year-old Mr Ellil Mathiyan does not let the disease damper his positive and outgoing spirit. He strives to give back to the cancer community. He was the recipient of Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) Outstanding Volunteer Award 2018.


Ellil Website


Prior to Mr Mathiyan’s cancer diagnosis, he was fairly active involving in sports like swimming and squash. But he also smoked, drank, and was overweight. In 2011, when he received the news of his diagnosis with rectal cancer, he felt devastated and thought he would never have the ability to do many of the things that he used to do.


Mr Mathiyan was originally due to undergo surgery to remove the cancerous tumour along with his rectum. However, during a pre-surgery scan, doctors noticed a lump on the right side of his groin. The doctors were unable to determine if the lump was cancerous but removed it along with his rectum and the cancerous tumour. The surgery was successful, but then came bad news. The lump was indeed malignant.


Concurrently diagnosed with rectal and testicular cancer, Mr Mathiyan felt like he had been dealt with a triple whammy. Not only did he have to deal with both rectal and testicular cancer, he also had to live with wearing a permanent stoma bag, an appliance that was connected at the end of his colon to an artificially created opening in his abdomen in order to collect his stool discharge. Managing the faecal output with the stoma bag had proven to be a challenge for him, especially when he had to get out of the house.


Mr Mathiyan joined cancer support groups in SCS, Changi General Hospital and Singapore General Hospital. These support groups helped him realise that he was not alone in this fight. He has since devoted a large portion of his time to helping other cancer patients and survivors. Besides being an active volunteer for SCS, he is also the chairman of the SemiColons Support Group and founded the Ostomy Association of Singapore, a non-profit organisation that also provides support for people with similar conditions. 


Living with a stoma bag has been challenging, but Mr Mathiyan was determined not to let it prevent him from leading an active lifestyle. Brisk walking, kayaking, dragon-boating, line-dancing, Zumba, several half-marathons, a full-marathon – you name it, he’s done it.


“All these activities keep me occupied and give me a great sense of satisfaction and achievement. This is how I handle the change that my body has undergone and the need to wear a stoma bag for life,” reflected Mr Mathiyan.


Most notably, Mr Mathiyan along with a group of 19 individuals inclusive of cancer survivors, caregivers, and SCS charity athletes, braved the brutal climate of the Gobi Desert and trekked a total of 1,092km over 4 days in August 2018 to raise funds for SCS.


“I do it because I want people to know that, even with adverse health conditions, they can still lead an active life and live life to the fullest! It’s not the end of life as we know it," says Mr Mathiyan. “I hope this journey will inspire the survivors, and ordinary folks alike, to live full, healthy lives!”

About Semi-Colons Support Group

This support group aims to rehabilitate newly-treated colorectal cancer patients to enable them to adjust to a new quality of life. Members meet to share their personal experiences, exchange information, and gain insights into how their peers cope with their stomas and the common problems encountered.


Find out more or sign up for the Semi-Colon Support Group here: https://bit.ly/2lIkDFv

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