In 2007, it started with a high fever. His family persuaded him to go for a check-up. After a blood test, he was immediately admitted to the hospital. The next day, the doctors revealed that he had advanced stage colorectal cancer. That was the reality that Mr Loh Wan Heng, 64, had to go through.

Loh Wang Heng Website

Mr Loh’s colon and bladder was affected badly as a result of a large mass. However, due to the size of the tumour, surgery would have been risky. Mr Loh had to go through intensive chemotherapy and radiation to shrink the tumour, before the doctors could operate on him.

After his operation, he had to carry a urostomy bag and a colostomy bag. He felt that his condition deteriorated. He had no appetite and he lost a tremendous amount of weight. Mr Loh also felt pain in his throat every time he tried to eat. He recalled that he was just skin and bones.

Mr Loh revealed that the doctors asked if he would like to be referred to hospice/palliative care in the hospital. He refused as he wanted to “die at home”.

This was when Mr Loh felt like it was a turning point in his cancer journey.

On the third day at home, he remembers asking himself, “Am I just supposed to wait until my time is up?”

Not wanting that to happen, he asked his mother (his main caregiver) for something to eat. She placed 2 cream crackers and a cup of milo on the table. It took Mr Loh two and a half hours to finish that small amount of food. He described the hours as agonising, but he did not give up.

When he finished his food he felt a sense of accomplishment and told himself to just try harder the next time. Gradually, he started to eat little by little. He progressed to soft foods. Even the Doctors were surprised at his improvement.

Mr Loh explained, “I had a goal to achieve – I didn’t want to go off before my mom.” His mother gave him more willpower to fight his disease.

Before his diagnosis, Mr Loh had a very carefree lifestyle. After his diagnosis, he opens his every morning thanking for another day earned. He has been doing this for the past 12 years.  

During one of his hospital trips, Mr Loh was introduced to Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) by the then Chairman of the SCS Ostomy Club (a support group, now renamed SCS SemiColon Support Group). Mr Loh met many friend through the support group and describes the sessions as a fun gathering. He now tries to give back to the cancer community by being a committee member.

Reflecting his own cancer journey, he expresses, “I feel that cancer made me stronger. I believe that willpower can always beat all the odds. One thing I learn from my disease is that you must have a positive mind-set to defeat cancer. Determination and will power must be strong. Before that acceptance of your disease is important.”

His message to other cancer patients, “Be strong and stay positive. To not to be fearful for the unforeseen. Most importantly, accept the fact that you have cancer. Do not be afraid of the disease.”

About the SemiColons 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 here: https://bit.ly/2lIkDFv

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