Ewing Sarcoma: Stories of Hope - Treasuring What Matters

Contributed by: Dr Khoo Kei Siong

It was by accident that Gregory discovered he had Ewing’s Sarcoma. In 2005, he was offered a job in abu dhabi and had to undergo a pre-employment medical examination in Singapore. It was there that he learnt there was something unusual about his left upper arm.

Gregory, who was a father of two, later discovered he had a malignant tumour on his left upper arm.

“When I woke up from my biopsy, my mother and wife were crying,” Gregory recalled. “That was when I knew it wasn’t good news.”

“I did not know what hit me”

When Gregory began chemotherapy treatment, the experience could only be described by him to be “nasty”.

“I had to be on a long 20-hour IV drip, on a 3-week cycle. Within 24 hours of beginning my first infusion, I was throwing up non-stop. I did not know what hit me. Drinking water and even swallowing my own saliva was difficult. I also had high fever and found myself shivering non-stop.”

According to Dr Khoo Kei Siong, Deputy Medical Director and Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, undergoing chemotherapy is an experience that differs from patient to patient.

While typically, patients can benefit from preparing themselves mentally and emotionally by equipping themselves with knowledge about the treatment, oftentimes, patients do not truly know what to expect until they undergo it themselves.

By the time he finished his 3rd and 4th cycle, Gregory fortunately knew a lot more about what to expect than he did when he walked in for his first infusion 3 months before. Having the right support structure, for instance, helped in tackling the physical and mental obstacles he underwent.

“Having a sense of familiarity while undergoing treatment helps a lot in making you feel as comfortable as possible despite the struggles. When I was undergoing treatment, some of my friends would come over and sit in my room to watch football with me at 2 in the morning, even when they had work the next morning.

“I also found Christianity, which gave me inner strength within myself on top of the support of family and friends.”

Appreciating the little things

In between treatments, Gregory would take advantage of the days he has normal levels of immunity to send his daughters to school and walk to the nearby hawker centre to enjoy a plate of char kway teow.

“It becomes a routine where you know what to expect,” says Gregory. “I’m grateful that I get to slow down and appreciate the little things. If not for cancer, I’ll be working in corporate life, getting caught up in a rat’s race.

“It becomes a blur because you don’t get to see your children growing up. Because of my experiences, I’ve come to treasure family life and the things I have around me.”

Gregory was in remission after the 5-year mark following his last treatment. However, in 2013, he discovered something growing in his lungs and required immediate surgery. He continued to undergo chemotherapy in 2014, but experienced another 2 relapses in 2015 and 2018.

Fortunately, because of the multidisciplinary care and holistic support he received, he continues to thrive until today.

“The support I received helped treatment sound less scary and easier to accept. Furthermore, the trust you have built with your doctors over the years assures you you’re in good hands under their care.”

POSTED IN Up Close and Personal
TAGS cancer relapse, chemotherapy, sarcoma, Story of Hope, tumours