Heather Humphries, Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman
The New Paper
6 February 2015
She was only 27 when she was told she had colon cancer last June.
Her world came crashing down, but Choo Mei Sze fought back hard with positivity and has gone public so that she can help others who are in the same situation.
The motivation is spurred by her experience at the lowest point in her life, the 28-year-old Malaysian blogger, emcee and TV personality told The New Paper in a telephone interview from Kuala Lumpur.
"When I had my colostomy bag, all I wanted was to talk to someone who was going through a similar experience," said Choo, who is recovering after two operations.
"I wish I knew what it was like before the surgery, as I would have been better prepared for it."
She hopes that by charting her battle on her blog and Facebook accounts, the social media platforms can act as a magnet for other cancer survivors and their family members to share their experiences.
Her story has gone viral and has been a source of outreach even to readers here.
Choo said: "I'm actually amazed with the reach this article has. Now, my readership in Singapore has surpassed the readership in Malaysia."
She recounted how her nightmare began from a colonoscopy after a long bout of diarrhoea.
The PhD student in psychology said: "The specialist discouraged me from having the colonoscopy as it was an invasive procedure, and I was too young for it. But my father insisted."
Then came the shock.
Choo added: "I think my doctor didn't know how to tell me. He came in looking at my folder and said, 'Mei Sze, you are so young but you have a tumour a third the size of your colon'."
For a moment, the words did not sink in, until she heard the doctor say "biopsy". It was then that the severity of her condition registered.
"That's when I knew it was serious. I started crying," said Choo.
After she got over her initial shock, she did not allow herself to sink into despair. Determined to fight the cancer, she adopted a positive approach and focused on getting better.
She said: "When it was confirmed that the tumour was cancerous, I made a vow not to cry, but to find a solution. I knew if I cried every day, it would have made me feel worse."
Her boyfriend, real estate agent Ben Lim, 28, said: "I was really upset when the doctor broke the news to us. She had to console me."
Choo also did not let up on her work commitments. In the eight days between her diagnosis and first surgery, she hosted two major events with a smile. She did not tell her clients about her illness and no one suspected it.
But she was taken aback when she had to wear a colostomy bag for almost two months, following complications from her first surgery.
Choo said: "I did not expect that. I had no one to share my fears and pain with. My insides were literally sticking out into a bag. It was the most challenging period of my life, mostly mentally and psychologically."
But Choo is now able to look back at it with a laugh. She said: "My mother and boyfriend had to become part-time nurses during the first few weeks, to help change the dressing."
Mr Lim said: "Over time, after seeing how positive she was, it encouraged us to be more positive and support her."
After her second surgery - a colostomy reversal in August - she took the time to recover before sharing the major event in her life on her blog last month.
Mr Lim said: "Her mindset was right. She really wanted to recover and to leave the hospital as soon as possible. And she did."
Added Miss Choo: "By sharing now, I hope others who read my blog and may be going through this can find someone to talk to."
She said: "I have cancer survivors who are in their 20s telling me that I give them inspiration and hope."
There are also others who approach her for advice on getting tested.
Choo is touched by every e-mail or comment she gets, so she takes the time to respond to all of them. The key message she tries to deliver to all those who have approached her is: Positivity.
She said: "Think positive and live each day as it comes. I truly appreciate the little things now. Walking, eating, drinking and even driving."
See the gallery below for more images of the pretty blogger.
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