michelle’s story

in my last post i introduced you to michelle.
a beautiful young woman with a gorgeous, infectious smile.

michelle found me through the ’shoots for a cure‘ network, where i’m a participating photographer. she wanted to share her story, and asked me if i would help her – and of course i’m honoured to do that! we had a portrait session, and michelle told me her story – and today i want to share it with you.

there’s a reason why i’m choosing today to share michelle’s story:
today is surgery day.

michelle is undergoing a massive, 8-hour-surgery, and facing a difficult recovery process afterwards. on her facebook page, she posted: ‚i need an army!‘
so i promised her to post this blog post today, and that everybody who reads it will send some positive vibes her way – everybody who reads it will join her army!

so, here’s michelle’s story – in her own words:

„I am 29, I was diagnosed with colon cancer stage III when I was 27. It was a huge deal for me and my family. I underwent a massive surgery and 12 sessions of chemo that left me in a state of a zombie for 6 months. I was really like ‚the walking dead‘. I felt like my world was about to end and my dreams and goals seemed really distant.


But, I got through it. I salute myself and the very important people in my life for supporting me.

How did I do it?

When I first was diagnosed, my husband and I were on a transition to migrating to Australia. But everything that I had going for me had to stop for this satanic drug that would take over my life for six whole months. There were days when I stayed in bed crying but there were also days when I knew I had to get out. I never stopped myself from attending parties, family events and the occasional frequenting of bars with my fantastic friends. Of course, no alcohol involved. I’d order a glass of water, still feeling sorry for myself.

It was through this time that I had to discover and realize that life doesn’t stop when you are sick. So what if I had a line running into my chest that discreetly released drugs directly into me every hour, I still had to have some kind of fun. My friends knew what I had on me. They would ask me about it from time to time worrying that I am suffering too much to be at a place with loud music. But I kept telling them that I was fine, because sometimes I was. I knew I had to be. I never told many people that I was sick. I was afraid of being pitied. I did not need the ‚extra‘ sadness and I also never wanted anyone to be awkward around me. I for one cannot deal with sentiments.

I talk about my dreaded illness with my close friends. I’d humour them about my toilet habits. It made me laugh too. It was the easiest way to get through this sickness and it was easy for friends and family to understand me. After all it was my bottom that had cancer- that is somewhat funny. So I did things I still would do if I wasn’t sick. I travelled on a plane with a drug pinned onto me, often thinking what if it explodes mid air. I partied and danced, I booked into a hotel and sat by the pool with my best friend, I sat  at coffee shops and had a good time despite being sick. There were odd days where I would have to leave to go home because nausea would come knocking but that didn’t stop me from having the bit of fun that I deserved.

singapore portrait photographer

Then it was over. I had killed cancer. I moved down under to join my husband, filled my new apartment with love, applied for schools to teach at, but it was short lived. In December 2014 I was struck again by another horrible news.

Here I am today with a colorectal cancer relapse, with metastasis to my liver. A little bit worse this time.

This time it was radiotherapy that drove me insane. The countless ER trips I made to the hospital at nights and the many pain jabs that left me in a state of ‚wonderland‘ kept everyone on an edge.

Getting through the days alone was difficult. I had to find ways to keep myself happy. Seeing how I was in the bedroom for the whole day, I knew I had to make it my happy place.  I bought new bedsheets and made sure it was the highest thread count. I’d lay in bed rubbing my legs on those sheets day and night. I bought lovely lamps to light my room, take long showers with candles, I had new speakers just so that I could blast my favorite music to drown out my thoughts. And Facebook was what I’d spend most of time going through, and learnt a lot about everyone’s lives on my list. Online shopping was the best thing- it was a discovery. I read up a lot about my illness. Googling every medical term on my countless reports. Searching for people who wrote blogs about the same disease, finding some light that I could shed on myself. I also decided to pursue my masters. Hey, I had time at my disposal! What else could I do to occupy myself?

I love food. I love eating. Why couldn’t I just have had toe cancer. Wouldn’t that be much easier than to stay away from the hokkien noodles down the road or the best nasi briyani that I look forward to each Sunday. Now that is hard. Things had to change. So I fervently juice and avoid the hawker. But, I have cheat days.

Staying positive was very important and it still is. Cancer doesn’t kill your good vibes. I make my days happy so that I can be a little more positive each day. I try to find happiness in everything I do today. If it doesn’t make me happy I don’t do it. Seeing the cute radio therapist at each session made me happy each time I knew I was going to be sick. Taking a taxi everywhere I go made me lazy but happy. When I get to meet my lovely friends I dress up, because being in pyjamas all day is just boring. Life doesn’t change. I see it the way I want to. Nurses often ask me, ‚are you really sick?‘ and that would just make my day!

My family has been the best and my friends have been fabulous. There are days where I tell them that I am thoroughly fed up with this disease. ‚Fight on‘ they say. That’s just what I’m doing today. Another surgery to go, and just maybe this time would I really be okay?“

michelle, i’ll be thinking of you and praying for you today!
your positive attitude and your strength are an inspiration.
and to everybody who reads this: please send michelle lots of positive vibes!
she needs an army!

portrait photographer singaporesingapore portrait photography

Zurich, Switzerland, and worldwide