“My Voice” by Meghan Cheung

Meghan Cheung - 'Survivor'

After an ultrasound, CT scan, gastroscopy, and MRI, I had an emergency appointment at the cancer centre.  I met the doctor and the nurse who are both awesome.  Fun Fact: My mom taught my doctor when he was in high school! The doctor explained that I had a tumour that was touching my stomach and possibly my pancreas and that I would have to have surgery to remove it in the very near future.  We had already planned a trip that would begin in a few days that would last about a week.  He still let me go on the trip but I wasn’t allowed to bungee jump or go on any roller-coasters.  Awwwwwwwwwwww man!!  Actually, the only roller-coaster I have ever been on is one of those mini kid’s roller-coasters.  The day after I came back from the trip I had to go in for my pre-op appointment where I got a two litre jug of nastiness to drink to “clean out my system” before surgery the next morning.  The surgery was successful.  They got out the whole tumour and had to take out part of my stomach.  However, the surgery took a little longer than expected because the tumour was touching a nerve and it was a bit tricky to get around.  They had to take out part of that nerve too.  For some reason I didn’t think that the surgery would be so big.  I had all kinds of tubes going in and out of me.  I couldn’t move that well and I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink at all.  I knew I was pretty sick when the nurse put Vaseline on my lips with her finger.  Gah!  I have been diagnosed with OCD and any other day I would have freaked out if someone tried to do something like that!  I don’t think I even cringed or even really thought about it.  I knew I was getting better when some of the obsessions and compulsions were coming back.  After a few days I was able to walk from my bed to the door of the room with the help of a walker and a nurse or my parents without getting too tired or too nauseous.  And after about four days post-op, the super annoying tube in my nose and down my throat got to come out!  I got to have my first taste of water after almost a week.  Yum!  That was probably one of the best drinks that I have ever had.  And they brought me a little cup of Jello.  Delicious!!  After not eating for a few days, hospital food is awesome.

I got to go home after being in the hospital for a week.  Yay for showers.  Boo for drug withdrawal.  I was slowly regaining back my strength to walk down the street.  I was also on a post-gastrectomy diet now.  Small meals and eating and drinking had to be separated.  Certain foods, like sugar, were also cut of my diet now and would slowly be allowed into my diet again after a few weeks.  Since not being allowed to have sugar for a while, I really like sugar now.  Tee-Hee.  At my follow up appointment we found out that the tumour was cancerous and it was a gastrointestinal stromal tumour (gist), a sarcoma and rare form of cancer.  No chemo or radiation would be done.  Many gist patients are prescribed Gleevec; however, my tumour was negative for the markers the drug works on and so it would not be effective on me.  I still get stomach aches and pains since my stomach does not work as well as before because of the surgery.  I have check up scans and appointments every six months and I have just celebrated my three year mark.

I have had the opportunity to meet some great people since being diagnosed.  Unfortunately, some have passed away because of their cancer.  I have also lost a grandfather because of a brain tumour and another grandfather from colon cancer. Like Peter Parker said “Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’  This is my gift, my curse. …”  I volunteer for a couple cancer organizations and have a website, www.meghanhasocd.org, where I provide information and resources for cancer and mental illness. I also interview those who have had a first hand experience with these issues in hope that it may help someone who is currently going through a similar experience.  It’s about sharing our stories to anybody who will listen and listening to anybody who wants to share.  As Troy Bolton and the rest of the High School Musical cast remind us, “We’re all in this together.”