Oldest Manhunt finalist is stronger after cancer
In line with this year's theme of 'Changing Lives', three Manhunt and Senior Manhunt Singapore finalists open up about their struggles
MR ARUN ROSIAH
At 52, the father of three teenagers is the oldest finalist this year. But Mr Rosiah, who is 1.7m tall and weights 62kg, boasts the physique of a man half his age.
An avid marathoner who constantly works out, Mr Rosiah's profession as a physical education teacher also helps him keep up with fitness and sports science.
In November 2015, when Mr Rosiah was about to start his master's in exercise and sports science, he was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer.
About a month later, he started on his "intensive" 28 sessions of radiation therapy with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which he described as "horrendous and extreme pain".
This was followed by surgery to remove a remnant tumour and 20cm of his colon in April last year.
An ileostomy, also known as a stoma, was also inserted into the right side of his abdomen.
His anus was sealed, and the intestinal waste was passed out through the stoma bag. He now has a scar there.
Mr Rosiah had to make drastic adjustments to his diet, and his robust physical lifestyle took a hit too.
He said: "Overnight, I had to let go of my 20 years of healthy and high-fibre eating of food such as vegetables and fruits...
"Over eight months, I constantly learnt how to adapt and recalibrate my body, soul and mind to lead a normal lifestyle. It was a challenge, but I persevered."
From June last year, he underwent five more sessions of adjuvant chemotherapy, which led to side effects that "totally floored" him.
They included nausea, mouth sores and neuropathy (nerve damage), which caused numbness, tingling and pain in his hands and feet that was "totally unbearable".
Mr Rosiah said: "Many a time, I choked on my own saliva and food as a result of this nerve damage."
Even though his last chemotherapy cycle was in September last year, he still experiences numbness and tingling sensations in his hands and feet.
He did reverse stoma surgery in December, and he is still trying to regain full use of his bowel system while facing the occasional constipation and diarrhoea.
Mr Rosiah, who is in remission, said: "I am not the kind of person to dwell on the negatives of my cancer journey.
"On the contrary, it brought out the best qualities in me, such as humility, empathy, calmness, acceptance, patience and more. It has made me a better husband, father and human over all...
"I am really fortunate to be alive, and my new motto in life is to make more friends and contribute back to society."
He strongly believes he can do more to dispel the misconceptions, taboos and embarrassment associated with colorectal cancer, and he wants to represent the "new normal".
He said: "I hope to inspire fellow patients, survivors and even their caregivers to believe in themselves that there is life even after cancer strikes."