Unlike most people in the face of a cancer diagnosis, 53-year-old Raymond Howe was unusually calm when told he had thyroid cancer early this year.Instead of spiralling into despair, the avid triathlete went ahead with an overseas marathon on the Great Wall of China 12 days before his scheduled surgery to remove his thyroid, which later revealed that the cancer had spread to the neck.
He continued to compete in other races shortly after undergoing surgery and treatment of radioactive iodine, which was used to kill any remaining thyroid cancer cells.
Worrying about the cancer diagnosis would mean allowing the disease to take control of his life for the second time, said Mr Howe, the chief operating officer of a real estate and hospitality development company.
A second-time cancer patient, Mr Howe had battled advanced-stage cancer 16 years ago. Besides a malignant growth on his face, cancerous cells were also found in his brain and lungs. The subsequent three years were a dark period for him as he struggled to cope with intensive chemotherapy while battling suicidal thoughts to end his own life.
“The shock I felt upon receiving news of another cancer diagnosis lasted just a few seconds. I’ve been mentally prepared since 16 years ago. Back then, I was told that I had a high chance of getting cancer again,” said Mr Howe, whose younger brother succumbed to brain cancer at age 20.
Inspired by American cancer survivor and athlete Lance Armstrong, he completed his first triathlon at the age of 42 after surviving his first cancer, and recently took part in the ASICS City Relay 2016, his 21st race for the year. “Whenever I think about getting cancer again, I would train even harder to try to beat the odds,” he said.