Lace Up For Change Ambassador
|My name is Faizel Jacobs from Cape Town, South Africa. On 6 May 2016 at the age of 42, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. By the grace of my Creator the problem was detected early, and with the support of some amazing people I am blessed to have in my life, I got through the removal of the tumour. The only remnant of that time is that I now have a colostomy bag - a permanent stoma.
Apart from having a Stoma, I have a fused left ankle due to an injury that happened almost 14 years ago. This means that I do not have a left ankle joint as this was “fixed” in place as part of the fusion procedure. Despite these limitations I continue to run - and by the grace of the Almighty I have successfully completed 3 Marathons, several half marathons and a Triathlon.
Over the next year I intend participating in several events that will challenge my abilities and stoma bag leaks, hoping to inspure others to overcome whatever limitations and challenges they face. At the same time I will be raising funds for a worthy cause.
Sharing my experience of my fight against cancer, and life with a stoma, I would like to see it influence people to change a mindset of keeping such things private. People asked me what a stoma is, and the easiest way to explain this is that as a guy, I now have what is termed a “Ken Butt” – females have a “Barbie Butt” in the ostomate community. My cancerous tumour was located in my rectum about 3 cms from my anus. Apart from removing the tumour, the surgeon also needed to remove my anus. This has left me with a bag attached to my left side into which I basically have to “poo” into.
A message from my oncologist a week after the surgery was: “You are so lucky that this was detected so early. You had an aggressive form of cancer with a high mortality rate. If this was not detected so early, the conversation we are having right now could have been so different.”
From the time of being diagnosed it was amazing to see the number of Google Medical PhDs there were, giving miracle cures, warnings about chemo, how bad it is, special diets etc. Even more ludicrous was being told not to speak so openly about it. This is a personal disease and its not right to let people know. SERIOUSLY!!!!!
We need to change this mindset that cancer is a death sentence. Chemo therapy is bad for you. Cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. Early detection and treatment is lifesaving. Not all Chemo treatments are going to make you throw up and loose you hair, as you get different kinds of cancer, you get different kinds of treatment. There is no need to hide that fact that you have been diagnosed. We tend to focus way too much on the negative implications and do not celebrate the warriors who have beaten cancer. We need to educate ourselves and not shy away from regular check-ups. Trust the fact that you know your body even better than your doctor, if something does not feel right have it checked and re-checked if necessary.
With early detection and treatment, cancer is not a life sentence! Likewise with other illnesses.
As I embark on this journey of endurance event participation, I pray that the Almighty grants me good health and strength to compete, not against anyone else, but rather against myself and my limitations.