This 19-year-old found out he had cancer while serving NS but he thought it was just a cough

PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

He was supposed to be a teenager hitting a major milestone in his life, turning from an 'ah boy' to a man. However, 19-year-old Jules received some grave news after he enlisted for National Service (NS) and a persistent cough became stage 4 cancer.

Jules, who is now cancer-free, shared his journey on a Reddit post and said that the cough started a few days before he was due to enlist in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Oct 8, 2019. He described it as "possibly the worst cough" he ever had but decided against seeing the Medical Officer because he didn't want to be seen as slacking off.

Despite the cough, he admitted that he was "genuinely enjoying my time" in Basic Military Training at SPF. He added: "Physically, I was doing the best I could as I wanted to reach my goal of an IPPT score of 95. My first IPPT I was handed a score of 84 with which I was content but wanted to improve on."

The teenager finally went to seek medical help with his cough and the medication alleviated his symptoms. Things seemed to be better and his IPPT score even improved. However, he discovered that a lump suddenly appeared on his neck and his cough returned.

Jules decided to see the doctor again but the second round of antibiotics proved ineffective as the lump (which were swollen lymph nodes) was still there and didn't decrease in size.

He was referred to Changi General Hospital where after some tests, he was told that "it might be tuberculosis, or it might be a cancer of the lymph nodes".

"My face went pale, and I immediately felt the need to cry. We were not sure of it yet, so I told myself, 'I'm 18, fit and healthy. There is no way in hell I have cancer'," Jules shared. He was then sent to Singapore General Hospital where he met with an oncologist and after further testing, he was told that he had cancer.

This happened in January and Jules was alone at that time as his parents had something urgent to attend to overseas.

"My doctor asked my parents to fly down and I assumed the worst. She wanted my parents to be here with me while she announced the news... When my parents arrived, I was given the full diagnosis. Stage 4A Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The cancer had spread to to my neck, my lungs, my spine and the bone on my a**," he said, adding that he didn't think his cancer was that advanced since the symptoms seemed minor.

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Jules had to undergo chemotherapy and he described it as "the most unexpected, emotionally and physically painful experience" he had to endure. There were "multiple complications" which saw him staying in the hospital for a month and a half and he suffered many sleepless nights.

He said: "I went through my 12 rounds of chemotherapy as best as I could with the amazing support of my parents taking care of me." He also realised that trying to lead his life normally was "foolish" and to instead, "take things at my new pace of life".

Fortunately, nine months after his diagnosis, the treatment plan worked and Jules is now cancer-free. He was also discharged from NS, having been downgraded from PES A to PES F.

Jules shared that this ordeal, while entirely unwelcome, has changed him and taught him many lessons.

He wrote: "You truly don't appreciate life until it might be taken away from you. As cheesy as it sounds, it's true. I was given a second chance at life and never take a day for granted. Each day brings its own beautiful wonders and sometimes hardships.

"Just be thankful we are all alive and love the people around you as they are the ones who come forward in your time of need. Many lessons were learnt during my treatment and although I am not grateful for having had cancer, I appreciate much more who I am now than who I was before cancer."