Mei Sze is one of those people that I really admire. She’s one heck of a hardworking and smart girl, and I first met her about eight (8) years ago when she was a freelance talent. Fast forward a couple of years later and Mei Sze is one of the founders of the digital agency PersonEDGE as well as an accomplished MC and blogger.
Back to Mei Sze being smart, this girl has brains as well as beauty and she has been pursuing her PhD in Developmental Psychology in the US – with her dissertation on cyber bullying – an issue that is close to her heart. Back in Kuala Lumpur, she has hosted, MC-ed, acted, modelled and done voice over’s for major brands including Siemens, Blackberry and Mercedes-Benz. She has graced also the covers of notable Malaysian magazines such as CLEO and conducted interviews with the press, both as an up-and-coming personality and as a face to watch in the industry.
She is a TV presenter and she also voiced the cartoon character Lisa on Astro Tutor TV. Always wanting to help others especially youth, Mei Sze also writes a column for youth magazine MYC, and passionately raises awareness of issues pertaining to the youth through the media.
Life was good for Mei Sze but shockingly she was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 27 after a year-long bout of diarrhoea which prompted her to have a colonoscopy. Without any history of cancer in the family, the doctor’s announcement came as a major shock to her, her family and us friends (ed. she is the youngest person that I know who had cancer). While colon cancer is the second most common type of cancer after breast cancer (according to the statistics on http://www.cancer.org.my), only 10% of all colon cancer cases occur in those below 50 years old.
After two surgeries due to complications including the removal of her entire rectum and 12cm of her large intestines, Mei Sze pulled through the harrowing ordeal with the support of her family, boyfriend (now husband) and her friends. I must admit that I was really very worried about her when seeing her so frail and thin when I visited her after her first surgery but I’m so happy that she’s pretty much back to pre-surgery weight.
Mei Sze shared her ordeal on her website www.meisze.com which garnered a lot of attention from readers so much so that it was even picked up by the media in Singapore who hailed her brave spirit in confronting her illness. Her story, which to her surprise, has served as a beacon of hope for those facing health issues.
Choo Mei Sze never wanted to share her story, but when she did, an overwhelming response from the public made her realise she was doing what she wanted to do all along – to help people. So she created the #ShareStrength movement, as a platform to uplift people in their darkest hours and give strength to those who feel helpless and/or alone.
To kick-off #ShareStrength, Mei Sze is getting the ball rolling with ‘A New Norm’ – a 5-part web series features never-before-shared stories from Mei Sze herself. A collaboration with talent management company, Suppagood Talent, ‘A New Norm’ was launched on the 28 January 2016, while the second episode airs on the 4th of February, in conjunction with World Cancer Day. The remainder will be released once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks.
Now a year and a half cancer-free, the recovery process is still underway. “There aren’t many guidelines on how to deal with colon cancer, especially while wearing a colostomy bag, and post-surgery, for those my age in Malaysia/Asia. I felt really alone through the whole process,” says Mei Sze. She adds: “My life is now adjusting to a new norm; my body is not the same, and never will be. Hence, the title of the web series”.
‘A New Norm’ chronicles the emotional ups and downs Mei Sze went through during her battle against colon cancer. The web series highlights her journey from understanding and accepting cancer to finding her silver lining.
Mei Sze reminisces: “Recounting and telling the stories were really hard, because I had to draw on all the horrible experiences I’d already buried away. I cried when I watched the first cut of the webisode. My husband (my then-boyfriend) wanted to shut it off, and couldn’t watch!” Despite that, she also understands that this special project close to her heart will undoubtedly help many who are going through similar struggles.
#ShareStrength is a movement that Mei Sze believes will help save lives. Malaysians, if not Asians, tend to not share their stories for fear of appearing weak. #ShareStrength serves as a platform for anyone who has a painful story to share (not just cancer survival stories), and in doing so will help countless more.
Her story has touched many people including another then-cancer patient who was inspired by Mei Sze’s blog. Now in her 2nd year of remission, she shared how the blog helped raise her spirits by making her feel like she wasn’t alone.
“That is the strength of just one person’s story, and it changed someone’s life. That was our ‘aha’ moment, and we (Suppagood Talent) knew the #ShareStrength movement would be something that would affect so many more lives. What better way to do so than with a series of videos which is able to convey so much”, said Sarah Lian, Executive Producer of ‘A New Norm’ and Founder of Suppagood Talent.
For those wanting to share their stories, feel free to drop Mei Sze a note so she can help post it – or utilise social media and tag #ShareStrength. “You never know whom you may end up saving,” Mei Sze adds.
This movement is also supported by THE BAR°N, CURVES, The Laureate, and Beacon Hospital.
Now here’s a look at the first episode.
To watch the other episodes or for more information on how you can participate in the #ShareStrength movement, head over to www.meisze.com where the videos will be shared on following dates:
Episode 2 – 4 Feb 2016, 8.00pm (World Cancer Day)
Episode 3 – 11 Feb 2016, 8.00pm
Episode 4 – 18 Feb 2016, 8.00pm
Episode 5 – 25 Feb 2016, 8.00pm
You can also follow Mei Sze on her social media pages:
Mei Sze’s Instagram: @choomeisze
Mei Sze’s Facbook: www.facebook.com/choomeisze