Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fight Like Hell

Somebody said to me that those who survive from cancer are patients who either fight like hell or are in complete ignorant (they are not aware that they have cancer). Since there is no way for me to be in the second category, I have no choice but to fight like hell. And fight I will...

One thing for sure is that I am not alone in this battle. I have my family and friends who are also in this battle supplying ammunition whenever possible. My husband tirelessly goes all out to make sure that I don't give up. Why are people scared of cancer? Why is cancer considered a death sentence? For one thing, cancer is a horrible disease and the treatments are just as horrible. And mouth cancer is even worse because the surgery itself is debilitating. For people afflicted with mouth cancer, losing their tongue or part of the tongue is very common. The probability of recurrence is also quite high. So, to prevent recurrence, the mouth cancer patients are subjected to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This will kill your appetite totally and then, you will have the painful ulcers to deal with.

In my opinion, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are only effective for short term. Therefore, completing all the treatments is not the end of the story yet. You will have to change your lifestyle and your mindset. Lifestyle includes the food that you are so used to and also exercise. Cancer is all about unhealthy lifestyle. Your favourite food (such as sugar, animal fat, meat) is also cancer's favourite. So, the more you eat those food, the more cancer cells fluorish. So, now I intend to change my diet altogether (easy, because I cant eat anyway). Today, my husband and I went shopping for the goodies mentioned in Dr Tom Wu's guide to prevent cancer. Dr Wu is a lung cancer stage IV survivor. We bought beetroot, carrot, lemon, parsley, red grapes, beansprout, tomatoes and a lot more which I cant remember). As soon as we got home, we straight away blended all the ingredients and I had to drink it. It was torturous! I thought I could never drink the concoction. After taking a deep breath and reminding myself that I am at war with cancer and I am not about to throw in a white towel, I finally managed to down the whole cup. Then, I realised that my shirt was all wet. I actually sweat profusely. I am supposed to drink the concoction 6 cups a day. Oh...please pray that I'll be able to do that.

All in all, I am doing well. I feel much better now. Yesterday, I drove for the first time after the operation in August and came back in one piece..

Thanks for all your prayers and kind thoughts.

"Life is too short but intend to grow old gracefully"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008



So sorry because I gave a wrong number for my new line. Actually, my new number is

So long....


Saturday, December 13, 2008


Salam and hello,

Many cancer survivors say that recovery period after radiotherapy and chemotherapy is the worst. This is because of the residual effects they have on the patients. I find that its really true. I feel a lot worse after both treatments than during the therapies. The burning sensation, the phlegm, fatigue, sleepless nights, no sense of taste and mouth sores can really drive you up the wall. These can really make you feel down because you just don't know whether it would go away and you start wondering whether the treatments are all worth it and if you die, would you die of cancer or the treatments?!

I am now about 3 weeks post treatments and I am glad to say that most of the problems mentioned above have gone. My voice is a lot clearer ( forgot to mention that I also lost my voice) now. Actually I was quite worried that I would not get my voice back because it happened to somebody I know who had radiotherapy around the neck area and the beam messed up his voicebox. I also sleep better now. The only thing that bugs me now is my appetite is zilch! I can't taste anything at all and I don't know whether I will be able to eat anymore. The only thing that gives me hope are the cancer survivors from the OCF (Oral Cancer Foundation) and the MCF (Mouth Cancer Foundation). Some of them who are also tongueless are able to eat and enjoy just about anything. I still can't imagine doing that just yet but sure hope that I'll qualify to join the club soon! (Insyaallah).

Last Thursday, an old friend, Zarina dropped by with another friend, Chee. We were college mates in Eastern Illinois University. The last time Zarina and I met was on her wedding day. It has been about 20 years and now her eldest son is already in college. When I saw her, I was so shocked because she has not changed one bit. She is just as cute and chirpy as I remember. We talked and reminisced about old time.

Yesterday evening, after being cooped up for days, I decided to follow my husband to the night market. There were a lot of food and the smell was wonderful. Oh...how I miss savouring laksa, fried kueh teow, pasembor, chicken rice and so on. How I wish I could just grab a chair and enjoy all those food...just like the old time. After buying a few things, we left. When we got home, I realised that my handphone was missing when I wanted to call my parents. I was so disappointed and felt so lost..huhu. But then, after a while, I thought to myself, oh heck...its just a handphone, not cancer..haha

So this morning I went to get me a new mobile and register for a new line. So, friends out there, please take note that my new number is 013-5313020 and do sms (text) me because I lost all your numbers. This line will only be operable on Monday evening.

Life is so unpredictable, isn't it?

Bye, for now.

"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Completed All Treatments

Hi folks! Assalamualaikum,

First of all, I apologise for not updating this blog for quite sometime. Some friends have texting me wondering how I have been doing. Well, I am fine and thank you very much for being so concern.

I have just completed my chemo and radiotheraphy on the 21sts Nov. It has been about a week now post treatment. On that friday (my last treatment day), as usual I went to the Mt Miriam Hospital in the morning to be nuked. After the session ended, I was instructed to see the oncologist, Dr Rakesh Raman. Then it got me a little worried. What if he add more zaps? I really felt like I could not go on with the treatments anymore. Both of my cheeks and my neck area have turned dark. Its even darker than the normal sunburn. The mouth sores are getting worse and painful. And the phlegm...urgh!! I can hardly finish my milk without using tons of tissue because whenever I drink the phlegm will sort of interrupt a smooth flow of milk into my throat and this causes me to really cough and spill the milk all over myself.

Actually, on the day before (thursday) there was this lady who was happily telling everybody that it was going to be her last radiation. However, after being checked up by the oncologist, she was told to go for 5 more zaps of radiotheraphy. She was so disappointed. I was kind of worried that he might decide to give me more nukes. However, my worries had been unfounded. When he checked me, he said that I am doing just fine there would be no more zap. I have completed 30 sessions altogether. He checked my neck area and inside the mouth and he said I am ok now. I was so relieved.

Then, after coming back to the hospital, I continued with the last chemo. My husband came early on that day. After another 7 hours of chemo, everything was over. I straightaway asked to be discharged. I could not bear to stay there even for another minute. So, I came straight home right after that.

For a few days after the treatments, I felt quite weak and slept most of the time. However, I forced myself to take the morning brisk walk around the field in front of my house. I was told that the best time to exercise is between 6 to 7 am because that is the time where the oxygen content of the air is the most and pollution free. Its very important to supply as much oxygen as possible to the body especially cancer patients because cancer cells cannot survive in oxygenated environment. So, I managed to brisk walk 4 rounds every morning for in the past few days. Now, I feel a lot fresher and stronger. Thank god. Alhamdulillah.

Btw, my appetite is still lousy. I am still surviving on ensure milk, fruit juices and honey. I think I have forgotten how to eat. Got to relearn when the time comes for me to eat again...ha ha

Bye, for now. Life is great.


"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Counting my blessings

Assalamualaikum everyone,

This morning, I went for my 21st radiation at mt miriam hospital. On the way, I could not help looking back what I had gone through since my first rad and chemo. I realised how fortunate I have been because I can still swallow my milk rather well even though I do suffer some mouth sores and the thick phlegm in the mouth which threatens to choke me once in a while. I have also completed 5 cycles of chemo and I have 2 more to go.

There are actually a lot of things that I should count my blessings for. When I looked around me in the Mt Miriam ambulance I feel like what I am facing now is just peanuts because there many other who suffer a lot more. Some can't even climb into the ambulance on their own. They have to be assisted all the time. Many have lost their appetite totally and are only getting by with water for weeks and they have become very weak. There is a 36 year old lady who has a stage IV cervical cancer which is inoperable and it has metastasised to her kidney. She is on palliative treatment which means it cannot be cured and the treatments are just to prolong her life.

Another thing that I am grateful for is that Allah has given me the strength to go through the treatments and I am almost at the end of the tunnel now. I have another 9 zaps to go. I think I can handle that. Alhamdulillah.

The most important of all is that Allah has chosen me to face this ordeal and not any of my children. I don't know if I will have the courage if one of my children is struck with cancer.

And because of cancer, I have made a lot caring friends which I would not have otherwise.

And for all those things, syukur alhamdulillah....


"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully"

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Penang General Hospital

Assalamualaikum and hello everyone,

Got back home on Friday night after my forth chemo. Intended to post something but I felt too tired and went straight to bed. Yesterday, I felt very weak and slept all day. Alhamdulillah, today I feel a lot better and able do compose another post.

After my first operation in April, I stayed in Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah, Alor Star for 24 days. Then, for my second operation in August, I was warded for 34 days. My stay in the hospital was ok. I can't really find anything to fret about. So, when I was informed that I had to stay in the Penang GH through out my radiation and chemo therapies, I was sort of looking forward to it thinking the condition would be more or less the same.

On the first day, I was placed in the oncology ward, along with 20 other patients of both sexes and various conditions. Some were critical and dying. During the night, you could hear voices groaning and moaning in pain. It freaked me out. Most of the patients are undergoing chemo therapy. There was no air cond, just the fans and it got really warm during the day. There are three common shower rooms and three toilets to be shared among the male and female patients. To make it worse, patients with skin diseases are also placed in the same ward. Eventhough they have a shower room and a toilet separated from the rest, there was no way to be sure that they don't use the other shower rooms and toilets. Thats what bothered me the most. I mean when you are under radiation and chemo therapies, your immune system is at the weakest and you can get infected rather easily.

On the second day, I requested to be transferred to the first class ward but was turned down because they said that since I'll be doing chemo, I have to stay at the oncology ward for easy monitoring. I was really not happy about it because as I saw it, staying in the ward is not going to make anyone better. On the 4th day, I was informed that I could go to the first class ward with a condition that I have to come back to the oncology ward for the chemo. Of course I did not argue about the fact that my request to be transferred in the first place was flatly turned down. It was a pleasant surprise. I was so relieved and quickly packed my things and went to the first class ward.

I was placed in a 2 bedded room with an elderly lady who was looked after by her grand daughter. As soon as I settled in the ward, a nurse came and gave a briefing on the dos and the don'ts. One of the groundrules is that I could bring someone to accompany but it has to be a she because it is a female ward. Then, I started noticing that the girl who stayed with my roomate had her boyfriend there all the time. I could not help wondering why nothing was done about it. I brought that up to the nurses but was informed that they could not do anything about it. The boy just refused to budge and even slept there with the girl. If it was in Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah, that boy would have been chased out in no time. If the nurses can't implement the rules, what are the rules for and who are responsible to ensure that the rules are enforced??

Anyway, that lady completed her treatment and she left last friday, phew! Or else I would have to request for another room, wouldn't I?

Oh..by the way, I am already halfway through my treatment and my hair is still intact and my mouth is not as sore as before. However, I am still fighting with the phlegm in my mouth. Many people say that from now on, the level of suffering from the side effects will either stay the same or go downhill. In other words, I should feel better after this. Now, that is something to look forward to...

Will write again, soon...

Bye, for now.


"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Third Chemo, 11 th Nuke

Salam and hello friends,

I wish I could say that everything is smoothsailing. I wish I could say that going through the treatments in battling cancer is just like going for a picnic. I wish I could say that having chemo is also like having ice-cream cone. I wish...

Yesterday, I completed my 11th radiation and 3rd chemo. I am now experiencing a bit of a stiff neck and dry and heaty mouth. I have been forewarned by people who had gone through the journey about dry mouth but just could not imagine how its like. Well, actually it is horrible. My lips started cracking, and my saliva thickened becoming phlegm-like. Everytime I have my milk (still can't eat, ok?), I have to clean my mouth thoroughly and it is a chore because some of the milk would get entangled with the web of stringy, phlegm-like saliva. Usually, by rinsing with water and mouthwash alone will not get the phlegm plus milk out. I have to use a piece of gauze to reach into my mouth up to the throat and gently pull it out. Then, my lips would start bleeding because of the rubbing of the gauze against it and also having to stretch lips wide enough.

After finishing my chemo last night which took about 7 hours, hubby came to take me home. I was so tired because I could not sleep at all during the chemo. After getting home, I got ready for bed but could not have a good sleep because my thick saliva started filling my mouth and occasionally got lodge at the throat. This made it hard to breath and I had to get up often to get the gooey stuff out of the way. That was not fun!

Swallowing has also become painful because my throat has become sore to the point even swallowing water is difficult. But, I have to force myself to consume lots of water to ease the heatiness and dry mouth. It does help. I am now only drinking oxygenated water and so I feel a lot better. I am also taking a lot of coconut water..yummy!

As I am writing this, I am also noticing that my hair is falling off. Not so much yet. Well, that is to be expected but still, its a bit scary. Good thing I had a good sense of cutting my hair real short. Well, my family thinks that I look cuter in short hair. Who knows I might look even cuter without hair...ha ha

Another thing, compared to Penang GH, I prefer Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah anytime! Will tell you more about Penang GH in my next posting...hmm a lot of stories...

Until then...

Bye, for now.

"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Oncology Ward-Penang GH II

Salam to all,

Yesterday, marked my 6th nuke. 19 more to go. I have started noticing the tanning of my skin around the neck area. My face is still as cute as before. After coming back from Mt Miriam I started my chemo rightaway.

Since I had that roller coaster ride experience in my first chemo, this time I was not taking any chances. I had a bottle of coconut water with me and a few bottles of oxygenated water. Well, actually I had been drinking those for the whole week. When the cisplatin started going in, I waited in suspense for the wave of nausea to strike. It didn't. I didn't feel uncomfortable at all throughout the whole process which lasted for 7 hours. Syukur alhamdulillah. It was truly a holiday cruise after all. God answered our prayers. I am feeling just fine. My hair is still intact. I am anxiously waiting for the day when it starts falling. Then, I'll become a skin head.

Talked to a lady last night who has breast cancer. She has lost her hair completely. She said that she did not lose her hair until after two weeks. Her just seemed to drop off her head like a wig. After two weeks, her head felt warm and a bit painful. So, she went to the shower and tried to wash her hair. Suddenly, the whole chunk of hair just dropped on the floor. It gave her quite a rude shock. Sadly though, she can't have it operated because there is no lump, just that her breast got swollen by the cancer cells. So, her only option is chemo.

Being in this ward, you have the chance to get to know other cancer patients and survivors. One chinese man I met relayed to me his predicament. He had colon cancer last year. Had it removed. After five months he had a recurrence. This time it attacked his liver. Luckily, it was operable. Now, he is going for chemo. He said that his doctor gave him 6 months to live. He said, well let's see whether the doctor is right. My goodness. Amazingly, he did not look sad at all. He was chatty and laughing all the way. Then, there is another man who is having lung cancer. He is now on palliative care which means that he won't be cured but he is only on chemo to sort of prolong his life. He has a really positive attitude as well. When the doctor asked why he waited so long before getting treatment, he replied in jest that "belum sampai seru" or in other words he had not got his calling yet.

I also notice that about 80 percent of the cancer patients are chinese and most of them have colon cancer. Next in line are malays and most have breast cancer. Indians are the minority here. I can't help wondering why.

Until my next chemo,


"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully"

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Oncology Ward-Penang GH

Salam and hello everyone,

I am now warded in the oncology ward of Penang General Hospital. Here, there are all sorts of cancer patients, majority suffer from colon cancer and quite a number are recurrence cases. I got here on Oct 7 and started my radiotherapy on Oct 10. I am going to get 25 zaps of the nuclear thing. I also have to go through 5-6 cycles of chemotherapy which is administered once a week. This also started on Oct 10.

Last friday, Oct 10 I went for my first radiation. When I laid down on the table, the technician secured my head to the table with a mask. That mask was fitted on my face when I had a ct scan. The ct scan shows the exact position of the cancer tumour/cells which is targeted by the radiation. Thats why its very important to keep my head at the exact position during the treatment as when I had the ct scan. The whole process took around 10 minutes but it felt like forever because I was fighting with the saliva which threatened to choke me...

Right after coming back from Mount Miriam, the nurses straighaway started my chemo. It started around 7 pm. I was put on IV line. There were four bottles of water with sodium chloride and one bottle of chemo drug (cisplatin). The chemo cycle started with two bottles of water. It was alright. I started wondering what the fuss is all about. Then, came the cisplatin which took about two hours. I was still having fun. After, that back to the water. Then, my head started spinning. I began to see a lot of stars. I felt like I was on a roller coaster. It went on for two hours.

There was a lady who had nasal cancer. She started groaning and moaning in pain right after I started the chemo. She also seemed to be gasping for air. Then, she stopped for a while. She was groaning again when I was on my roller coaster ride. After the water finished, amazingly the ride stopped. I was so tired that I drifted off to sleep amidst the groaning and moaning. I think it was around 3 am. I woke up at 6.30 am and was told that the lady passed away at 4.00 am.

Last Monday, another patient succumbed to lung cancer which had metastasized to the brain. She was only 24. She was about to start her career as a pharmacist when she realised that she had lung cancer. It has been depressing but then, you can see how fragile life is. A lot of time, things just do not go as we'd like to.

Today, I am going to have my second cycle of chemo. The nurses are preparing the stuff for me. Let's hope that its going to be a holiday cruise this time....

Will keep you updated whenever I can.

Bye, for now.

"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully"

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Getting ready for the radiotherapy


Raya days are almost over, well, sort of. Schools reopened today. My husband drove my children to school and me to the hospital after that. I went to the dentist for the final check up before the radiotherapy. Then, she gave me the dental clearance and I am all ready to be "nuked"...just learned the word from the oral cancer community at the oral cancer foundation.

Actually, there are a lot of information that I gather from the oral cancer forums. Since I'll go for the radiation, I have posted several questions on it in the forum. I've been informed that the IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) is a type of radiation which only bombards the cancer tumours, unlike the conventional radiotherapy where the radiation would bombard the normal cells as well. I am not sure whether the Mt Miriam where I'll get the radiation is equipped with it or not. I tried to ask some people, docs included, but they don't seem to know what I'm talking about. Oh, well....

I was told by my docs that that I'll have to make sure that my mouth is clean all the time or I'll develop fungus and mouth ulcers. On top of that, my mouth will also be very dry because my salivary gland will collapse. I will also lose the sense of taste..Well, haven't I already? However, they can't tell me what I can use to alleviate the problem. Its like you will face the problem and there is nothing you can do about it.

I got to know from some friends I made in the mouth cancer forums that there are some products available in the US and UK to deal with the problems. I'm hoping that Mt Miriam has access to it. I am kind of nervous to go through the treatment but can't wait to get it over with.

I still don't know how many zaps I'll be getting. I'll find that out on Oct 7 when I see the radiation oncologist. They'll mark the target area on my face and get a mask fitted. The mask, I was told is to hold my head still during the treatment.

So, we'll see what happens next.

Bye, for now.

"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully...."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Selamat Hari Raya Aidhil-Fitri

Assalamualaikum and hi,

Hari raya is just around the corner. I was saying to my husband just the other day that most of the hari raya songs are very sad. I can only think of three songs which promotes joy and happiness in hari raya. First is the one sung by Allahyarhamah Saloma, the second one is sung by Allahyarham Sudirman (Balik kampung) and the third by Siti Nurhaliza (Nazam lebaran). It seems to me that you are supposed to feel sad on hari raya. So, that means, people who are in the same boat as me should feel double sad on this joyous occasion..eh?

In most literature I've read about battling cancer is that you have to be mentally strong. You have to show cancer who is the BOSS. You have to fight, sacrifice and at the same time have a lot of faith in the almighty. You also have to do a lot of soul searching to motivate yourself and at the same time find somewhere in your heart to accept what has been planned for you. You can't get anywhere near that by feeling sad all the time, brooding with self-pity and always asking "why me?".

This Aidhil-Fitri is going to be tough for me. I can't savour the various mouth watering ketupat and rendang, cakes and biscuits, lemang and other hari raya goodies. Socialising is not going to be easy either because I keep on drooling whenever I am upright. To stop the drooling, I have to sit back in a reclining position. Or else I have to always cover my mouth with tissue or small towel.

Anyway, I am going to have a happy hari raya, whatever it takes. Not being able to enjoy food does not mean that I can't be happy. There are so many things in life other than food that can cheer you up. All you have to do is to open your eyes to new horizons. Travelling, for instance...hmm how does that sound? Meeting old friends??

So, I am taking this opportunity to wish all my muslim brothers and sisters Selamat Hari Raya and Maaf Zahir dan Batin. May your hari raya be the happiest day.

May Allah bless us all.

Bye, for now.

"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully..."

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Oncology Department, Penang General Hospital

Yesterday, I went back to the hospital to see my doctors. First, Dr Regu who is the plastic surgeon. Then, Dr Zul who is the ENT specialist. Dr Regu said that there are very few cases of oral cancer which strike people like me who are considered young (he he), non-smoker, non-drinker, and non-betel leave eater. The startling fact that he told my husband and I is that when oral cancer strikes people of my category, it is really aggresive meaning much more aggresive than people who have the risk factor. Thats why they have to monitor my progress very closely. In reflecting what he said, I thought to myself. hei, smoking and drinking are not bad after all....

Then, we went to see Dr. Zul and he said that he is quite confident that there will be no more recurrence after the radiotherapy. I asked him the side effects to be expected. He said that it depends on individual patient. However, the most common ones are dryness in the mouth because the radiation would attack the salivary glands. The radiation is aimed at the cancer cells which are fast growing. It so happen that the cells in the salivary glands are also fast growing, thus, they would fall prey to the radiation beam as well. That means, I will have to force myself to take a lot of water to compensate for the dryness and also to overcome the heat from the radiation. Well, I suppose losing the salivary glands is a small price to pay compared losing everything to cancer...

So, I was warded again yesterday after seeing the doctor because this morning I had to be driven to the Penang GH in an ambulance to see a doctor at the oncology department. A nurse woke me up at about 6.00 am telling me that the ambulance would be leaving at 7.00 to Penang. So, I quickly got to the shower and prayed. Then, had my milk (can't fast) and quickly went straight to the nurses station. They said that the appointment was set at 8.00am. I was saying to the nurse who accompanied me that we would not make it on time because of the distance (Alor Star to Penang is about 160 km) and the heavy traffic on the Penang bridge. Was I in for surprise!!

As soon as we hit the highway, we were already flying. We reached Sungai Petani at 7.20 am (55km). When we reached the Penang bridge, there was a massive traffic jam. Then, the driver put on the siren and we just criss-crossed the vehicles and made it before 8.00am. Phew!!

Went in to see the doctor. Was informed that I will have to go to Mount Miriam on Oct 7 for the oncologist there to plan my radiation treatment. As soon as the treatment starts I will lodge at the Balik Pulau hospital not the Kepala Batas hospital. Doesn't really matter to me because whichever hospital I'll be staying in, transportation will be provided to go to Mount Miriam. So, the treatment will start after Hari Raya. I don't know whether I should be happy or not because I feel that it would not make too much difference before or after raya. But then, a close friend commented that well, at least I would not be on the hospital bed in the morning of Hari Raya. I guess she had the point.

Bye, for now.

"Life is too short, but intend to grow old gracefully...."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friends from SMK Air Merah

Salam and hello:

Naturally, I am a very carefree and cheerful person who love my job as a teacher very much. In my 16 year teaching career, I had been on my toes doing a lot of things at school level, district, state as well as national levels and enjoyed every minute of it making a lot of friends along the way. I became busier than before when I transferred to my present school, SMK Air Merah because I was one of the pioneer teachers and we sort of helped in the setting up of the school. I used to get quite depressed when holidays approached because I was afraid of being bored of idling. I could never understand many people who often say that they can't wait to retire because I just could not stand the thought of not doing anything for years waiting for my time to go.

But now.....I have not been working since March this year. It has already been six months. Amazingly, I feel fine. I get to do a lot of things that I could not find the time to. I don't miss my busy teaching life at all ( writing record book, taking attendance, marking exercise books and exam papers etc, etc) but I miss teaching my students very much and most of all, my colleagues who are quite close to me. I miss the jovial environment in the staff room every morning when we greet each other and joke around. Sharing jokes/stories/problems during break times at the school canteen is already a norm.

Then, last Sunday they came to my house for a visit..yae! Azvida, Azlina, Linda, Shimah, and Jah with her daughter. It was really fun talking about school.
They filled me up about the latest gossips and the goings on. They wished me well on my radiation treatment. Too bad its ramadhan, so nothing to eat or drink. On the following Tuesday, Kak Saerah, Rohaizah and Fairuz came. All of them talked about how hectic things are getting at school now. The form five students are having their trial examination now and after this its going to be the final exam and so on...Oh.. I don't envy them at all.

Hei you guys, I miss you very much...

"Life is too short"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Hello to all,

Got home last night. I was told by my doctors that there was no point for them to restraint me in the hospital anymore. I was fine. I was not sick at all. I was walking around everywhere, visiting other patients. I was always having either a book in my hand or a laptop surfing the internet and practically all the things healthy people do everyday except eating. I still can't take solid food yet, only liquids. And drooling. I am still drooling but not as much as before. So, when the doctor said that I could go home, I was really excited. I was at the hospital for 34 days!

Talking about drooling, my lower right lip does not feel anything. It feels as if you are about to have your tooth extracted where you don't feel a thing. Numb. That is why a lot of time, I don't realise that my saliva drips out of my lips. So, I have to have a box of tissue by my side at all times.

Many people say that I look a lot better now than I did after my first operation. My neck is not as swollen and I don't look pale at all. The only thing is that I have lost a lot of weight. I guess so because I can't take as much food. Just liquids.

On the 22nd, I will be seing the oncologist to discuss the radiation treatment. I heard that its pretty rough. I hope I will be able to go through it just like hundreds and thousands of others who have been through it and survived! I'll be admitted again on the 21st, and the hospital staff will take me to the Penang GH to see the oncologist. After that, I'll be transferred to another hospital in Kepala Batas where I'll be driven to either Pantai Mutiara hospital or Mount Miriam in Penang Island for the treatment daily. So, that will be another long hospital stay. Well, after being in the hospital for 34 days, I have kind of got used to it and to be pampered again by the nurses.

Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers.

Ok friends. Got to stop now.



"Life is too short"

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Still in the Hospital

Salam and hello:

Today is the 25th day I am in the hospital. I am actually doing fine. I am not under any medication any more and I can walk around everywhere. The only problem is the dead cells on my tongue which is collecting milk residue. So, I have to wait until the dead cells and the milk residue comes off. Then only I can take other types of liquid food and be allowed to go home. As for now, I have to get by with milk. And because of that, fasting is out because I need to take the milk every three hours. On top of that, I also need to maintain a high level of oral hygiene. We are talking about rinsing my mouth with mouthwash 5 to 6 times daily.

Two days ago, one of my uncles was admitted at this hospital because of a heart problem. He has been going in and out the hospital for the last 4 years. He is suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. He is now wheelchair bound. When my husband came yesterday, we went to visit him. He was quite chatty regardless. I hope he will get well soon.

On the 22nd, I will be seing an oncologist to discuss my radiation treatment. My doctor hopes to proceed with it as soon as possible. The treatment will take about 6 weeks. Well, looks like Hari Raya is also out for me. Thats ok because as things are now, not being able to celebrate Hari Raya is just a small matter. What matters most are getting better, family and friends! When people who matter to me are up and about, I am thankful.

So, folks. Thats all for now.

Bye and wassalam.


"Life is too short"

Monday, September 01, 2008

Passing Time in the Hospital

Salam to all:

When I had the first operation, I was not given any sedative before going to the operation theatre. So, I was conscious when I entered the OT. Upon realising what they were going to do to me, I started saying the shahadah. However, this time, its different. I was asked to take a pill which was supposed to calm me down. I was not told about how powerful the pill was. All I remember was that I was wheeled to the OT and I was waving my good byes to my family. When the door closed, I saw my mother in tears and then, I was out. Darkness. The next thing I remember was the ICU and the voices of my husband, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my brother, Rofli and wife, Zah and the whirring of all sorts of machines. Then, I counted my blessing for coming out of the OT alive. I did not get to say the shahadah before I blacked out!

It has been slightly over 2 weeks after the operation and I am still in the hospital. The doctor is still waiting for the lab report on the tissue that they removed. The lab report is needed before discussing my follow up treatment plan with the oncologist. I don't really mind being in the hospital because I have my blog and some books sent by Hizzad to keep me occupied. I got the books last friday, I have finished reading two: The Kite Runner by Khaled Houseini and Nadia's Song by Soheir Khasoggi.

The Kite Runner is an interesting story, about culture and life in Kabul, the hardship of majority of the people and the prosperity of the minority. It also centers around the dilemma and the guilt consuming the main characters (father and son).

Nadia's song is about the tragic life of a singer, Karima Ahmad, who was well-known throughout the Arab world specifically Egypt. Her life was intertwined with forbidden love, hardship, triump and tribulations. She lost her two year old daughter in a Hotel fire during her concert. Little did she know that her daughter was actually found by a childless couple who fell instantly in love with the lovely child and adopted her. Mother and daughter found each other eventually and realised how much they cared and loved each other. The story took a turn when Karima died in a hotel room and it was said that she died for taking sleeping pills and alcohol. This, her daughter would not accept and at the risk of her life, she strived to find out the real reason behind her mother's death and her findings startled her...

Now, I am on to the next novel, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Whether the book is interesting or otherwise remains to be seen. I should be able to update you before I leave the hospital.

Who said hospital stay is horrible, huh?? Thank you so much, Hizzad.

By the way, I have perfected my swallowing technique. Now, I can finish 2 glasses of milk twice as fast as before. Just put the glass on your lips, tilt your head a bit, let the liquid flow into your mouth and use your breathing and your throat muscle to control the flow into your throat. Voila, you've got it made!

To my muslim brothers and sisters: Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan and Selamat Berpuasa.

May Allah bless us all.

Bye, for now.


"Life is too short"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Can't Wait

Assalamualaikum and Hello to all:

There are actually two teams of doctors who are taking care of me. The first, is the ENT group and the other is the plastic surgeons. According to the ENT doctors, I should be allowed to go home already if I prefer because my recovery has progressed so well. The coughing has stopped and there is no more problem with phlegm. The physiotherapist has been coming everyday.

Today, she came and saw me drinking milk from a cup. She said, "I don't know what else to tell you. Apparently she thought of teaching me swallowing technique! And I have been getting up at 6.00 am every morning and do all kinds of exercises that she had shown. Then, she smiled and left.

Then, came the ENT doctors, including Dr. Zul when I was having a mug of milk in my hand. He asked whether I've been using the feeding tube or not. I said, I've been told by the plastic surgeons to use the tube for feeding stuff other than milk and water. So, he said that I could try to take blended porridge orally. It has to be blended because I am not allowed to chew yet because they are afraid that I might break whatever is left of the jaw bone. My jawbone is still not strong enough. He said that this will have to go on for another two or three months. Boy, oh boy! If I can manage to take the liquified porridge, they can take out the feeding tube. Fortunately, came lunch time, I managed to down a bowl of blended porridge. So, looks like the feeding tube can go this afternoon.

Yesterday, a long lost cousin came visiting. She has been married to her brother in law for ten years; that is after the passing of her sister after suffering from cancer of the jaw. Her sister had 6 children. So, she is now taking care of the six children and her own child. Her late sister had a swelling under her right ear. At first, they thought it was just something to do with her thyroid. So, they just applied some ointment and seeked treatments from various clinics. When the bump did not go away after a few months, they decided to take her to the hospital. She stayed in the hospital for 8 days and nothing was given except some panadols. Finally, on the 8th day, they decided to do a biopsy and a ct scan, and the result came back positive. Then, the doctors planned for a surgery on the next day. However, on the next day, she passed away. That is how horrible this disease is.

So, you see. You really have to be on the look out for anything funny about your body.

Oh..oh. The nurse is here. Got to go.

Bye, for now.


"Life is too short"

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Hello everyone:

Here I am again at ward 7a, bed 17. Feeling really great. The doctor just came by and said that everything is going well. I have started sipping water. Today, I am going to start drinking milk. Hopefully, I will be able to take food orally in 2 or 3 days. He also talked about the radiotheraphy treatment which he wants me to start as soon as possible. He is not taking any chances this time. After this, looks like I will be transferred to Hospital Kepala Batas for the radiation treatment. Well, whatever it takes, I'll go for it.

After the operation on Aug 13, I was pushed straight to the ICU. I came around on the next morning, I think it was around 10.30am. I heard my husband's voice reciting the Surah Yasin. Then, I knew I was going to be alright. A nurse came and talked to me. She said that she knew me when I had my first operation. She said that I will survive again because I am really a strong person.

That afternoon itself, the nurse came back saying that they would transfer me to Level 6 for observation. They prepared for me the self-administered morphine whereby I need to press a button whenever I feel any pain. When that button is pressed, the morphine would be transfused into my system. I only got to press the button 3 times. After that, it seemed that the machine malfunctioned. Fortunately, I did not feel any pain after that.

After 6 days, I requested to be transferred to the first class ward. The doctors readily agreed. I moved right away to level 7 and was put in a room along with 2 other elderly patients. One is a chinese lady suffering from a terminal liver cancer and the other is an Indian lady who had her knee cap replaced. The Chinese lady could barely move and she was groaning in pain most of the time. Her loving husband and relatives were by her side all the time. My heartfelt sympathy went out for her. On the next day, I was asked to move to a 2-bedded room which is more comfortable. This morning, I heard a commotion. Then, I found out that the Chinese lady had passed away in her sleep. My condolence to her family. Life is indeed too short.

I am now bored stiff staying in the hospital. I sure am glad that I have my laptop and some books with me. Friends and relatives who have been visiting almost every other day also help me go through my stay here. Yesterday, I had a visit from a cousin whom I had not met for years. Upon hearing about my condition, she quickly came to the hospital and filled me in about her siblings whom I used to know very well. That was really nice of her.

Ok folks. Will keep you updated, later.
Bye, for now.

"Life is too short"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Second Operation-August 13th

Dearest sisters and brothers:

I haven’t updated this blog because of two reasons: firstly, problems with my internet connection and secondly, my second operation which I had on August 13th. It was a 9 hour operation.

In the first operation, I had a total glossectomy ( removal of the whole tongue) which affecting my speaking and eating ability. This time, it’s a partial mandibulectomy (removal of part of the lower jaw) which doesn’t deteriorate my speaking and eating ability further. Thank god.

I was admitted on Sunday Aug 10th. When I first walked into the ward, the nurses were like, "hey, you are back". And I said, "ya, I missed you all so much". They laughed at my remark. So, on that day, they did an ecg and blood test. On the next day, my consultant came to inform that everything looks ok and they would proceed with the operation on the 13th.

Friends and families started visiting when they heard the news. Smses came in non-stop until the big day. They really cheered me up and kept on reminding me to focus my mind on being cancer free and a survivor. I was a bit disappointed though for not being able to get on line to send news to friends from other parts of the globe (those people from the mouth cancer foundation) who have been very supportive in this battle) and update this blog.

I was pushed into the operation theatre at about 11.30 am. My family members were all here. Then, a nurse came to give me a pill. She said that this is to calm me down. My brother Rofli, asked the nurse for the pill too. Everyone laughed. True enough the pill really worked. As soon as I got into the ot, I was knocked out, already in the dreamland.

My husband said that I came out of the ot at about 9.00 pm and the doctor informed him that everything went well. On the next day, I was transferred to level 6 for close observation, just as I expected. I still felt ok. Came the third day, I started feeling horrible because of the phlegm, coughing and continuous drooling. They have to constantly suck the phlegm out. Its feels terrible. They have taken out some of the tubes. I feel much better now, eventhough I'm still coughing and drooling because now I have my laptop with me and can get on-line.

The doctors just came and said that I am doing well and should recover soon. Well, let's see what they have to say tomorrow.

Until then, bye!

"Life is too short"

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Friendship Never Dies

Hello everyone,

In January 1980 I, with a big group of Malaysian students flew to the US to pursue our tertiary education. We were stationed in Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois for one semester where we had to undergo an intensive English course. This is to enable us to follow lectures in english and to assimilate and adapt to the lifestyle in the US. After finishing the English course, we were sent to various universities depending on the disciplines that we undertook. I was sent to Eastern Illinois University along with nine others. They were Chee, Chenah, Jamaliah, Tip, Hizzad, Mongkok, Jakju, Harun and Dawam. After two semesters came another batch of Malaysian students; Kitty, Ram, Zarina, Kak Ti, Tamam, Kassim, Hatta and Wak Im. Oh, we had a lot of fun and a fair share of problems as well. Since there were so few of us, we were like a close knit family.

Today, Chee, Hizzad and Harun came to visit me. I was caught by surprise. I was really touched. Had never occurred to me that they would take the trouble to fly all the way from KL and back just to visit me. They took me out for lunch and we talked about a lot of things, our family, career, our student days and so on. But nobody touched about me having cancer. We just had fun. I am glad that I managed to make them understand me eventhough I know that I must have sounded weird. I appreciate their visit very much.

Hizzad, I have started reading the book. It is very inspiring. It helps me look at things from a different angle and perspective.

Thank you very much, friends.


"Life is too short"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cancer Strikes Back!

Assalamualaikum and hello all,

A few weeks ago, I mentioned about the swelling on my gum and my doctor decided to do a biopsy and a ct scan. I also mentioned that when your forehead has been printed with the letter "C" you are in a constant fear that cancer will come and make fun of you again. Well, that fear has become a reality.

Yesterday, I went for my follow up half hoping that the results would be negative (Something inside me is saying that it is back). So, when my name was called, I anxiously walked into the doc's office and silently praying that everything would be fine. However, we can only pray but god almighty has his own plan for us. I was informed that the results came out positive. I was not really shocked because this kind of thing is to be expected but disappointed. Because it came back so fast. I mean it has only been 3 months. Surely this friend called "C" just can't wait to play another game with me.

This time, it attacked the gum and the right mandible (lower jaw). The doctor set Aug 13 for my operation. Its going to take about 6 to 7 hours. So, I will be in the dreamland again. They will remove the lower right jaw and reconstruct it with a piece of bone taken from another part of my body. The doc said that I am still lucky because they can still operate on me. There are a lot of recurrence cases where they can't do anything any more. So, for that I count my blessings. But then, this time around I am not as terrified as before because I know what to expect. Its going to be the swollen neck, tracheostomy, feeding tube, IV tubes etc and all the wonderful doctors and nurses all over again.

I just hope that I have the strength, faith and endurance to fight this battle. Well, I survived before. Why wouldn't I this time, right? The hardest part of facing all this is to break the news to the loved ones knowing that they care too much about me. To see the agony on their faces again, all that worry. the tears and so on. I know that my suffering would strain them emotionally. Thats why I intend to be strong and by god I will be strong for their sake. I am going to beat this. This is just like crossing a bridge and I will be at the other side of the bridge. (Said by a newfound friend who is also in the same journey as I am)

So, friends, thats the latest development about me. I will keep you updated.

Bye, for now.



"Life is too short"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Good Bye, My Friend!

First posted, July 20th 2008


In September 2004, my husband and I started going to the lounge in the Park Avenue Hotel in Sungai Petani to listen to the live bands playing oldies (songs by the beatles, Bee Gees, Broery, Lobo etc) while sipping coffee or tea. We used to go there almost every weekend. Sometimes, the owner of the hotel, the late Tan Sri Eric Chia would also be there. After sometime, one evening his aide came to us and said that the Tan Sri would like to get to know us. Then, we moved to his table and he ordered the bartender to bring us more drinks. On top of that, he ordered the chef to prepare food for us. We had a long talk. On that night we had a chance of getting to know this successful but humble man. He related to us his childhood, his struggle, his pains and achievements which include the Perwaja Steel. He also told us about how Tun Mahathir entrusted him with the task to turn around Perwaja Steel. We also talked about his court case. Since that evening, we were welcomed to the lounge, drink whatever we want and eat anything free of charge until now! Sometimes, when we went there, he would insist that we sat at his table. He would ask how we are doing and also our children. Not only that, every ramadhan he would insist that we bring our family to the hotel to breakfast and flatly refused to accept any payment.

Then, starting from March this year, we stopped going to the lounge because I started becoming unwell and finally had my operation to remove the cancer tumour on my tongue. We learned from his aide that he had been wondering why we had not come to the lounge for a long time. After a few weeks after my discharge from the hospital, we went to the lounge again twice but he was not there. Then, suddenly, on the 24th June, last tuesday at about 5.00 pm, we received a call informing us about his passing. I was devastated for not being able to meet him after I recovered.

I still remember an occasion, when my husband and I went to thank him for his sincere generosity (we are nobody), and he said, "friends don't say thank you. Friends say 'hi'". No matter what people say about him, to me he is one person who would not hesitate to contribute to anyone without hoping for anything or favour in return.

Today is his funeral. Rest in peace, Tan Sri. Good bye, my friend!


"Life is too short"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

To be or not to be, that's the question!

Many people say that when you get cancer, its not the end of the world. Many people survive. However, many don't. I find that this issue is really confusing. We still don't know for sure why some people get cancer even though they practice healthy living, while there are some who smoke away cigarettes and enjoy a long life, disease free. It is also still mind-boggling that some cancer sufferers survive and some don't. Take breast cancer, for instance, I know of a friend who had stage 3 breast cancer and she had a mastectomy. She is now a 3 year survivor. Another lady I know, had stage 2 breast cancer and a mastectomy as well. She passed away a year after diagnosis.

There have been 5 people in my residential area diagnosed with cancer including me. Out of the five, I'm the only one with oral cancer. In a way, having oral cancer is quite glamorous because many people are not aware that such cancer exist and they are very curious about it. They cant imagine how I eat without the tongue. The rest have breast cancer. One lady with breast cancer passed away last week. The other two passed away last year. So now, there are two of us left. This lady who is still around decided not to undergo conventional treatments. She opted for alternative healing (traditional). This is the dilemma that we are always in. Conventional treatment or alternative?

As for me, I go for both. I believe that both have the plus and minus points. Even if you decide to go for the alternative treatment you also have to fall back to the conventional opinions and suggestions because tonnes of scientific researches have been conducted and most of the treatments are based on these scientific findings.

Its true that the conventional treatments such as the operation, radio and chemo theraphies have debilitating effects on the patients but being stuck with cancer, you dont have much choice.

Waiting in suspense for my biopsy and ct scan results. Please pray that I will be strong enough to accept or face any possibility.



"Life is too short"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Living with cancer


Once you are diagnosed with cancer, you often have moodswings. This is due to the uncertainties in life. There are certain days when you feel cheerful thinking that you have managed to beat cancer, and there are others when you are really down feeling that you are fighting a losing battle. Today is one of those DOWN days!

You see, in my last follow up with my consultant, he got worried about the swelling on my gum. So, he insisted on doing a biopsy, followed by a ct scan. The results are due next week. Can you imagine how worried I am, not to mention my family about a possibility of a recurrence? There are now a lot of "what ifs" about my situation. I hope I will be strong enough to face any possibility.

Another reason for me to feel down today is the passing of a lady who had fought a battle against breast cancer in our residential area. She had gone through everything in her fight like mastectomy and chemo theraphy. After sometime, she was faced with a bone problem where her bone became brittle and she suffered from broken bones twice. She had become bedridden for quite a while. Finally, she succumbed to the disease this morning at 3.00 am with her loved ones around.

So, that is why I feel very sad and down today. Will I be able to fight this horrible disease?
But then, come to think of it, there is nothing for certain in life, right?

Bye for now. Wassalam.


"Life is too short"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

When Cancer Strikes!

Hi to all:

When you are diagnosed with cancer, your whole life and your attitude towards life change. You start to look at things from different perspective. For example, before cancer came into my life, I used to be so scared to even mention the word, much less to even think that I might be getting it. Most of the time I would prefer to say "that disease" instead of saying "cancer". Now, I am the one facing "that disease" myself. And now, I feel quite comfortable to tell everyone that I have cancer.

In my previous posting, I mentioned that I had a lot of visitors when I was warded. Words got back to me that almost everybody who came said that they admire my courage. They keep on saying that I am highly spirited and that is one of the reasons for my fast recovery. Of course I am proud of myself when I heard that. Its just that I don't quite understand why people keep on telling me that because I am scared as hell. The future is so unsure. The thing is when you are diagnosed with cancer, there is no such thing as going back to your normal life. Life can never be the same again. You have to make a lot of adjustments in your daily life. You are also in a constant fear that cancer might visit you again.

In my case, the adjustments that I have to make is eating and of course speaking. Eating wise, I have to chew longer than others. This makes eating a bit taxing. So, I have to make do with soft food. Burgers and pizzas are out. When I eat out with my husband, he has to be very patient waiting for me to finish my food. I am a bit hesitant to eat out with friends because I don't want them to have to wait for me. Speaking wise, families and friends have to get used to my weird pronunciation. My husband said that he can understand 80% of what I say. It is sad because normally I am a chatty person with a good sense of humour (thats what I've been told). Well, I suppose 80% is not bad. All is not lost. Now, I tend to avoid getting into a conversation with strangers because I know that I sound funny and they would not understand what I've gone through.

But then, with time, you will get used to all the changes and adjustments that you have to make. I would say that I have already got used to some of them. I have my families and friends to thank for. I don't know what Allah has in store for me but I pray that it is going to be something better than what he has taken.



"Life is too short'

Friday, July 11, 2008

Private or Government Hospital?


Hello everyone:
I have been having problem with my internet connection. That should somehow explain why I haven't updated my blog for sometime.

Whenever you are asked for an opinion as to which hospital to go to when you have to go for treatment, most people including me, would quickly say that you should go to a private hospital if you can afford or if you have an insurance coverage. We have such a negative impression towards government hospitals for some reason. When I had my three children, I made sure that I got to go to a private clinic knowing fully well that it would cost me thousands of ringgit!

So, when I found out that I had to undergo a major operation, my husband and I quickly consulted some friends (two of them are doctors at a private hospital) as to which private hospital I should go to. To our surprise, none of the hospitals have the expertise to perform such operation because of the high cost involved and they do not have enough specialist doctors to do it. Even the two private hospital doctors could not give accurate information on which hospital is able to do it. Feeling disappointed and worried, I had no choice but to go to a government hospital. I was then referred to the Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah in Alor Star. I later found out that this hospital has the best facilities and expertise in Malaysia in diseases involving Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT).

After having my operation and getting treatment there, I have to change my opinion on government doctors because they are indeed very good. Dr Zulkifli Yusof, an ENT specialist who performed the operation on me has handled about a hundred oral cancer operations in the hospital since 2002. I breezed through my recovery period without any problem. I was taken care of by several other ENT doctors such as Dr. Yusfarina, Dr Ida Sadja'ah, Dr Yusri, Dr Azlina, Dr Syifa, Dr Ngoo and not to mention the wonderful nurses when I was warded. A million thanks to all of them and congratulations for doing such a splendid job. Now, I am able to eat and speak (eventhough with some difficulty with certain words). The only thing that is bothering me is the possibility of a recurrence. Dr Zul has been reminding me to watch out for the symptoms of a recurrence which could be some bleeding or white patches at the end of the artificial tongue and to adhere closely to the follow up appointments. So, from now on, if anyone were to ask me I would not hesitate to suggest going to the government hospital. They are the best and the best part is you don't have to pay through your nose!

This past week, I have noticed a swelling on my gum. When I went for my follow up last Monday, I pointed that out to Dr Zul. He suggested a biopsy. So, I agreed to do it. The results of the biopsy are not out yet. He, nevertheless scheduled a ct scan this Sunday. Well, one can never be too careful where cancer is concerned. Hopefully, it is just due to an infection or the scar of the operation. Anyway, we will find out next week. In the meantime, lets keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. I will keep you updated. Whatever happens, it happens for the best!

Wassalam. Bye!


"Life is too short"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Level 6

Assalamualaikum everyone.

I stayed in the ICU for one and a half days. During my stay there, I was aware of my family and relatives who came to visit. I was also aware that many of them were in tears and shocked the minute they saw me. However, I was too weak to respond. I was like drifting in and out of the dreamland. Then, the doctor came and informed me that I was doing alright and I would be pushed to the ward on level 6 right in front of the nurses' station so that they could monitor my progress. Ok, here we go!

As soon as I reached ward 6A, I saw so many familiar faces besides my family. Then, I realised that they were actually my colleagues and they were all in tears. I was wondering why. I tried to smile at them to express my gratitude for their visit. Much later, I found out that I really looked horrible because my face and neck were so swollen and I had various tubes on me! People who saw me at that time thought that I was really in pain. Here, I would like to tell everybody that I have never been in pain at all after the big operation.

I was fed with "ensure milk" through the NG (nasogastro.... not sure of the spelling) tube which was inserted through the nose every three hours. I also had an IV (intraveneous) line fixed through which blood, saline solution and various medication were transfused into the bloodstream. Thanks for modern medication because I did not experience any pain. Can you imagine being injected everytime they needed to get anything inside your body? I had that for about 2 weeks. Day after day, these tubes were taken out one by one. This enabled me to move around with ease.

During my stay in ward 6A, I enjoyed having visitors everyday. Unfortunately, I could not speak at all. I had to talk through my laptop, typing away questions and answers. Good thing that I am a fast typist. On May 1st, which was a labor day, I had the most number of visitors. One of the visitors was my Pengetua. I was really touched by her visit. The rest were my colleagues, my fellow Etems JUs, my Perdagangan team, my relatives and friends. Thanks everyone for taking your time to visit me. That really kept me going.

Cikgu Fauzi, my good friend, came near and started typing something on his handphone. He was trying to wish me luck. Then, I had to point out to him that I was not deaf. I just could not speak! He laughed about it.


"Life is too short"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quality of Life

Assalamualaikum wrbt:

Before my operation, my doctor said that at least 3/4 of my tongue will have to be removed or possibly the whole tongue. The prospect of being left without a tongue really sounded scary. A lot of things came into my mind. First, my career in the teaching line, all that hard work and sacrifice would be down the drain because most probably I would not be able to speak. Next, my family. Would they be able to understand me? Lastly, food. Would I be able to eat at all? What is going to happen to me? Well, lets not think of the worst. For all you know, I might still be able to retain 1/4 of the tongue. That is better than nothing, right?

Then, came the big day, April 16. I was told that my lower jaw would be cut through the middle and an incision would be made on the neck area from ear to ear. This is to enable the doctors to have access to the tongue and the floor of the mouth and the lymph nodes around the neck. They had to take out the lymph nodes because normally, in oral cancer cases, the cancer cells would surely get to the lymph nodes sooner or later. Ok, this is it. I was pushed into the operation theatre at 11.25 am. I was then introduced to the surgeons ( there were 5 or 6 of them) which consisted of the ENT specialists, plastic surgeons, anasthetic team and the nurses. Well, I couldn't care less. I was in my own world. Then, one of them placed the oxygen mask on my nose and I started saying the shahadah. After the fifth shahadah, I was in a dreamland.

When I came around, I was already in the ICU, all wired up. The first voice I heard was that of my husband. He said,"Don't think of anything. The doctors have done their best. Just rest. Don't worry about anything." At that moment, I knew that I had lost my tongue. I just nodded.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Hello to all:

According to my doctor, Kedah has the highest number of oral cancer cases in Malaysia which is quite puzzling. Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah in Alor Setar has performed about a hundred major oral cancer operations within 8 years. During my stay in the hospital for about 3 weeks, I witnessed 5 patients who had the operation. I was the only one who was able to take in food orally.

Being quite a young patient for oral cancer, I was able to communicate rather effectively with the doctors and nurses by using my laptop and handphone. However, many other patients had a hard time to tell what they needed or the problems they had. There was one elderly patient who was probably about 70 yrs old and had partial glossectomy, meaning part of the tongue removed. He tried so hard to speak but no body understood. He could not write either. He was taken care by his daughter. Because of the difficulties in communication, both father and daughter were constantly at loggerheads. The daughter's inability to understand her father irritated him so much.

10 days after my operation, an appointment with an oncologist was set because the lab report was ready. I was informed by the oncologist that the operation was successful and the tumour taken out had a clear margin and the cancer was only at stage 2. Therefore, following treatments are not necessary, meaning that I am spared from radio therapy and chemotherapy. I was so relieved because the side effects from both treatments can be horrendous. Thank god.

"Syukur Alhamdulillah"
"Life is too short"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Prroses Sebelum Pembedahan

Selepas mendapat keputusan biopsi yang mengesahkan saya mengidap kanser lidah, saya terpaksa membuat ct scan untuk mengenalpasti saiz ketumbuhan. Ct scan itu dibuat pada 27 Mar di hospital Sultan Abdul Halim, Sungai Petani. Untuk pengetahuan semua, proses ct scan ini dimulakan dengan satu suntikan cecair berwarna ke dalam urat di lengan supaya imej ketumbuhan cancer boleh dipaparkan dengan jelas. Kemudian, saya dibaringkan atas satu katil yang akan bergerak ke dalam satu gelung yang akan memancarkan gelombang ke bahagian mulut dan tekak. Hmm..ok juga. Tidak menakutkan seperti yang diberitahu oleh beberapa orang yang pernah melaluinya. Selepas itu, doktor membuat temujanji untuk berjumpa dengan pakar Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) atau Pakar otorinolaringology. Itu baru saya tahu bahawa otorinolaringology itu adalah sama dengan ENT. Pada 1 hb April, saya bersama suami pergi berjumpa dengan pakar ENT tersebut iaitu Dr Hisham. Setelah merujuk kepada imej ct scan, Dr Hisham kata cancer saya ini adalah tahap 2-3 dan rawatan yang terbaik ialah pembedahan di mana 2/3 atau semua lidah terpaksa dipotong. Katanya saya tidak akan dapat bercakap dan akan menghadapi masalah untuk makan. Pembedahan itu pula akan disusuli dengan rawatan radio therapy. Perasaan saya waktu itu hanya tuhan yang tahu, tapi, saya fikir saya terpaksa menghadapi segalanya dengan tabah dan sabar. Ini baru saya faham makna sabar dalam erti kata sebenar. Bukan senang nak bersabar menghadapi ujian Allah. Pembedahan itu pula adaah pembedahan besar (major operation) dan hanya hospitl Sultanah Bahiyah, Alor Star sahaja yang ada kepakaran dan kelengkapan untuk melakukannya. Pada 7hb. April saya pergi jumpa pakar ENT Dr. Zulkifli di hospital AS. He is a very good and experience doctor. Selepas memeriksa lidah saya, beliau terus kata cancer saya adalah tahap 4 dan perlu dibedah dengan segera. Nasib baik tak ada tahap 5. Kalau tidak mungkin dia kata tahap 5, saya fikir dalam hati. Beliau memberi tarikh 16 April untuk pembedahan tersebut. Dia tanya adakah saya bersetuju. Nak kata apa. I had no choice. Nak lidah ka? Nak nyawa ka?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What causes oral cancer?

When I was first diagnosed for having oral cancer, the first question asked by the doctor was "Do you take betel leave(sireh)?". The next question was "Do you smoke?". And the third was "Do you drink (liquor)?". Well, of course the answer to the three questions is none of the above. Age wise, I am considered too young to have oral cancer, because most of the time, oral cancer strikes people at the age of 55 and above. So, I am proud to say that I was the youngest patient with oral cancer in the ward. When people ask me, why I got the cancer, the only answer I could think of is "kena loteri", or "I hit the jackpot". It can happen to anybody. However, according to the doctor, if your answer is "yes" to any of the three questions above, you are in the high risk group of getting it. Believe me, once you get it there is no way you can get back the quality of life you enjoyed before. As for me, being able to eat and be understood is already a blessing for I know that there are many oral cancer patients who have to have their stomachs inserted with feeding pegs (a peg is kind of tube) to enable them to stay nourished because they can't take food orally and speak at all.

"Syukur Alhamdulillah'
"Life is too short"

Monday, June 09, 2008

Masalah Bercakap

Salam to all!
Beberapa hari yang lalu, beberapa pelajar saya datang melawat saya di rumah. Mereka adalah terdiri dari pelajar yang saya seringkali tegur dan telinga mereka saya tarik kerana pelbagai sebab. Kedatangan mereka betul2 menceriakan saya. Mereka bertanyakan bermacam2 soalan. Antaranya ialah:
-bagaimana cikgu makan?
-cikgu rasa sakit tak?
-cikgu akan mengajar lagi tak?
Sebenarnya, soalan-soalan ini seringkali ditanya oleh sesiapa saja yang datng melawat saya. Apabila saya menjawab secara lisan, komen yang pertama ialah, "eh! boleh cakaplah". Rupa2, kebanyakan orang yang mendengar tentang penyakit saya sangkakan saya telah menjadi bisu. Saya boleh bercakap tetapi tidak sejelas mereka yang mempunyai lidah tetapi masih boleh difahami. Tentang sama ada saya akan kembali mengajar, mungkin tidak sebab saya bercadang untuk melibatkan diri dalam bidang penyelidikan. Niat saya itu sudah pun ada sebelum saya mendapat penyakit ini. Dari segi makan pula, saya terpaksa menggunakan otot-otot mulut yang lain untuk menolak makanan ke kerongkong. Agak susah, tapi saya rasa semakin mudah apabila dilakukan berulang kali. Deria rasa memang kurang. Tapi masih boleh rasa sedikit. Oleh itu, saya bersyukur sebab Allah tidak tarik kesemua nikmatnya yang kebanyakan kita take for granted.

"Life is Too Short"

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hello, all!
In my excitement to start my blog I completely forgot to introduce myself. My name is Sharifah Rashidah. 46 years young. Married with 3 school going children, all boys. Working as a teacher, that is before cancer knocked on my door. Now, it depends on how much I can speak. I am teaching in a secondary school, SMK Air Merah in Kedah. Been teaching there since 2003. I love travelling, reading, and listening to oldies. Good thing that eating is not my favourite pastime! Lost so much weight in the past few months. So, I need to try my best to gain some.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Cancer Fighting food

Hi, everyone!

For those with cancer, a restricted diet is recommended - very restricted for four months, then if the patient is doing well, it is liberalised to a certain extent. The restricted diet is:

Vegetarian (it takes large quantities of pancreatic (digestive) enzymes to digest meat - these are the enzymes that dissolve the protein lining of the cancer cells which can then be killed by white blood cells) i.e. no meat (including chicken), fish, and no dairy produce. Milk contains growth factors and hormones known to promote breast and prostate and other types of cancer - Professor Jane Plant CBE The Plant Programme (Virgin, London 2001) p9.

Fresh vegetables and fruit - should be eaten raw if possible because cooking destroys enzymes. (Juicing is a delicious way of ingesting raw fruit and vegetables ) Cook vegetables lightly if necessary. Eat a wide variety, and eat the seed of the fruit e.g. apple pips, grape seeds, peach kernels.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

After Operation

I had my operation on april 16 2008. It was a total glossectomy whereby the whole tongue is removed and the doctor made a flap which consists of some tissue taken from my chest. The artificial tongue is non-functional. This simply means that speaking and eating are greatly affected. After the 9 hour operation, I was pushed to the ICU where I stayed for a day and a half. There all kinds of tubes inserted into my body. My chin and cheeks were swollen. After the ICU, I was transferred into the ward where the nurses monitored my progress. I was fed through the tube for i could not take anything orally. That happened for 2 weeks. I could not talk at all. Had to communicate via the handphone and laptop.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It started as a normal ulcer under my tongue in October last year (2007). there was a molar which did not sit on the lower jaw properly. That molar kept on rubbing against the wound. So, I applied some ointment on the wound. It didn't go away after a few days, so, more ointment. I finally noticed that the wound got bigger and bigger. Finally, a lump started to take shape on the tongue. That was when I lost my ability to speak accurately. On top of that I could not eat solid food. I had to settle on soft food only. In Feb 2008, I decided to have that tooth extracted. Still, the ulcer just refused to budge. Then, my husband started noticing that something is seriously wrong with me. We decided that I should go to an oral surgeon, and i did. I went to an oral surgeon in the Sungai Petani Hospital. Dr. Sumairi, the doctor who attended to me decided to do a biopsy. That was on mar 12. On mar 19, we went back to the doctor to discuss the result of the biopsy. It was positive, malignant cancer!! I was too numbed to feel anything at all. Dr. Sumairi arranged for a ct scan to be done to see how far the cancer cells had spread. Then, an appointment with an ent specialist was set. On Mar 26, we went to see Dr. Hisham the ent specialist. After examining me, he said that possibly the whole tongue will have to be removed and the whole procedure would involve a team of plastic surgeons as well. In between appointments I had also been to some people who are practising alternative medicines which have proven quite useless because in the end on April 16 I lost all my speaking ability, which has been my bread and butter working as a teacher.