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.