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"