Saturday, 30 October 2010
I'll be leaving for Malacca again tomorrow. I really hope that Monday will be my last visit to the hospital for chemotherapy. Sure, I'll be making occasional trips there for checkups. But honestly, like how I'd been telling my close friends - I really can't wait to get this cancer shit over and done with.
Five months of my precious final year in high school was and still is being spent self-quarantined at home. I wouldn't call myself a social butterfly, but I enjoy interacting with different people. Going to school and attending tuition classes allow me to do so. Honestly, I'm not the kind of person who enjoys being cooped up at home so much.
Sure, there are the pros and cons. I bonded with my family members a lot since me getting to know I have cancer, especially my mum. Everybody is being very nice and patient with me. No matter how moody, cranky or worried they are, they will immediately put a smile on their faces when it comes to talking to me and reassuring me that I am indeed going to fully recover from lymphoma. I appreciate that a lot. I am truly blessed to have such awesome family members, even if they have their flaws. Hey, we're all perfectly imperfect. Beyond those imperfections, there are that little bit of themselves which makes them uniquely them.
It's already the 30th of October. Starting from November onwards, I am going to take a break from the online world and focus on doing well for SPM. Of course, I'm aiming for straight A's. It's the least I can do to please my parents and make them proud of me. Not forgetting some of my schoolteachers who believe in my abilities to score well in SPM. Still, I have to take my health into consideration. Definitely, I'll do my best in the exams. The results? I'll just have to hope that the examiners who are marking my papers will be in a tremendously good mood and be more lenient with whatever answers I can come up with then.
After the first week of SPM, I'm due for a PET scan. That scan will determine whether I have to go back for more chemotherapy sessions or whether I'm cancer-free or not. Who doesn't hope for the latter?
I sincerely hope that this journey of mine can come to an end really soon. It hasn't been easy, but I'm glad that I'd managed to make it this far.
Thursday, 21 October 2010
I read an article today in The Star newspaper. Here are the excerpts that I particularly want to highlight, but you can read the full article here.
Post-doctoral research scientist with the Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (Carif) Dr Lim, 34, said she was always saddened to read about cancer patients. The news of their diagnosis is devastating and sounds like a death sentence.
“I want to do something to help them through science,” said Dr Lim, who is from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
Her research project is to use vaccines to train immune cells to detect and recognise cancer cells which escape the immune system, and kill them.
“This form of targeted therapy generates a highly specific immune response towards the tumour and is expected to be associated with fewer side effects typically compared to chemotherapy.
“In addition, it can hunt out recurring cancer and is relatively cheaper compared with other targeted cancer treatment methods,” she explained.
Dr Lim’s role model is Nobel Laureate Marie Curie and she dreams of having a research life like Curie, who excelled during an era of male dominance. Curie discovered the theory of radioactivity and under her direction, people started to treat cancer using radioactive isotopes.
“Don’t be afraid of failure. Science is not easy and you will encounter multiple challenges but don’t give up!” Dr Lim advises young women scientists.I'm praying so hard for her success. We all should.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
Being a cancer patient now, especially at this particular age - I honestly regret the past me. Me who did not understand the ups and downs of an individual who has cancer.
I read many newspaper articles over the years about cancer patients and survivors of different ages, telling their stories. I have seen charity shows on television, seeking funds to help the needy. All of them have their problems and difficulties.
As part of an audience, their stories can impact your lives. You can either choose to help them or people in similar situations, or not give a damn at all.
I was one of the people who watch and read their stories. Then, I feel bad because I'm not able to do much to help them. Next, I'll remind myself of one of my personal vows to make sure that I give back to society - financially when I have a stable income, physically and emotionally as a girl who has been blessed enough compared to how life has treated them. Finally, I'll say a silent prayer, thanking the Creator for my current life. The cycle repeats itself over and over.
So, when cancer hit me, it made me grow up really quickly. I learnt life lessons in a matter of days, months even that might take others nearly a lifetime to learn. Maybe never at all.
As much as people claim to understand my situation or my family's, in the end, it's really up to my own willpower to fight this annoying shit called lymphoma. The support, encouragement, prayers and well-wishes I have been getting all this while from my family, relatives, friends, teachers, tuition teachers, acquaintances and even strangers - they sure make me stronger, and their good intentions remind me of a very solid reason to fight on and get cancer over and done with.
Hey! I'm still seventeen. There are so many things I want to do - things that I'm passionate about, ambitions to achieve, fears to conquer, and of course - to enjoy the simplicity of joy and happiness.
There was a possibility that lymphoma could have taken my life away. There was a possibility that my parents would lose a daughter. My brother, a sister. My buddies, a friend. My teachers, a student. The people who know me, a familiar face. And the list goes on and on.
I took a lot of things for granted before. Funny how you only start to appreciate someone or something only when they are gone.
Knowing me, I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. Hence, as of the 5th of July this year, my new motto in life is to definitely stop and smell the roses. I think all of us should, too.
Sometimes, I wish I could live a simple village life, where materialism hardly exists and activities like catching fish in rivers that are hardly polluted, climbing up trees and simple games are capable of bringing smiles to faces. Where the womenfolk do their household chores together, and hear them chattering away from matters ranging from the day's weather or the neighbour's daughter getting married off to some wealthy man. A place where the hustle and bustle of city life and its complications would not turn most of us into schemers, liars and betrayers.
With the aforementioned statement, I think I would like to experience a homestay programme. And of course, I want to go backpacking and explore outside Malaysia. Open up my eyes more, and see the beauty of simple, everyday matters in lands of rich cultures and traditions, unique and special in their own ways.
I know in everyday blog posts and conversations, I don't sound that deep.
Honestly, thoughts and opinions like these are what my brain processes the most.
I think last-minute studying for SPM is also playing a part in why I'm blogging about matters like these.
Cheers to all!
Sunday, 10 October 2010
Hello readers! I'm in Malacca now as I'm typing this blog entry out.
Tomorrow, I will be going for my fifth chemo session. Two more chemo sessions, inclusive of tomorrow's, and hopefully, I'm done with chemotherapy for good.
I'm praying very hard that the side-effects from tomorrow's chemo won't be too bad. I intend to do some past year papers and revise History. Honestly, I know zilch in that subject. If you wonder how I could score alright for History exams, I rely on pretty accurate tips. Of course, it's always an E for me if the paper is set by the school. Haha!
Cheers to today's date, 10/10/10!
Friday, 8 October 2010
I had a surgical biopsy scheduled on the 14th of July. It was to determine the type of lymphoma I have.
Pre-surgery procedures were carried out. I had to shower and bathe myself in antiseptic. It smelt awful, I swear. I felt nauseous due to that..indescribable smell.
A nurse had to shave my body hair from waist up. I still remember, that nurse wasn't a local. I had problems communicating with her, since she couldn't speak English nor Malay fluently. She couldn't understand Chinese either.
Being a new nurse as well, she misunderstood the instructions given to her and nearly shaved my body hair from waist down as well. I don't need to go into details, you probably can figure this one out yourself.
I had to fast from midnight onwards.
My surgery was set to start at 10AM. An hour before, I had to get myself dressed in a hospital robe. I also had to wear a shower cap. Around 9.30AM, I was wheeled in a wheelchair to the OT (Operating Theatre).
There, I was transferred to a hospital bed. Since I couldn't lie down, because back then my tumour caused me to cough badly if I did so, I was seated up instead. I was wheeled to a section where other patients that were due for their respective surgeries were waiting for their turn.
I soon met my anaesthetist, Dr. Lim. He is a humourous man. He filled me in with the effects of anaesthesia, and the possible side-effects.
After that, was one of my most secretly agonising moments.
I used the word 'secretly' because I didn't want to let it show. The agony of waiting to be wheeled into the theatre, I mean.
At first, I thought that my surgery would start the moment Dr. Lim finished lecturing me and poked another needle into me for an IV drip. I just wanted to get the surgery done and over with. It didn't help that I never went under the knife before. I was extra nervous, even though the rate of success was pretty high. Still, there's always a risk in everything we do.
A nurse there switched the heater on for me. I had to admit, it was cold there. I personally dislike feeling cold. Thankfully, I'm living in Malaysia. Crazy weather we have here, but certainly suits me well indeed.
Half an hour later, the surgeon in charge of my operation still hadn't arrived yet. I felt annoyed. It was bad enough that I was scared due to the thought of being operated on, it didn't help at all witnessing other patients being wheeled to the operating room.
The other patients were all lying down, looking very solemn. I noticed I got some stares from some of these patients as it was obvious that I was the youngest there. The stares didn't last for long though. All of us there were nervous for our respective surgeries.
I was lucky that a senior nurse approached me, and started a conversation with me. She asked me about my condition, my age, where I was from, and even about my studies. She also talked to me about my ambitions and what I wanted to do in the future after I'd graduated from secondary school. She kept me fairly distracted from me thinking about the operation too much.
The other nurses there were quite shocked to see me talking animatedly with Sister Tan. They were already used to the sombre mood of the place. Some of them came up to me, as they were curious to know more about this teenager who didn't look nervous and frightened at all! Honestly, I was still nervous. I just didn't want to let it show too much.
I even got the opportunity to see the nurses and different surgeons rushing here and there, preparing themselves for the patients' operations. At other times, it was just them sitting around, having random conversations to pass time before the next patient comes by.
Finally, two hours after my surgery was scheduled to begin, Dr. Lee arrived. I was wheeled into the theatre, and I started to pray really hard.
In the theatre, it was a very bright and white place. Unlike those you see in serial dramas and movies, the contrast of the atmosphere couldn't be missed.
A nurse helped me to put on a mask, and here comes the funny part.
Below is the conversation I had with Dr. Lim.
L - Leonie, D - Dr. Lim.
D: Okay, this is oxygen you're breathing in now. Just to let you know.To my extreme horror and shock, the so-called raspberry smell didn't smell pleasant at all! It actually smelt funny to me, and I didn't appreciate having to smell something like that. I nearly pulled my mask off, but the nurse stopped me. I panicked at the weird smell of the anaesthesia, so I took in deep, quick short breaths. Before I knew it, I knocked out shortly afterwards.
D: I'm going to start putting in the anaesthesia now. Don't worry! In a few seconds, you're going to smell a nice, berry-like smell. I'm generous to give you a raspberry flavour one!
Come to think of it, I think I panicked because my body realised I was about to fall unconscious.
The next thing I knew, I woke up in the ICU because apparently, I was in a coma. The doctors and nurses couldn't wake me up after the operation was completed.
In my humble opinion, I think I couldn't come to because I took in too much anaesthesia at the start. I secretly blame Dr. Lim for that. Haha.
And this is my story of my very first surgery.
Cheers to all!
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
This ad has been aired frequently on the Mediacorp channels. The one we see on TV isn't the full version. This video helped me to understand the whole idea of the ad better.
It's sad, really. I have to say, I love the song used for the ad though. It somehow gives me the picture of me in old age, sitting on a rocking chair and listening to this particular song on a gramophone. That's me, I don't know about you. My mother agrees with me, apparently.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
I cried badly the first time I watched this ad on TV. Just wanted to share this with my readers.