Hello! I'm Leonie. I’m from Malaysia. I am nineteen this year, and I have Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - a kind of blood cancer. I’m just trying to live my life to the fullest, without any regrets. I'm grateful that I’m still able to wake up to a brand new day and know that I'm still alive.

I refuse to refer to my condition as a disease. I would rather phrase it as a 'series of unfortunate events'.

I learn something new with each passing day. This is the story of my journey, and you're welcome to follow me in every step that I take.

If you would like to learn more about me and my condition, feel free to click on the navigations below. If you have any queries or would just like to say hello, drop me an e-mail at and I'll try to respond as soon as possible!



Friday, 8 October 2010
thank you, Sister.

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.
L: Alright!
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!
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.

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!

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