Thursday, November 27, 2008

Life with Cancer

The word, CANCER, is such a scary word. Through out the previous few months, friends and relatives who visited me, are always trying to be politically correct by not directly referencing my health condition as CANCER. For example, they will always be very careful with the choice of words such as “How are feeling today with your health condition?” “How is your Fight with the disease?” etc. etc. In a way, I am sort of getting use to all the politically correct terminologies. Honestly speaking, I know I have Cancer, and I accept the fact that it is a terminal disease. By not referencing the word Cancer is not going to change the outcome. As far as I am concern, I am no longer obsessed with the longitivity of life. For better or for worst, to live the remaining part of my life meaningfully, it is my obligation to ensure I live a Quality life. In this regard, I seek not sympathy for my unintended situation, but, I sincerely appreciate my friends and relatives can convert their sympathies into moral support. I do sincerely need all the moral support to fight and move on with life.

I have completed 2 rounds of chemotherapies. I am schedule to receive my 3rd chemotherapy treatment on this coming Monday. I did not encounter any problem after my first chemotherapy, but the second chemotherapy did give some surprises. After the second chemotherapy, I developed sore throat, ulcers in the tongue, dry palms, tingling sensation in my arm, loss of appetite, and chest pains. I do hope, after the 3rd chemotherapy, the side effects will be minimized and manageable. I do not look forward to this coming Monday’s treatment, but what choice do I have, it is part of the necessary actions in the recovery of my health. Whatever it is, I do hope the coming blood test qualify me to be medically fit to receive my 3rd chemotherapy.

As I mentioned in my previous journal entry that, cancer has changed my life, and it will never be the same again. Indeed, the previous few months has been a very difficult but enlightening experience.

Every morning, I wake up to the realization that, I have to live with that extra lump of protoplasm in my body. That protoplasm is not just any amoeba splitting and dividing at an exponential rate, but potentially a biological time bomb that will eventually consume me if my treatment regime failed. The more I tried to forget about my current negative health, the more I am being reminded of the fragility of life. Every morning, I wake up with abdominal pain and congested chest. Those nasty mutants do have a persistent way of trying to demoralize me with their nasty actions of inflicting consistent pains to my body, and fears into my mind. But I am still a logical sane man, to recover my health, I need to have stronger determination and faith in GOD of not allowing fears and physical pains to poison my mental well-being. I know where I stand in the great scheme that the Almighty designed for me, the mighty God will eventual make a way for me in the right direction to attain spiritual enlightenment to overcome my emotional fears and physical pains.

My niece gave me a new Bible with bigger print because I was struggling and having trouble reading the small print Bible. As I flipped through the pages of the new Bible, the following verses came out. :

“And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” – Matthew 17:20.

I know, it is a long road ahead for me to win this battle against Cancer. But I have faith in the Almighty that eventually, I shall overcome this medical condition to claim my entitled victory. “My enemies (tumor) will retreat when I call to you for help, This I know: God is on my side” Psalm 56:9.

I can sense the presence of Almighty God around me. I know, he is cheering me on to have more faith in HIM. I shall.

I am here to live my life. Praise the Lord.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Round Three : The side effects

Looking at my notes, the combinations of drugs used for my chemotherapy are Gemcitabine, 5-fluorouracil, Oxaliplatin, and folinic Acid. I had my second chemotherapy on November 10th, 2008. Officially, I am now on the Nadir Point of my second Chemotherapy treatment. Nadir Point is the period during the 7th to 14th days after the chemotherapy where the body experience low blood counts. So, I guess, during this period, I am physically the weakest against infectious diseases.

During the first week, I did encountered some side effects such as ulcers on the tongue and sore throat. Luckily, the symptoms disappeared after a few days. However, since the previous few days, I had been troubled by other side effects such as dried palm, tingling sensation on my left arm, short of breath, and chest pain. I was advised to take more rest and drink more fluids to counter the side effects.

My back pains is now minimal, but the the abdominal pains is still irritatingly disturbing throughout the days. I do hope over the course of the next few chemotherapy sessions, the pains will go away.

I am still trying to cope with the loss of appetite. My taste bud has completely changed. I am resorting to taking small meals at regular and frequent interval, and USANA nutritional supplements to ensure my body is not stressed by malnutrition. I was told the loss of appetite is a temporary side effect and I will gain back my appetite after I completed all the chemotherapy session.

Overall, after the 2nd chemotherapy treatment, I do felt very weak physically and easily fatigued. I pray the Almighty will restore my strength and health soon. It is rather frustrating not able to control the pace of my daily activities.

By the way, I am in the process of compiling and publishing a book documenting my life and experiences dealing with cancer. I hope to complete the book before Christmas. I am self financing the publication of this book. For a start, 1000 copies will be printed. After deducting the costs of production, a portion of the “profit” will be donated to Pure Life Society's orphanage. If you are interested to purchase this book, please send me a email at

Now, back to reality. I know, cancer is a dreaded disease. But with modern medicine and God on my side, those mutant cancer cells had found a new enemy. The name of their enemy is Uncle Dalai Baru ! With heightened zest for life, and faith in spirituality, I am now more determined than ever to kick their butts and flush them out through my real orifice.

C'est La Via, this is my Life. Life is all that matter. I will celebrate life, live graciously, and live one day at a time. Like it or not, I will claim my victory against those nasty cancer cells, and have my last laugh........

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Round Three : A week that was…

It’s been a week since I received my chemotherapy. For those who have not experienced chemo treatments, it can be quite an emotionally exhaustive and depressing experience. Put it this way, the treatment room are full of cancer patients waiting for their turn to be injected with cancer drugs. I am already very weary of having needle poking into various part of my arm. There are varieties of expressions exhibited by the cancer patients. Although most of them tried their level best to showcase their positive and brave sides, but being a patient myself, looking through their eyes and body languages, I felt their senses of uncertainty and sadness of being entrapped into the unwelcome predicaments.

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, I received my chemo therapy on Monday morning, where a combination of drugs was intravenously pumped into my body. The session lasted about 2 hours. Everything went well, and I was discharged in the evening on the same day.

On the second day onward, in spite of my determination to be positive and look forward to the curative effects of the chemo, I developed sore throat and ulcers on the tongue. The new complications made food intakes extremely uncomfortable. In addition, I also encountered uncontrollable mood swings, where I find it difficult to control my emotions. I was hit by miserable emotions and was trying very hard to get out of it. I know, if I allow these negative emotions to consume me, it will ultimately affect my family members. To overcome these problems, I resorted to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth my Oral-B after every meals, as well as drinking a lot of liquid to hopefully “dilute” the infections in throat and tongue. I also keep myself alone and occupied with reading the Bible to keep my mind at ease. Miraculously, reading the Bible did restore calmness into my mind. Praise the Almighty for allowing me this luxury of mental escapism.

Thanks God, the sore throats and ulcers at the tongue disappeared on the fifth day. With regards to the unexpected moods swings, it is back to normalcy now. At least, for the time being, I am in control of my emotion, and my negative energy did not dissipate out to affect the emotional well being of my family members.

With regards to pain management, I had been out of pain killer for the last one week. My back pain is now randomly minimal, and my abdominal pain is also manageable now. I like to think of this as a good sign of recovery.

Whatever it is, I do realized; my current state of health had changed and turned my life up side down. I know, life will never be the same again. From now on, I will have to try my best to adapt to the new situation to make the best out of every new circumstance. It sounds like it is going to be a journey into the unknown, but I know, through the grace of the Almighty, these new challenges will eventually enriched and enlightened my life. I believe, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. HOPE and FAITH shall be my greatest medicine to overcome Cancer. At the end of the day, Life is always a philosophy of Mind over Matter, and I am now in the process of living it. I will always have a Strong mind to manage this small cancer matter !

At the moment, I do feel very tire. I am closing off this blog entry with a prose I wrote in November 2007:

Life's Journey?

to be alive for years,
yet when finality descends,
Would we be able to depart
with purpose accomplished?

We live the days,
as if death was nowhere.
We immortalized selfish agenda,
relentlessly pursuit wealth and power,
and seeking recognition of accomplishments.
there shall come a time,
we shall travel long and far,
to seek that distance glorious lights,
finding our way home
to Almighty's eternal paradise.

With a tired body in eternal rest,
and soul set free from this realm,
would we be able to bid farewell,
to all the people we once loved?
Would we be able to seek forgiveness
to all the people we once wronged?

The musicians fiddle the riddles.
Friends and loved one
whisper silent prayers.
Down into the darkness of grave.
Can we hear?
Can we feel?
Can we realize?
What fool we once were?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Round Three : The battle continues.....

Round Two officially end this morning. Who wins ? I think, after losing Round One, I am entitled to claim victory for Round Two. Because, I am still standing tall and physically, mentally, and spiritually able to proceed to the next round. My red blood cells, white blood cells, and palette counts are within optimum level. In fact, I even got a gut feeling that the tumor at the pancreas has reduce in size, because the pain at my back is more manageable now.

This morning, I went to Tung Shin Hospital at around 8:00AM, got my blood test done at 8:30AM, and finally started my next round of Chemotherapy around 11:00AM. The chemotherapy treatment last approximately two hours. I was later checked into the wad to rest and to have my weight, blood pressure, and temperature taken. Finally, I was checked out from the wad at around 5:10PM, and my wife drive me home from the hospital and I manage to reach home at around 6:00PM.

Talking about weight, over the past three weeks, I had manage to arrest my declining weight. Three months ago, I use to weight around 102kg, and the weight dropped to around 74kg three weeks ago. Over, I lost approximately 28kg of weight over a period of three months, that is equivalent to 62 lbs of weight ! But today, my weight has improved slightly to 77kg, an increased of 3kg over the previous 3 weeks. So, for the time being, I have one less worry in managing my recovery of health. I guess, Almighty God is responding to my prayers and slowly restoring my faith and confidence. Praise the Lord.

Coming to my tumor thingy, I think the reason I am inflicted with cancer is probably I am too rational and logical in life, to the extend of neglecting my spiritual obligations to the Almighty. I was basically too HARD for the Almighty to communicate to me. I guess, I deserved the punishments from the Almighty to soften me, and to make me realized how insignificant I am without spiritual enlightenment.

One thing for sure, for the next three week, I am going to win this Round Three. My strategy for this round is to have more focus on physical, mental, and spiritual areas. In terms of Physical well-being, I will continue my morning exercise, spend more times to beautify my garden, and maybe start another daily session of evening exercise. For mental well being, I guess the best medicine is laughter. I will have to laugh more often, watch more comedy movies, take things at more leisure level, and to complete shut myself off from office related issues. For spiritual well being, I have found a new reliance and paradise. I shall attend more church services, and read the holy book consistently to enlighten myself with words of God. I have complete faith in God to heal me and restore my health at his timing. Surprising thing is, since I accepted Lord Jesus Christ, I enjoys certain unexplained calmness and God's peace which my limited logical and rational mind can not explain.

Almighty God, gratefully, I thank you for your mercy, hearing, and answering my prayers. Well, whatever it is, Round Three has started. Here I am, I am going to fight a good fight.........

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Reflections : Mission almost accomplished.....

My son finally qualified to graduate from his Bachelor of Science program. I certainly look forward to attend his graduation ceremony in January 2009. He has also secured a job in a software development company, and will be starting his new job in mid November 2008.

I guess, the greatest joy of fatherhood is to see your children growing up, completing their college education, and starting their career. Hopefully, I can also have the opportunity to see them getting married, start a family of their own, and allow me the opportunity to hold my grandchildren on my lap.

Time flies. It seemed like only yesterday when I bottle feed my son, saw him crawl, standing up, taking the first step forward, etc. I can still remember his lovely, cute, and innocent smiles when he was a child. As a father, I had tried to devote all my responsibilities and commitments to caring for him and seeing to his needs. But there are also times during his early childhood where I was too busy to have time for him. But now, he has grown up, taller than me, and such a fine young man. Praise be with the almighty for blessing me with the opportunity to have the experiences of bringing up a child into adulthood. What a relief to see my son now having the capability to take the first step of adulthood in starting a career on his own. A father will always has hope for his son. Likewise, as a father, my only hope is, he can have the sensibility to maintain his health, work hard to develop his career, be responsible toward his family, and most important of all, has the wisdom to balance his time between family, friends, and career. Whatever it is, in order for him to develop his full potential, I have to learn to let him go to venture out on his own. I do hope, mentally, I am prepare to accept this reality and eventuality.

Since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, my son has been trying hard to conceal his feelings. From a rebellious teenager, suddenly, he tried his level best to be responsive to me in a very awkward manner. Gone are all those immature and childlike behaviors. He has been trying to act tough, to grow up, and behaved like a responsible adult. Well, a father will always knows what is in his children's minds. I thank the Almighty for guiding my son to the right path. Honestly, seeing my son “growing up” is indeed a magical experience for me !

Is my responsibilities toward my son over ? Well, I guess as long as I still hold the last breath, my son will always be my responsibilities. The only different now is, I need to change my approach when dealing with him. Instead of giving him instructions on what to do like I used to, now it is more appropriate for me to act as his advisor, giving my opinions only when he requested them. And to have my door open for him whenever he needs me in a supporting role. Perhaps, maybe it is the right time for him to slowly take over his financial responsibilities such as paying for his car installments, insurance premiums, etc.

As a father, I know, his time will come, he will be successful in his own right and at his own terms. I do hope I can live long enough to see the day and share the joy of his success with him. But I also know, cancer is a terminal disease, and I do have doubt of my availability when the time comes. Whatever it is, I will fight with determination and discipline to restore my health. I will always be there for him, and I will not let him down. The almighty has given the greatest gift of my life, and I know, he Almighty will also grant me the opportunity to pass my parents' wisdom to my son, and cherish his accomplishment in the future.

I look forward to the day when he no longer need me anymore. Because, when that happen, I know, he will be a man of his own, ready to move on with his life, and my mission accomplished.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reflections : The Almighty & Me....

I was born in a Taoist family in Taiping, Malaysia. Through the mistake of the nurse at the government hospital, I was registered as a Buddhist in my birth certificate. My parents, being less educated, was not aware of the administrative mistake. So, here you go, I became a Buddhist Taoist.

During my early childhood, it doesn't really bother me what religion I belonged to. Because I never learn how to pray and bother about the ritualistic procedure of offering prayers to the various deities and ancestor worshiping. All I ever remember is, during the first day of Chinese New Year, I followed my late mother to all the Taoist temple in town. My mother, being a very religious person, pray to whatever “God” she came into contact with. There are occasions, she pray to Mother Mary, the deities at the Hindu temples, etc. So, from very young age, I am exposed to various religions.

Due to the fact that, both my parents are not educated, I never came across any Buddhism or Taoism text in my house them. So, the practice of religion is basically via oral history and by observing the rituals performed by my late mother during certain Taoist ceremonies. The only religious chant I ever learned is “Namo Amithaba”. Along the way, I also learned to remember the birthrate of the deities, anniversary date for offering prayer to ancestors, all souls day, and the passing over of winter.

As a Taoist, I learned to use the correct number of joss sticks when offering prayer to the deities and ancestors. I carry on with my parents' “religious traditions” right to the present day where I set up special altars in my home to pay respect to Tor Pek Kong ( Hokkien God of Prosperity), Kuan Yim ( Godess of Mercy), Chai Kong ( the Beggar monk), Teh Chu Kong ( The landlord deity), and the ancestor altar for my late parents.

The reality of my spirituality at this stage is basically quite simple. I believe in the existence of various sages and deities. For example, the Jade Emperor is the supreme deity that control the Heaven, the Nine Emperors God is the deity that control the sea, etc.

In terms of Buddhism, Buddha never claimed to be a God or prophet. He is basically a great teacher of human philosophy specializing in the truth of life. Taoism, on the other hand, according to my understanding, is basically teaching the moral values of family and society. So these two religions formed my fundamental understanding of spirituality and religions.

At a very young age, I ventured into Canada to receive my so called modern western education. So, I do believed, my informal religious familiarization during my early childhood and tertiary education shaped me to be a religiously open minded and rational person rather than a spiritual man.

As I grow older, there is also a deep sense of urge within me to the realization that my rational ( physical ) well being is actually depended on my spiritual well being. The 2 contrasts of faith and reason at times, does spiraled me into unexplained hallucinations. There are times, in my dreams, I had conversations with ganapathy, chaikong, torpekkong, etc. I even saw the manifestation of Kuan Yim in the form of Clouds formation. Perhaps, this is a form of escapism from my mind to temporary shut out the conflicting values to eliminate unnecessary mental stress.

I had never take spirituality as a critical factor in life. I perceived spirituality as an irrational science. Frankly, I find it difficult to reconcile spirituality with logical deduction. For me to live meaningfully and productively in this life, it is better for me to adapt to the physical habitat, with both feet on the ground, and adopt a practical lifestyle to survive. I can never find justification to have blind faith in something that I can not physically and logically justify. Does that made me anti-God or an unbeliever ? On the contrary, my secular outlook can be at times oxymoronic. The bottom line is, as much as I am logically rational about my approach in life, I also happen to believe in the existence of the Almighty, and the need for a more holistic life by embracing spirituality. My personal feeling is, between faith and reason, I had yet to be enlightened to have the elusive knowledge to understand spirituality using my limited knowledge of physical science. Eventually, all roads lead to Rome. I do believe, as I age, there shall be a sentimental path laid out for me by the Almighty to seek my salvation in spirituality.

"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

I do personally believe in miracle, but for miracle to materialize, I need to have strong faith in spirituality. But I will not indulged in blind faith in seeking miracles. For example, if I am sick, I would consult a medical doctor and take the prescribed medications, at the same time, complement modern medicine with prayer to God for speedy recovery. It would be illogical for me to refuse medical treatment by depending solely on prayers alone to seek restoration of health.

I am, after all, a logical man seeking enlightenment to be accepted in an increasingly illogical world. I had accepted Lord Jesus Christ as my savior, and also converted to Christianity. I sincerely pray to the almighty to grant me the grace and wisdom to understand spirituality and the truth of life.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Reflections : My hope.....

When you realized that finality of life is not too far away, and like a game of cards, you are about to show hand, what would occupy your mind while awaiting that elusive road to take you home ? I guess, I would hope that the road that eventually lead you home is not a rough and torturous one, that it would be a smooth and painless passage with flowers on both sides. Of course, I must also have the faith to believe that everything will work out at the end of the day, that I will be healthy again, and live life happily ever after. See, despite all the fear for death or uncertainty, I do have a great sense of humors.

My sister sent me this little prayer...... “Father, thank You for Your calling on my life. I seek Your Complete Healing, strength, favor, and anointing. Free me from this cancer curse. Wash me clean with the blood of Christ. Others will come to know Jesus through my witness. In His name. Amen.” Well, I pray hard. But I also believe in helping myself by having faith in modern medicine. Sometimes, I do wonder, if the Almighty is so all knowing, all loving, and all powerful, why did he allow human being to suffer unnecessarily ? This is tthe part of spirituality I still find it difficult to comprehend.

Of late, I had also been thinking about my family. Would life be ever the same again in the event that the good lord decides to call me home ? Would they be strong enough to face the challenges ahead ? I do hope the Almighty grant them the grace and courage to love and be loved in this wonderful world, and move on with life.

As a man, I am no different compare to others. I am after all, also a common man with simple hope and aspiration. I love my family. They are my hope, my joy, and my sense of being. As a father, I hope my son will have a good career, marries a good woman, and have a happy family of his own. I also hope my 2 daughters have good husbands who will honour, respect, and give them the comfortable home. As for my wife, I hope she can continue to receive the blessings of the Almighty to live a comfortable life.

Come to think of it, maybe I was chosen to be inflicted with this illness because I am mentally, emotionally, and physically the strongest in the family. That, I am strong enough in all aspects to shoulder and withstand the difficulties ahead. If this is the criteria that made me the chosen one, then so be it. But I do hope the Almighty spared my siblings and family members from being inflicted with this dreaded disease again, ever.

My recent encounters of managing my health problem also made me realized that, it is indeed a very expensive affair to fall sick. I was indeed very lucky to be able to afford this expensive health care, but to average Malaysian, I doubt most of them will be as lucky as me. I do hope, there will be greater awareness and research into chronic and terminal diseases, to bring down the costs of treatment, and make it affordable to everybody. Of course, I also hope, in the not so distant future, chronic and terminal disease will be completely wipe off from the face of this earth, where humanity will no longer have to suffer from these unkind illnesses and diseases.

Whatever it is, I have faith in myself to regain my health. I know tomorrow will be a better day. I will claim my victory tomorrow, and one day at a time. On the other hand, I will also pray hard and stand ready to receive miracles.

Life goes on, and that's life................

人 生 自 古 誰 無 死, 留 取 丹 心 照 汗 青

Since time immemorial, which mortal man doesn't dies ? I shall leave behind my deeds and sincerity be the sparkles of history.......