Friday, February 27, 2009

Coping with cancer treatments.

It has been more than 6 month since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and undergoing various treatment regime. In other words, I was also “on leave” since September 2008. The period of “inactivities” is not something I welcome, but have to adapt to. Never before in my life, I was tested to my extreme. I have learned to cope with fear and hope, and ultimately, cultivating faith in myself, in the treatment protocols, and the Almighty.

Prior to my diagnosis, I went through various medical procedures such as colonoscopy, endoscopy, laproscopy, Computer Tomography scan, blood tests, and various antibiotics and probiotics medications. Some of these procedures are humiliating, and some are frustrating. But I am glad all these are over, and I can now focus on seeking appropriate treatment strategies.

The first treatment protocol I went through is the so called B17 protocol. It is basically an alternative treatment protocol with high dosage of various sorts of vitamins and supplements. The protocol involved a strict hourly schedule of taking pills, tablets, liquids, capsules, etc. from 7:00AM to 10:00PM on daily basis for 19 days. During the period, I was advise on non protein and non carbohydrate diet. My diet was essentially reduced to liquid foods. On completion of 19 days, I went for a blood test, and was shocked to discover that, my condition was worst than when I was first started – the cancer marker cancer marker shot up substantially. The funny part is, the person who sold me the B17 protocol told me that I am 80% cured by just looking at the blood test result, and advised me to go for another round of 19 days protocol. I consulted a few doctors, all of them advised me to consult an Oncologist, and not to take unnecessary risk taking the advise of unqualified medical personnel. Another professor in medicine told me that B17 is a hoax. I was indeed lucky that, in my time of desperations, I was still rational in making my treatment decision. I decided to consult the Oncologist and seek treatment in evidence based medicines. Come to think of it, the B17 alternative treatment protocol is nothing but an over priced and over glorified vitamin supplement.

The Oncologist advised me to opt for chemotherapy first as the first line of defense to reduce the size of the tumor and cancer marker reading. On a hindsight, I was lucky that I did not go for for another round of B17 alternative treatment, because, during the course of my regular chemotherapy session, I met several cancer patients who received B17 alternative treatment protocol, and all of them told me that it is a waste of money. The moral of the story here is, do not simply believe the claimed “success stories” of alternative treatments. Basically, these “success stories” are over glorified, and most likely can not be verified. The safest treatment option is to go for evidence based medicines such as chemotherapy, radio therapy, surgery, or procedures recommended by qualified medical doctors.

The moral of the story is, when you are stricken with cancer, please do not bet your life life on unproven alternative cancer treatments. You are taking the unnecessary risk of delaying effective conventional treatments by wasting time on unproven treatments disguised as “alternative treatments”. Take it this way, if these alternative treatments are claimed to be proven and effective, how come they are not registered with the FDA and Ministry of Health ?

I started the Chemotherapy session in October 2008. Basically, the chemotherapy involved a cocktail of liquid drugs being administered intravenously once every three weeks. In my case, I was initially put on a combination of Gemcitabine, 5-fluorouracil, Oxaliplatin, and folinic Acid. The most frustrating part of chemotherapy is having the butterfly shaped needle inserted into the blood vessel, then bearing with more than 2 hours of chemo drugs being intravenously pumped into your body. After the fifth chemotherapy, I was put on a Computer Tomography Scan and cancer marker test. The doctor was not happy with the improvement, and introduced additional chemo drugs to be taken orally on daily basis for 60 days. The additional new Chemo drug is Tarceva. Tarceva is relatively a new cancer fighting drugs. It block tumor cells growth by inhibiting enzyme within the cells associated with the epidermal growth factor receptor. In other words, it specifically go after those hardcore cancer cell, but leave the normal cells intact.

During the administration of treatment regime, the body must be well nourished. I realized, a lot of the times, cancer patients died of malnutritions rather than cancer itself. Therefore, a critical component of my treatment strategies is to ensure that I fortified my body with nutritional supplements, balance diets, and regular exercises.

In additional to the physical pains associated with cancer, the most dreadful aspect of dealing with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy is managing the side effects. In my case, I encountered lost of appetite, neuropathy, mouth ulcers, sore throats, dried palms, chest pains, fatigues, hair loss, etc. With the introduction of Tarceva, I also acquired new side effects such as severe body rashes and palpitations. But on the positive side, we are all adaptive human being, after more than six month of treatment regime, I am more or less getting used to the pains and discomforts.

Although being stricken with cancer is a nightmare, but I was awakened with incredible fighting spirit. I know, by remaining calm and positive, I shall have good fighting chance to emerge victorious against Cancer. Emotionally speaking, the previous 6 months has been an emotionally draining but amazing journey of self discoveries of embracing hope, dealing with frustrations, and confronting fears and uncertainty. Perhaps, it is a journey of self enlightenment !

Well, whatever it is, the fight goes on. I know, I am going to have a good fight. And, I do sincerely hope I can overcome this obstacle and be a walking miracle..........

Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

There are cats in my garden....

The dirty looking cat just arrogantly jumped into my garden and chased away the beautiful birds. Some people just love pussies, but the problem is, they let their pussies roaming around the neighborhood, scavenging garbage can for foods, discharging smelly faeces on other people gardens, and making all those irritating on heat noises.

To all those irresponsible cat owners, they should know, that not everybody love their smelly and dirty pussies. It looks like I have to bring in a pet dog to keep all those unwelcome cats away from my garden.

I can not understand why the local town councils are having the biases against dogs. They go all the way to hunt down dogs in the neighborhood. Some town councils even compelled dog owners to seek permissions from their neighbors before dog owning licenses are issued. But when comes to cats, the local town councils seemed to think that it is everybody goddamn rights to live with dirty pussies menaces.

I don't think a lot of people love cats. Some Asian families believed that cats bring luck to their families, but I don't see these people who don't keep cats as pets, going around hating cats, or causing difficulties to cat owners. I have no problem with cats, but I sincerely wish all those cat owners can have some basic decency civic mindedness to keep their cats under control and feed them well. I am completely repulsed by all those idiots who let their cats roaming around the neighborhood rummaging the garbage cans, and dropping the smelly faeces in my garden.

Maybe I am wrong, I do wonder whether the preferences by local authorities for cats and discrimination against dogs are driven by religious ignorances. But whatever it is, may I kindly remind the local authorities that, they are paid by the tax payers to do their jobs and not to practice their personal biases and preferences.

One question I want to put forward to some of the local town councils. Why the discriminations against dogs. Why no actions taken against stray cats and their owners ? Why not also compel the cat owners to seek permissions from their neighbors before cat owning licenses are issued ? Well, perhaps, for reasons only known to them, may be they love smelly pussies but not the old and reliable Hot Dog...

Meow....meow..... here come the pussy men looking for hot dogs again !!!!!

There are birds in my garden....

The past few mornings, I noticed, there are birds visiting my garden. There are not just any birds, but beautiful and colourful birds which I have not seen before. These birds produced the most melodious chirping sounds. I know not much about birds, and I will not attempt to name them. The important thing is, there are now birds visiting my garden almost every morning, and occasionally beautiful butterflies and dragonflies are there too.

Since being diagnosed with my present illness, and since I am n medical leave, I had been spending times to make little garden presentable, planting and replanting, herbs and flowers. It is satisfying to see the blossoming of flowers, and it is equally satisfying to see colourful birds, butterflies, and dragonflies paying visit to the garden. A little efforts in beautifying the garden does go a long way in attracting nature most beautiful creatures. Indeed, the Almighty's creations are beautiful.

After my daily morning walk, I will usually get a copy of reading materials, sit at the garden to wait for the birds to come. Occasionally I will sprinkle some rice on the grass to attract the birds to eat. When, the bird came, I will sit very still and quietly observing the birds chirping away, flipping their wings, and sprint from one place to another. Occasionally, the birds will steal a look at me, then carry on with their usual routines. Sometimes, the birds just flew in, stay for a few seconds, and then off they go to another place. Sometimes, some of the birds attempted to test their territory by going nearer and nearer to me before the fly off to another corner of the garden. I guess, birds do have personalities and are capable of most harmonious acts. Sometimes, my mind wonders whether I am in a dream, as a bird in a garden looking at the man observing me, or am I the man watching the bird ?

How do I make the birds stay longer in my garden or attract more varieties of birds to visit ? Maybe over the next few weeks, I will make some bird boxes with feeders filled with bird seeds. It will be very rewarding, if some days, the birds can fly to my feet or anywhere within very close proximity. Would I be able to communicate with the birds then ? Would I then be able to understand from the birds, the principle of life, where you do not have to worry about tomorrow provisions, and live for today, and one day at a time ?

Little birds, if there is a heaven, and if heaven is full of music, are all those melodious and joyful chirpings you proudly present to me, a sample of what to come ? When my maker take my soul, would I be as free as the birds, gliding in the azure blue skies, visiting beautiful little gardens, smelling the roses, enjoying the fragrant air, and feeling the soft green grass under my sole?

At the end of the day, does it really matter if I fought a good fight ? Does it ? If I can't add more years to my life, how do I move on and make the most out of my life ? Life, at times, are beautiful and splendid, but it can also be full of sufferings. Perhaps, my purpose now is to prepare myself to enter this elusive beautiful garden of my deluded minds. If there is no paradise on earth, maybe there is a garden of God out there where I belong, where there are no more illness, and I would not be lonely again fighting my battles against this dreadful disease.

Well, perhaps a life is like a garden. I am the gardener of my life. It is up to me how I want to cultivate my garden and make my life purposeful, meaningful, and pleasurable............

That's life !

Monday, February 23, 2009


Last week, I donated the followings :

  • Orphanage in Puchong - RM 5,000 plus
  • Scout Movement in Taiping - RM 1,000
  • Swiming Team in Taiping - RM 600
  • lunch for oldfolk home - RM 500 ( during CNY)
Handing over of cheque to representative of the Orphanage

The donations are derived from proceeds of the sales of "Conversations With CK". The Book was priced at RM 40. There are still copies available. To purchase, send an email enquiry to

Friday, February 20, 2009

Coping with the new drugs

After the fifth chemotherapy, where the cancer marker did not drop substantially, the doctor advised me to go on the second line of defense against the Pancreatic cancer. I was put on a 60 days course of orally taken targeted therapy of Tarceva tablets. According to my understanding, Tarceva is relatively a new cancer fighting drugs, and since it is new, it is very Expensive !!! It block tumor cells growth by inhibiting enzyme within the cells associated with the epidermal growth factor receptor. In other words, it specifically go after those hardcore cancer cell, but leave the normal cells intact. It's been 10 days since I started on the Tarceva course in combination with the Germcitabine chemotherapy.

In addition to all those normal side effects of the chemotherapy which I blog about in my previous postings. After the 4th chemo, my hair began to drop, and it dropped at an alarming rate, and by the 5th chemo, I began to notice bald patches on my head. I as real worried, because, I don't think I can get used to become a Botak Head. It would be like a King losing his crown !! A day before the 6th Chemo, I had my little conversations with the Almighty, I pray to him to stop my hair from dropping further, and let me keep my crown. Well, miracle does happened. The next day, I noticed, the are no more hair on the basin when I do my usual morning wash-up. Since then, my hair also begin to grow back. The Almighty does works in a miraculous way. Praise the Lord, and My heartfelt thank to the Almighty for listening to my prayer. Well, to have further miracles, I guess, it is better for me to keep praying to the Almighty to trigger a spontaneous remission of my pancreatic tumors. I hope, the Almighty equip the good doctor with the wisdom, knowledge, medications, and healing hand to achieve this ultimate objective.

Now, coming back to the side effects, I am more or less getting used to managing those side effects which I mentioned earlier in my previous postings. However, the new Tarceva drugs, eventhough, the good doctor claimed that there are no side effects associated with it, but I do encountered some new side effects. On the 6th day onward, I developed rashes in my body, especially the chest area. I encountered severe palpitations and cold sweatings, it is like I am being hit by a heart attack. I also noticed that, my appetite for solid food is getting poorer. I am easily fatigued, sometimes, I just dozed off in the middle of something. In addition, I also developed mouth sore, throat infection, and dry skin especially at the facial area. I hope the next 50 days or so, I would be able to overcome and managed this new side effects to improve the quality of my daily existence.

After more than six month of treatment regime, I am more or less getting used to the pains and discomforts. I am also used to the insensitive remarks being hurl against me, as well as being taken advantage off by over eager alternative treatments peddlers. But on the positive side, I also gain the support from friends and spiritual brothers and sisters, who gave me words of encouragement, and their continued healing prayers. I felt their prayers, and I felt the healing energies surrounding me. I felt good !!!

In my times of difficulties, I am so fortunate to rediscover the goodness of the Almighty. HE is Good, he gave me strength, and he gave me hope. Emotionally and spiritually speaking, the past 6 months has been an amazing journey of self discoveries of embracing hope, dealing with frustrations, and confronting fears and uncertainty. I thank the almighty for giving me this special privilege to experience these many facets of life.

I lost my mother to Cancer 15 years ago. I am not going to lose my life to cancer !! Real man don't cry, and I will fight with all my wills and arsenals to win. Like it or not, although being diagnosed with cancer was a nightmare for me, but I was awaken with incredible fighting spirit. I know, I shall emerge victorious.

That's life.........

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A few years ago, I went back to visit my alma mater in Taiping. Subconsciously, a missing icon triggered my memories of the past. I noticed, the round roof scout den was no longer at the corner of the school field. I enquired and was told that, the structure was infested by termites and was demolished. In their wisdom, the school authority never rebuild the scout den, probably due to lack of funds. I left the school field on that day to carry on with my usual activities of visiting my hometown. I did not realized, a little corner of my heart has been chipped off, and a little memories of the way we were that still remained within me is slowly being erased by the trial of times.

I recalled, during my teenage years, where there were no electronic games and internet, scouting is one of those activities I enjoy most. Most of the happy days I had in those teenage years are, without doubt, involved with scouting activities. Scouting has taught me to become and independent person, capable to appreciate the natural habitat surrounding me, and indoctrinated me with the physical and mental strengths to adapt and survive. I am what I am today, partly, I owed it to scouting activities during my character formation years in Taiping.

This morning, I woke up to the realization that, the missing icon – the scout den, still haunts me. The emptiness of what what used to be something within me is an unexplainable sensations of emotions. As I approach the destination of my sentimental journey, and before my candle is blown off, I realized, perhaps, to ease those haunting emptiness, and to pay back what I reaped in my youth, I must do something to replaced the scout den which was demolished some years back. In another words, I must initiate some actions to rebuild the scout den for the school children. So that at the end of the day, I can ease out in contentment that I did my part to restore what was once there.

There used to be an avenue for me to be there, now that the avenue was no longer there, I must now contribute to rebuild it, and hopefully, those come after me, will continue to defend it, so that others that come later will have an avenue to be there in the future.

I was a Scout, and I was trained to be always ready in mind and body to realize my wish and objective. Okay, for the next few months, I will work towards the objective of making this simple wish of mine a reality. I will, and I know, I can.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Acts 2:38

I received this in my mailbox today :

A woman had just returned to her home from an evening of church services, when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables and yelled: 'Stop! Acts 2:38!'(Repent and be Baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven.)

The burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done.

As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar: 'Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a scripture to you.'

'Scripture?' replied the burglar. 'She said she had an Axe and Two 38s!'

Send this to someone who needs a laugh today and remember: Knowing scripture can save your life - in more ways than one!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Of being open minded…….

Yesterday, my blog's password was breached. I find it amazing that there are actually talented person out there willing to abuse his talents to decode my password and made postings in my blog. Well, whatever it is, I hope the intruder had his fun. So am I, I did enjoy reading his postings. But, to ensure that the party is over, I changed my blog’s password. I have the funny feeling that I know my web log’s intruder. But whatever it is, I am not going to waste my energy to explore this matter further. To the intruder still at large, if you have something against me or felt uneasy with some of my postings, why don’t you try your very best to forgive and forget ? You know, indulging in unhealthy activities is of no good to you, you should try your very best to culture yourself to respect others’ pivate space.

Coming back to my personal health, the previous six month has been a challenging period for me dealing with the management of my treatment regime. A friend of mine suggested I take up Qi Qong ( Chi Dynamic, to be precised) as a form of breathing exercise to improve my chances of recovery. I consulted the good doctor, he encouraged and suggested I should take up Qi Qong, because in his opinion, it will definitely improve my health. So I enrolled in a Qi Qong class. To my surprise, my Christian friends disapproved of my involvement in Qi Qong, trying the level best, either directly or indirectly, to discourage me from further engaging in Qi Qong. To sum it up, their main reason is, Qi Qong is associated with cults and other religions. I was asked to put more faith into Jesus Christ as my healer. Well, maybe I do not know what I am doing, but one thing I do know, some of these Christian friends of mine are basically quite narrow minded. I am really amazed that, without further understanding and knowledge of Qi Qong, these people can be so quick to jump into conclusion that Qi Qong is against Christian values. I bet if they are cancer patients, they wouldn’t be so quick to make this narrow minded conclusion. So, I do have faith in my Almighty as my healer, but I am also well aware that God only help those who help himself. Why some of these people are so narrow minded to question my faith, when I see nothing religious about practicing Qi Qong? Whatever it is, I do strongly believe that, people should not use the name of religion to question my faith and decision to adopt Qi Qong as therapeutic intervention of arresting my deteriorating health. So what next, should I also discard traditionally Chinese medicine because, if you trace back the history, TCM is also related to spirituality ? I guess, the bottom line is, if you are not open minded, religion will always be abused to justify our own intolerances of other people’s actions.

Coming back to my blog, on many occasions, I also received emails from some readers of this blog criticizing me for not publishing their comments relating to some of the postings here. Well, as I explained before, this is a real world. My blog is my private space where I occasionally publish my thoughts, emotions, and sentiments. It is my rights to publish or reject “comments” submitted by the readers. But one thing I want to make it clear is, I had never rejected comments where names and contact details are provided by the “commentators”. So far, I only reject those comments submitted under “Anonymous”. If a person refused to be identified and have no guts to be associated with his own submitted comments, what kind of rights he expect me to accord to him ? You know, for refusing to publish their comments , ome of these Anonymous people accused me of not Open Minded. Maybe I am ! Should I be apologetic to them ? In the first place, is it so difficult for them to be a bit responsible to refrain from hiding behind “Anonymous” to submit comments with opposing views ? I think some of these people who intend to be identified as Anonymous are hypocrites and naively perverted.

By nature, we may deny it, but we are hypocrites. We judged but refuse dto be judged. We are all in practice narrow minded, but we accused others and romanticized Openness, being open minded, and what-nots ! To prevent myself from being drown by all these misplaced values, I shall continue to speak my mind, and I do not need to be right all the times,. I will only embrace others’ opinions and ideas as and when it is necessary. Am I being narrow minded ? Yes, I am. Do you have problem with that ? Go indulge in your own private space and mind your own business ! Or am I being arrogant ?

Believe it or not, we can only rise to the level of our lowest opinions on others. It is good to romanticize open mindedness, but we are only as open minded as our perception on others. The rest, perhaps to live in a more peaceful and happy world, we should leave it to the meeks to inherit the earth……..

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I received this joke in my mailbox today……..

An atheist was walking through the woods.

'What majestic trees!
'What powerful rivers!
'What beautiful animals!
He said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river,he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him..

He looked over his shoulder again, & the bear was even closer.

He tripped & fell on the ground.

He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw & raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant the Atheist cried out,
'Oh my God!'

Time Stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky.

'You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident.' 'Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament?'

Am I to count you as a believer?

The atheist looked directly into the light, 'It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian'?

'Very well,' said the voice.

The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head & spoke:

'Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.'

Friday, February 13, 2009

Conversation with God

O Almighty,
between suffering and despair,
let me not shiver in frustrations,
solitudes, nor deprivations.
Let the night not be a dread.

I walked tall,
I walked with dignity.
But, with this weary body,
I am very tired.
This burden of sickness,
is too heavy for me to bear.
A burden without fruits but sufferings.

How do I cast my burden upon you?
Would you lift me and heal my pains?
Would you walk with me in my time of desperations?
Would you cast me the salts to heal?
Would you show me the light of enlightenments?
Would you leave footprints for me to follow?
Would you?
Would you?
Would you?

I know not what I’ve done?
Did I falter and forget?
With tears in my heart,
I say, do not forsake me again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


In waiting to live,
In waiting to die,
I saw her soul.
She said,
“Son, move on, fight on, and be patient”
“No tears, fight with pride, live with dignity.”

The soul within me,
Do I know me?
To win the battles ahead,
I must travel deep within my soul.
But, when was the last time,
I been to me?

I may frown,
but, I will find my way,
breaking through life’s cobweb,
in these perpetual summer air.

In the valley of death,
The sky is
always darker than the blood.
So be it.
I will move on,
Fear has no place in my life,
and I will fight on
to dignify my existence….

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Round Seven: The fight continues…..

Finally, after one week of delay, the Sixth chemotherapy was administered yesterday. The doctor has also prescribed a new oral chemo drug, Tarceva, to go with the current gemcitabine chemo drug. The additional chore I need to undertake is, to take the oral chemo drug everyday until my next treatment next month.

Since Tarceva needs to work with conjunction with the Gemcitabine drug, the doctor has advised me to go for an additional round of Chemotherapy next month. Ah… not again!!! I am beginning to get very frustrated with all these never ending affair of pumping my body with all those poison.

The progress report for the first 6th months of Cancer treatment is as follows :

  • A 19 days B17 alternative treatment protocol – Failed
  • Chemotherapies using concortion of gemcitabine, 5FU, frolic acid, etc.. The doctor said, the cancer is now under control. Well, there is still HOPE!!!
  • New regime of Gemcitabine and Tarceva ( yesterday and next month ) – I hope it can finish off all those mutant cells and tumor.

The ironic thing is, when I first started this chemotherapy session about six months ago, my initial reaction is FEAR! I feared the unknowns, the side effects, and the possibilities of treatment failures. But, as I progressed along the road to recovery, fear has become a normal and manageable part of this logical mind. What irritate me is, the frustrations to deal with negative results that are not to my expectations are slowly consuming my reasonable judgment. Slowly, I am becoming more impatient and moody. Like I said before in some of my previous postings, the mind is a very dangerous playground. So, by hook or by crook, I got to find someway to ease that negative emotionality and infused my mind with some positive energy.

I thank the Almighty for blessing me with the strength to overcome fear in dealing with day to day uncertainty. Most important of all, in going through this experience of managing the treatment regime, the Almighty has also blessed me with the power, love, and a logical mind to forgive, to love, and be loved. Overall, despite some minor setbacks, I would like to think of the previous six months as journey of enlightenment. It is indeed an amazing journey for this self proclaimed Oxymoron.

On the spiritual side, my wife said I must now have stronger faith in the Almighty, for HE is my Jehovah-Rapha, my healer. So, “Heal me, O Lord and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for thou art my praise” - Jeremiah 17:14

Praise the Lord.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Round Seven :Here comes the magic bullet…

I was at the Tung Shin hospital again on Feb 5th 2009 to received my scheduled Computer Tomography scan, or commonly known as CT scan. CT scan is a simple procedure, where prior to the actual “scan”, I was asked to drink 4 glasses of “Contrast Liquid”, and intravenously injected with a special kind of Dye through my blood vessels. The scan enables the X-ray technician to take various photographic shots of my internal organs. The good doctor needs these photographic images to compare the physical size of my tumor, and as well as to detect whether there are any new tumors spreading to other organs.

I went into the scanning room at 10:30am, the scan was completed around 11:30AM, and I was asked to go back to my hospital room to rest and wait for the reports from the technicians. I waited anxiously for the report, and finally, the report came out at around 3:30 PM. Approximately more than 4 hours for a simple report. I do wonder why the hospital is inefficient in preparing the report. Well, what else can I say, sometimes, it is the people behind the hardware that make the difference between caring and lousy services.

To cut the story short, it was an agonizing waiting period for the report. Despite my calmness, I do worry that the report may be negative indicating that the cancer has spreaded to other body organs, or the tumor at the pancreas has grown in size.

With the report, the Oncologist attending my treatment regime gave me his professional assessment of my progress. He indicated to me the good news that, although the cancer marker has only dropped slightly compared to the initial figures, but the cancer has not spread, it is still isolated to the pancreas only, and the tumor is still maintain at the same size. So, overall, the cancer is under control with all my other health indicator at healthy levels. The important thing is, I still looked healthier than a lot of “healthy” people.

The Oncologist has suggested I proceed with my 6th chemotherapy session next week, and as well as trying out the orally taken special “magic bullets” to try to shoot down the cancer marker. The special magic bullet is Tarciva”, a new target specific oral drug recently developed to treat Pancreatic and Liver cancer. The only drawback is, this new drug is very expensive, it cost around RM 9K for a treatment! So, my monthly treatment costs now jumps from RM 5K plus to RM 14K plus!!!! It is an expensive affair to stay alive!!!! The Almighty indeed has a very funny sense of humor! Anyway, I gave my consent to the Oncologist to order the Tarciva for next week treatment, and I will leave it to the Almighty to provide me with the additional source of income to finance my treatment regime.

Don’t underestimate this old tiger! I did not start this fight, but since it has been initiated against me, I will fight a good fight, and I will not throw in my towel! My fighting spirit is still very strong…… Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Living with Cancer

This article, "Living with cancer", was published in the February issue of SJECHO. SJECHO is a community newspaper is Subang Jaya.

This year's Chinese New Year falls on January 26th 2009. Traditionally, I celebrate Chinese New Year in Taiping. After both my parents passed away in 1994, I celebrate the festive occasion in Ipoh, my wife's home town. For this year, I had decided to celebrate Chinese New Year in Subang Jaya. So officially, 2009 marks the beginning Subang Jaya as the “Balik Kampung” home town. So, in future, no matter where my children are, every festive season, they will have to come back to celebrate Chinese New Year in Subang Jaya.

The main reason for deciding to celebrate Chinese New Year in Subang Jaya is because, I am diagnosed with Cancer in 2008 and is still under chemotherapy treatment. In order not to stress myself out with all those travelings and getting caught in the Balik Kampung's traffic jams, the most practical and healthy thing to do is to stay put in where I am now. I do hope, other than the change in geographic location, the spirits of the Chinese New Year will remain the same for me and my family members.

Now, talking about cancer, I had never thought of the possibility of being inflicted with this unwelcome sickness. But the sad fact is, cancer does not discriminate, it hit me in 2008, and it hit me hard. The question now is, how am I going to deal with it ?

The word, CANCER, is such a Negative and Scary word. Through out the previous few months, friends and relatives who visited me, are always trying to be socially 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 used to all the socially acceptable 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 concerned, I am no longer obsessed with the longevity 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 am about to complete my scheduled rounds of chemotherapies. So far, I did not encountered major problems during and after the chemotherapy sessions. Since chemotherapy is basically a process of pumping a cocktail of poison into the body to kill all the bad and good cells, naturally, there are some side effects such as sore throat, mouth ulcers, tingling sensations and numbness in arm, loss of appetite, chest pains, hair loss, etc. But what choice do I have, chemotherapy is part of the necessary medical evils for the recovery of my health. I just need to be more discipline, careful, and determined in managing these side effects to ensure the quality of my existence is not eroded.

Honestly, I do hope the whole chemotherapy regime worked, where the tumor can be substantially reduced in sized, and the reading for cancer marker dropped to normal range. I do want to remove the fear factor from my daily life, and I do want my life to be back to normal. I do want to have the privilege of going back to work, enjoy quality times with my family members, and not be a burden to my wife and children. I really do not want to see my wife and children suffered from my occasional mood swings and their tiring efforts of providing care to me.

There are nights where I was troubled by pains and where sleep won't come. No matter how positive and forward looking, I do occasionally stayed awake thinking and fearing about death, about my unfulfilled responsibilities to my wife and children, and how am I going to say goodbyes to my loved one. I do find myself in a difficult position, where the fear of unknown consumed my reasonable judgment. I think, only God understand my predicament. I really do not want to die young and I do not want to lapse into sufferings of pains. I want to try everything to overcome and recover my health. I do not want to live in false hope. I want to beat those nasty mutant cells in my body, and I want to be a survivor.

I did mentioned in my blog ( 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 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 eventually make a way for me in the right direction to attain spiritual enlightenment to overcome my emotional fears and physical pains.

I know, ultimately, the game of life is such, at the end of the game, nobody emerged alive. But I am not in this journey to avoid death, I am now being drafted in this long road ahead for me to win this battle against Cancer. The Almighty always has its sense of humor in illustrating the fragility of life.

Well, I could run away from the physical beings such as a robber or murderers. I could also run away from fatal mishaps or accidents by being more careful. But if the enemy is within you, something that grows from within you, something that instigate your cells to mutate to slowly steal the sands from your hourglass, how do you fight the odds ? Will I be lucky again this time around ? I don't know. I leave it to fate and the Almighty to decide my expiry date. If I overstayed my welcome in this humanistic journey, by all means, let the phrase ring out loud and clear - "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.". I have lived a meaningful life, and I shall have no regret to return to the garden of the Almighty.

Come to think of it, if death is not part of human journey, would we still treat life as precious and valuable ? Would we become the lower species in the animal kingdom where our daily existence is to kill and be kill in our continue saga of survival ? But we are human being. We are, as usual, naively optimistic in our quest to understand the physic of immortality and the geometry of eternity to justify our stupidity in our never ending quest to glorify our existence. Maybe we should go back to basic to live a simpler life and have more faith in the Almighty. Perhaps then, our life will be happier and more meaningful.

While we accept the fact that life is journey where death is a certainty. But, it is the uncertainty of the hour and day of death that frighten and torment us. The mind is a dangerous playground ! Sometimes, I do wonder and do my wanderings in this playground juggling my hopes, despairs, and fears to make sense of my being. Well, what else can I say ? I am, after all, a deluded soul still indulging in mental masturbation to seek enlightenment and a purpose in life.

Now, back to reality again, the other day, I was asked by a visitor with questions like “Are you dying of cancer ?”, “How much time are you left with ? “, “How is your preparation to meet with your maker “”, etc., etc., etc..... I am so used to people saying inappropriate things to cancer patients like me because they want to look and sound normal when dealing with such taboo illness such as cancer. Honestly, I do not felt uncomfortable at all with these type of questions, because I am more than normal compared to all those normal person out there.

For a start, why do we always associate cancer with death and sufferings ? Without wanting to disappoint all those pessimists, I am not dying of cancer, but living with cancer. I am not really worry about how much time I am left with, but rather, I am working on how to begin my life with new approach, and enjoy whatever time I am given with. Am I ready to meet my maker ? I know, death does not go away by denying the eventuality, but why do I have to worry about it now ? I will live life one day at a time, and sing praise of the Almighty's love every morning. When it comes to death, nothing really make sense, so why bother with the timing of death now ?

The funny thing about being inflicted with cancer is, because the word, CANCER, is such a scary word. It automatically put you into psychological gear of changes in life. Your life will never be the same again, and you are automatically geared into defensive to attempt to drive your life back into normal again. You began to realize the beauty of an ordinary day you used to grumbled about, and like it or not, you tend to miss everything that you considered normal in the past.

They said, when you are stricken with chronic disease, your life changed. Period. Well, is it an overstatement, or is it an understatement ? You can take it standing up, or sitting down. But look at the humanistic side, how many people can actually accept the news that they are inflicted with terminal illness with positivity ? I do not know about others, but my life did indeed changed ! Whether it changed for the better or worst, the only thing I can say now is, “stay tune....”.

I realized, the physical tumor is real and it is still there, but it doesn't really bother me anymore. I leave this medical problem to the good doctor to worry, I will move on with life, live life as it should be. I don't really know, whether I am now a survivor of cancer, or a cancer patient on the road to recovery. But one thing I do know, the Almighty has given me unparalleled inner strength to deal and cope with the challenges ahead. What ever it is, by faith, the Almighty is my healer, I leave it to the Almighty to decide my fate.

The thing about chronic disease such as cancer is, I had learned, it does not matter how you got it or why you got it. Since you are inflicted with it, you need to accept the fact that you are now one of the statistical figure in the shrine of cancer, you just need to summon whatever strength you have to manage it to ensure that you live a quality life and you are not a burden to others. You know, sometimes, watching my wife provide care to me is by itself a heart wrenching exercise. As a man, you are there to provide selfless comforts to the family, but now end up at the receiving end. There are also nights where pains and fears kept you awake and put you through agonizing hours of trying to sleep, but I also learned, there is this wonderful drug called Arcotia to put you back to your attempt to achieve nirvana of sleep. So, when dealing with cancer, it is all about the management aspects of it, and it is really a subject of mind over matter, if you don't mind, it doesn't really matter. With or without cancer, life does go on...... Honestly, I do realize now, life is really worth living, the future is worth facing, and as a cancer warrior, I shall fight till my last breath........

I know, it is a lonely and challenging road ahead, and there are no foot prints to guide me in my attempt to recover my health. But I am born with a will to survive, I shall fight my fight in that invincible war zone. It is between me and those parasitic mutant cells. My mask is now on, I am now the invincible cancer warrior hunting for those cancerous cells, to search and destroy, and to emerge victorious. .

I have learned to look at fear in the face, and along the road to recovery, I have gained courages and experiences to deal with the uncertainty of life. The whole process of living with cancer is itself a journey of enlightenment! As a cancer patient, I have an obligation to live my life to the fullest, and to fight the menace with all my spiritual and medical arsenal. I also have an obligation to be truthful to myself, live life as it is, and be an inspiration to others to overcome their predicaments. Well, whatever you are doing out there, let take a pause, and smell the roses.... It is a wonderful world out there !

Happy Chinese New Year & Gong Hei Fatt Choy. C'est LaVie !!!!

PS :
I have recently written a book, titled “Conversations With CK – A Man, his Life, and Cancer”. The book is priced at RM 40. You can order the book by sending an email to

Round 7 : It's a number game.....

After the long Chinese New Year celebration, it's time to check into the hospital again for my scheduled cancer treatments.

As usual, the first order of the day is to submit myself to the blood laboratory to do the blood test. My blood pressure is at 120/80, weight stabilized at 80kg, and with the exception of cancer marker, all the indicators of the blood test are within normal ranges. What worries the doctor is, the cancer market suddenly shot up. The doctor decided to postpone the chemotherapy session, and advised me to go for a Computer Tomography scan of the abdominal area. The objective is to assess and compare the physical size of the tumor and to make better informed decision on next course of action. So, here I go again, admitted to the ward for further test. But I hate the smell and surrounding hospital. Hospital is only for sick people, and I am not a sick person. So, I asked for a home stay leave, and promised to checked back in to the ward first thing in the morning to carry on with the tests prescribed by the doctor.

Looking back, it had been more than half a year I am subjecting myself through all these cancer treatments and hospital visits. What else can I say ? It been really a very frustrating experiences for me all these while. I guess these events are parts and parcels of the long and winding road to the recovery of my health. I presumed this is the extraordinary path I must traverse to gain extraordinary wisdom of life. The guy up there did indeed have a funny and perverted sense of sadism in testing my perseverance and character. Perhaps, to acquire the privilege of hope, I do need to pass these perseverance and character test with flying colour first ! Well, whatever it is, I surrender myself to authority of the almighty. Whatever will be, will be...... But in the mean time, I pray to the almighty to at least strengthen my feeble knees ! Honestly, I am beginning to be very tired, and only God knows how long more I need to walk on these long solitary road before I call it a day....

Honestly, my body has been subjected to a lot of chemical and poison in the name of treatments. If this body is a holy temple where the almighty dwells, then I guess it is about time I command all these agents of mischiefs and sicknesses out from my body, and it is also about time the almighty cleanse this temple now !

“Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? “ Matthew 6 -26/27

I can go on worrying unnecessary about the tomorrow's and future's outcome, and I don't think indulging in worries is going to help me in anyway in my future outlook. I will take the cue and promises from the good Lord to take or live one day at a time. I will enjoy my today's provisions granted by the good Lord, and let tomorrow not be in my mental vocabulary for the time being ! Mighty Lord, today, I am claiming this entitlements from you. Let me have peace of mind today, and let tomorrow take care of itself.......

As I was flipping through my old notes, I came across this poem from my college days. This simple poem inspired me to complete my 4 years undergraduate studies within 2 years with double majors ! Perhaps the almighty is trying to rekindle my fighting spirit, or perhaps he is testing me again. ( Hey, how many time must I be tested ? ) Whatever it is, I am reproducing this poem here to drum up my motivation and fighting spirit again to win this battle aganst cancer :


If you think you’re beaten, you are;
If you think that you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It’s almost a certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost,
For out in the world you find,
Success begins with a person’s will,
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or later the man who wins
Is the fellow who thinks he can.

Well, can I win this battle against cancer ? I THINK I CAN !!!!! But I also need a little bit of prayers from all of you out there..............