Sunday, June 28, 2009

1Malaysia ?

Can you guess who are these politicians and which political party they belonged to ?

She reminds me of the wife of .......Murugih, why you do all those nonsense to me ?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bits & Bytes.....

I went for my 8th 3DCRT session today. So, with 8 down, I still have at least 23 more sessions to go. These sessions will keep me occupied until end of July 2009. My friend, Suet Fun, met me and my wife at the Radiotherapy centre of the hospital. After my RT, we went to an Indian Restaurant at Jalan Gasing for some light snacks. Surprisingly, my appetite for foods is good today, I managed to finished 3 quarters piece of Roti telur, few pieces of spicy curry chicken, and a small cup of Teh Halia. If I can maintain my current improvement of appetite, I should be able to arrest my declining weight. I am now weighing at around 65KG. Compared to my 102 Kg a year ago, I am now not half the man I used to be !!!!!

The 3DCRT session usually last less than 15 minutes a day, and compared to intravenous chemotherapy, it is much more “comfortable” to deal with. However, 3DCRT in combination with oral chemo drugs also comes with its documented sides effects. I had been told to expect softness and sore in foot and palm, mouth ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, etc. But so far, after 8 sessions of treatment, I only encountered constipation issues and nausea. Yesterday, I encountered some minor nose bleeding, but I was told not to be overly alarmed by this side effects. I guess, after almost a years of dealing with so many treatment protocols and drugs, I am more or less getting used to expecting the unexpected.

I also realized, I am beginning to lose some minor motor control of my physical body. Last Sunday, while walking with my son at a park in Shah Alam, I fell down twice because, for no apparent reasons, my left leg just went limped and encountered momentary lost of sensations. There are also quite a numbers of recent occasions where I had problem to lift my left leg momentarily. I seriously do not think this is a side effect of the 3DCRT or oral chemo drugs. Most probably it is caused by malnutrition of proteins and wastage of muscle tissues. I just need to make sure I put in more proteins into my system, and exercise my leg to built back the needed muscle tissues.

As part of the assessment of my new treatment;s progress, I took my blood test on Friday, and the result which was released on Monday, was not encouraging at all, my CA 19.9 market shot up substantially. Probably in the past, the Taceva did managed to control the cancer cells but was not able to trigger remission. Perhaps, while I am implementing new treatment strategy to eliminate the cancer cells, those nasty mutants also quietly launched a counter attack against me. I suspect, the new treatment protocol of 3DCRT in combination with Xeloda was not able to achieve the desired result yet. The good doctor told me not to overly anxious about the latest test result, but to continue with the new treatment strategy and to wait out for the next 2 to 3 test results.

On Monday, after my usual 3dCrT session, I came home a bit tired and proceeded to take rest in my room. I fell asleep soon, but suddenly realized I had problem breathing ! In my semi conscious dreamy state, I saw a young handsome boy resembling me stomping his foot on my face. I struggled to freed myself from the situation and woke up from my short sleep. My first realization is, was this boy my son ? Many years ago, I made a decision to medically terminate the life of my 2nd unborn child. That cold clinical decision was not an easy decision, but nevertheless, I made that decision. I though, after so many years, I had let go, but it doesn't seemed to be. That decision I made, keep coming back to haunt me in many emotional and irrational manifestations. Sometimes, I do wish I can turn back the clock, see things differently, and perhaps, with different outcomes.

Being inflicted with this dreaded illness also made me realized how lucky I am. I am blessed with so many beautiful people in my times of difficulties. I have a very supportive spouse who is willing to accommodate my needs at all times. I also realized, my children have suddenly grown up trying their level best to show their appreciations and to be supportive of me. I am also blessed with so many good friends and relatives who constantly gave me words of encouragements, assistances, and moral support to help me fight on.

I have a good family and good friends. Well, life is beautiful ! But I do missed my cup of hot aromatic black coffee..................

Friday, June 19, 2009

I completed the first week of 3DCRT session …

I completed one week of 3DCRT today, the next session begins on next Monday. So, I have at least another 5 weeks of 3DCRT to go.

Come to think of it, 3DCRT is not that awful compared to intravenous drip of chemotherapy where you physically have to endure 2 to 3 hours of slow “dripping” process of chemo drugs into your body. The only inconvenience is, I have to go to the hospital everyday to receive my radiation treatment. In addition, 3DCRT also comes with some side effects. My first week encounter is, after the radiation session, I felt nauseated and vomited a few times. I hope the effects will tapper off from the second weeks onwards.

As advised by the Oncologist, I was prescribed with Xeloda ( Capecitabine ) to go with the radiation therapy. However, due to my taller than average height, my body body surface is bigger, so I was prescribed with a dosage 3 times higher than normal patient. Naturally, the medication costs 3 times more expensive. So, tall people may look more handsome and appealing, but when come to medical care, you are at a disadvantage in terms of treatment costs !!!!!

With Xeloda, I have to take 1500mg per 12 hours basis. The medication comes with its whole list of documented side effects. The most common side effects associated with the consumption of Xeloda are Sore palm, sore foot, ulcer in the mouth, diarrhea, etc. In anticipation of these side effects, the Oncologist also prescribed a another arsenal of medications to be taken daily to counter the side effects. Hmmm.... sometimes, modern medicines can be a real pain. But whatever it is, I hope, as I progress during the treatment period, I would not be over preoccupy with these side effects.

A young lady from Hospice Malaysia visited me yesterday and today to provide me with counseling on pains management and symptom management. One thing surprised me is, the young lady is so well versed with her area of expertise and serve with so much enthusiasm and empathy as compared to our over glorified private hospital. Hospis Malaysia provide me with free medication for symptom and pains such as liquid morphine. They also provide me with Sheepskin to make me comfortable when I lie on hard surface. All these items are provided free of charge. Well, in the midst of commercialism and profit orientation of medical care, at least there are still some NGO's out there who care for the well being of average Malaysians. Mind you, these people really serve with big smile, enthusiasm, dedication, and empathy !

For the next 5 weeks of so, I will have to go through pretty much the same treatment routine. I don't really look forward to, but, I will get around, and hopefully complete the whole treatment protocol with positive results......

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The 3DCRT session begins....

I attended my “CT Planning” for 3DCRT on Friday, done my first session of radiiation therapy on Monday, and today is my 2nd session of Radiation Therapy. And, there 29 more sessions to go spreading over the next One and a half month !!

The doctor has also prescribed daily intake of 3000mg of Xeloda ( capecitabine) and 15 tablets of Vitamin B6 to go together with the 3DCRT. In additions, there are also some medications to counter side effects.

I was a bit apprehensive about the whole 3DCRT treatment in the beginning, because I do not know what to expect. But Monday session was not so bad, no pain and no discomfort. All I have to do is to make sure I minimized body movement on the table, and let the machine revolves around my body to aim at the preconfigured area. The session lasted slightly less than 15 minutes and I was allow to go home with no discomforts. However, I do felt very tired throughout the day. Compared with the Chemotherapy I had previously, 3DCRT is so much more “comfortable”

Today's 3DCRT is the same compared to yesterday's session. It lasted less than 15 minutes. However, After I got home, In addition to the feeling of tiredness, I felt dizzy ( probably due to the haze), and I also vomited twice.

I do not know whether the vomiting is caused by the side effect of Xeloda or 3DCRT, I will check with the doctor tomorrow when I go for my 3rd session of 3DCRT. I don't feel good at all today with all these vomity feelings. But my main concern for the time being is to resolve my weight lost and constipations issues.

Well, 2 sessions down, and 29 more sessions to go..... I do hope, this new treatment protocol of 3DCRT in combination with Xeloda oral chemo can produce the desired results for the recovery of my health.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shooting Birds...............

At the Kuala Lumpur Lake Garden's Bird Park.....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life Ain't Rosy ?

My name is Saw Kow
have a house in TAIPING TOWN.
Finished my secondary education
in a school started by ANG MOH KOW.

Obtained a Grade One in MCE
But as a minority, LIFE is not ROSY
My Grade One is not good enough
compared to Grade Three of a BUMI.
So, no Form Six for me !

But I am very LUCKY
"You go Canada to STUDY"
That what my DADDY told me.
After three years of undergraduate STUDIES
I came back with a DEGREE and my HONEY

Life ahead is very ROSY ?
After one year working for some lousy MONEY
Daddy found out I already have a STEADY
Everyday he asked me to MARRY
Or else he won't talk to ME
No choice, but to propose to my HONEY

Yeh, Life ain't ROSY !
The Marriage ceremony depleted all MY MONEY.
To survive, everyday I eat CHAPFUN or CHAPATY.
For entertainment, everyday I watch TV or pirated VCD.
While other drive Mercedes, I drove a 3rd hand Datsun SUNNY
Married life ain't that ROSY
In less than 12 months I have a BABY
Suddenly I became a DADDY.

Yeh, Life Ain't ROSY !
After many years of working for lousy CRONIES
When I worked HARD, he said it is my DUTY
When I submit MC, he said I am LAZY
Paying me peanut
and yet expect me not to behave like MONKEY
When I am short of MONEY,
he asked me to "Chiak Kar Key"
I almost gone CRAZY.

Yeh, Life ain't ROSY !
Now, I have to support my HONEY
and I have to feed my BABY
Have to pay installments for my old Datsun Sunny
Every week have to buy Dutch Baby
Everyday my petrol tank is EMPTY
Go to work JALAN KAKI
ATM told me my account got no MONEY

Yeh, Life ain't ROSY
Seek HELP from government,
but they said I ain't BUMI.
Seek HELP from MCA,
but was told Life ain't CHARITY
and I am not their LIABILITY.
Sometimes, I really want to CARI MATI
But who is gonna feed my HONEY and BABY
Susah nak HIDUP, susah nak MATI.

Yeh, Life ain't ROSY !
Nevermind, every dog has his DAY.
Now, I made my own MONEY.
Life has become a bit ROSY.
Sipping my favorite Coffee in LUXURY,
Should I show SYMPATHY
to those who rejected ME ?

Yeh, Life ain't ROSY ?
Believe me, when you are in troubles,
the rest will conveniently
suffered from Avian's Flu.
They are all quite capable
of talking cock's languages to you !

Yeh, Life ain't Rosy ?
But who say Life is EASY ?
When the going gets tough,
the tough gets going.
Go hit the road
and make your OWN MONEY...........

On the road again.....

Finally, I had a good night sleep yesterday. It's been a while I never had such luxury of uninterrupted sleep for such a long time. I think, the pain killer, OxyContin, prescribed by the good doctor did the wonder for me yesterday evening.

I woke up this morning feeling very refresh and in good mood. My appetite for breakfast was also extremely good. I managed to finished one big bowl of Pan Mee !! Hmmmm... yummy, yummy....

After the breakfast, I seek my wife's assistance to arrange the 3D Conformal Radiation Therapy treatment sessions for me with the hospital. Tomorrow, I will have to check into the hospital to do the “CT Planning” for the 3DCRT. Tomorrow session, if I understand it correctly, is for the doctor and lab technicians to do mapping of treatment area ( tumor and its vicinity) using the CT scan result which was done 2 days ago.

After the mapping, my first 3DCRT session will start on Monday. All together, there will be a minimum of 31 sessions of 3DCRT on daily basis except Saturday & Sunday. During the treatment period, I will have to take on twice a day basis oral chemo tablet of Capecitabine ( Xeloda ) to complement the radiation therapies. I was told, the Xeloda will act as radiosensitizer to make the 3DCRT more effective. I do hope these sessions of 3DCRT can help to target correct dosages of radiation precisely into the tumor to trigger remission, and thereby improve my chances of recovery.

It has been a long and winding road for the previous 10 months in my quest to restore my health. Honestly, it has been also a very frustrating experience for me dealing with previous failed attempts and the emotional ups and downs of trying to stay positive and maintain my sanity over the whole process. I have nothing else to lose to chart into this unknown territory of radiation therapy. I am confident, I can overcome this illness and restore my health in due course. I will do whatever that are necessary and within my control, the rest, I leave it to the Almighty to guide the good doctor and his medical team to perform healing miracles on me.

Well, I am on the road again to fight for my survival.............. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” ( Psalm 23:4) Praise the Lord.

Changing strategy.....

I got my CT scan and blood analysis result today. Well, after more than 10 months of alternative treatment, intravenous chemotherapy, and targeted drugs, the tumor is still there and still maintained at about the same size. Although the treatments did not managed to shrink the tumor, but thanks God, at least I am lucky the tumor is still localized, not metastasized, and had not spread to other organs. On the positive side, at least the chemotherapy and targeted drugs managed to control the tumor growth. Praise the Lord.

However, fighting cancer is not about falling back into the comfort zone to maintain status quo. I need to change my treatment strategy to overcome the cancer cells.

I am having a localized advance tumor at my pancreas, to move beyond controlling the growth of the tumor, I need to look into the possibility of targeted localized treatment with minimum damages to other vital organs. For the time being, 3D Conformal Radiotherapy together with oral chemo seemed to be my best practical option. With 3D conformal radiotherapy, the tumor is mapped in 3 dimension, and multiple radiation beams are then precisely aimed at the mapped tumor, minimizing the damages to other normal tissues.

I was told that the hospital need to feed the images from the CT Scan result into the computer to created a 3 dimensional view of the targeted treatment areas. The computer then design multiple high dosage of radiation beams into an area precisely conforming to the size of the tumor and its vicinity. The hospital will need to have approximately 2 to 3 days to plan the treatment before the first radiotherapy session can be delivered. After that, I will have to go to the hospital on almost daily basis for a minimum of 35 sessions.

My next action is now to source for a hospital that have 3D Conformal Radiotherapy facility or Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy facility. At the moment, University Hospital, Pantai Medical Centre, Subang Jaya Medical Centre, and Nilai's National Cancer Institute have these facilities. Over the next two days, I will have to decide which hospital I want to use to implement this new strategy.

I hope the good Lord will help me make a wise decision on which hospital to use.

So, it looks like over the next one and a half month I will be stationing myself in the battleship again to engage the cancer cells in the battleground again. This time, I will take no prisoner..... So, you nasty mutant cells, you are on the wrong side of my book, your days are numbered.......

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Of religions.....

A casual friend of mine asked me the other day that whether I am a Buddhist or a Christian. Well, it is a profound question. I was born in a Taoist family, but was registered as a Buddhist. In fact, during those days in the 60's, most Malaysians of Chinese origin were registered as Buddhists because our parents are not that really educated and there were communication problems between the parents and the birth registration clerks. And in most cases, most Malaysian Chinese are not really that particular of the registration status of religion. So, here you go, I was an accidental Buddhist by registration.

During my childhood years, my family practiced Taoism. In fact, most of my family members still practiced Taoism. I started reading the Bible in 1993 and later in 2006, I also begin to read Buddhism texts. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, I picked up the Bible again....

So am I a Taoist, Buddhist, or Christian ?

Frankly, throughout my adult years, religion was never an issue to me and I always treat it as a private matter. In my public dealing with friends and relatives, I attempt to keep my pubic life as secular as possible. One thing I do do know, when I was inflicted with chronic illness, I became more religious and tried to find a balance in my life to seek self healing. I turned to the Bible and tried to comprehend the words of God. Until today, as much as I want to adopt the words of God religiously, but I also realized, Buddhism's values has been deeply ingrained in my daily life. It is like my root and culture.

So, when I announced to my friends that I am a Buddhist Christian, my Christian friends stared at me with disbelieve and tried their level best to salvage this lost soul. But the surprising thing is, my Buddhist friends accepted me as what I am. They left me be and let me find my own path to seek my own enlightenment.

To me, Buddhism is a way of life, and the truth of being. And, Christianity is about the embracement of the Almighty God with Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior. Christianity gave me hope, but Buddhism gave me peace of mind. Of course, there are always differences in values and practices between Buddhism and Christianity, but my purpose in this life is not to thrive on the differences. My purpose is to walk the middle path, and to seek and embrace the commonalities between these two great religions.

As a Christian, I am still a God fearing person and I recite the Lord's Prayer on daily basis. As a Buddhist, I am still subscribing to the Four Noble Truths, The Eight Folds Path, and the Mediation aspects in my daily life.

Between Hope and Peace of mind, I walk the middle path, and had chosen to embrace both. So, I am a Buddhist Christian.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The “I DON'T KNOW” hospital.

Since I came back from Aenon Health Farm, my physical condition has deteriorated. Perhaps, the drastic change in diet has caused my body to react negatively – my lack of appetite for foods got worst, my cancer marker shot up tremendously, the intensity of pain and discomforts ballooned to unbearable level, and worst of all, I am beginning to lose weight again ! Well, sticking to strict vegetarian diet sound very fashionable, but my body just couldn't take it, before I allowed myself to be incapacitated with malnutrition, I think it is best I revert back to my normal diet.

I was due for medical check up at Tung Shing yesterday, at my wife insistent, I went to the Pantai Medical Centre instead of Tung Shing. My wife's contention was that, the equipments and facilities at Tung Shing are outdated, and the hospital may not be in a position to provide the best treatment options. To cut the story short, I went to Pantai Medical Centre yesterday, my first impression was, everything was new there, the air conditioning system was eerie cold, and the hospital even have Starbuck Coffee outlet at the lobby.

The Good doctor suggested that I be admitted to run tests for re-assessment of my condition. The first day, the usual vital tests were conducted. On the morning of the second day, a CT scan was performed on me. The CT scan took less than 10 minutes, and at 9;30AM I was told to go back to the room to wait for my scan result.

I asked the reception counter how long it will take for the scan result to be out, but was told the standard reply of “ I don't Know” and “Please go back to your room and wait”. I waited until 12:30PM and I asked the ward nurse whether the scan and blood test result is out , and when I can expect to obtain the result, again, I was given the standard reply of “I don't know” and “Please go back to back to your room and wait”. So I went down to the Imaging Department to enquire, thinking that perhaps I can get an estimation of the time needed to obtain the result from the source. Again, the counter staff told me “ I don't know” and “ Go back to your room to wait”.

Patiently, I waited until almost 5:00PM, I went to Imaging Department again to enquire about the result, again, the standard reply of “I don't know” was given to me. Hmmm, I do wonder the competency of the personnel and Pantai Medical Centre. The hospital may have the best hardware, but the people who manned the hardware and provide support service seemed ill trained and are at a loss of providing competent healthcare services. The personnel even suggested that I stay back in the hospital one more day to wait for the Ct scan result. My God, the last time I did my CT scan at Sunway Medical Centre, it took only less than two hours to obtain the result, and at Tung Shine, it took less than 3 hours to obtain the scan result. But at Pantai Medical Centre, I did my CT scan at around 9:00AM in the morning, when I checked out at around 5:00PM, the scan result is still not out yet, and I DON'T KNOW whether they can get it out tomorrow. It look like I have to go back to the hospital again tomorrow to obtain the scan result.

I really don't feel comfortable at the way medical care and support services are being provided by Pantai Medical Centre, and I sincerely doubt the support personnel there are trained to provided adequate competence services. Well, their hardware look impressive and maybe the most up-to-date. But a simple CT scan result takes more than a day to be produce ? Am I in a under developed country in Africa ? I guess it would be wiser for me not to bet my life at Pantai Medical Centre. What I will do tomorrow is, I will go to the hospital to insist on my blood test and CT scan result, and go back to Tung Shine hospital to continue my treatment there. Well, Tung Shing may or may not have the best medical equipments, but, at least, their support personnel are more caring and knowledgeable in providing medical care and support services.

The doctor's assistant called me up in the evening to ask whether I will come back tomorrow for consultation, I was just too tired and replied “I DON”T KNOW”.......

Monday, June 08, 2009

Shooting butterflies............

Got a bit bord recently, went to the Butterfly farm and managed to "shoot" some real butterflies........., not those from China !

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The side effects again......

I have not been updating my journal on a regular basis. I do realized, I been getting easily tired nowadays, probably due to the side effects of the targeted drugs, and mentally, I am also getting very exhausted dealing with the surprises that had been inflicted on my physical body. My God, cancer is indeed such a horrible illness, no matter how positive and determined you are, one way or another, it will find a way to demoralized you emotionally and physically when you least expect it.

Since starting on the targeted dug, I developed rashes all over my body and facial areas, and my skin also looked darker due to pigmentation. As I progressed along the fourth month of this oral drug therapy, the intensity of the rashes are beginning to tapper off. However, With one side effect subsided, another few side effects also began to manifest their dreadedness. For the past one month or so, my appetites for foods was getting from bad to worst, and also having to deal with the too frequent constipation issues. Due to lack of desires for foods, I am beginning to lose weight again. I can sense that my body is getting weaker and getting tired easily, probably due to lack of proper nutrition. I do hope I can solve these new side effects sooner.

Pains and discomforts had and always been the biggest challenge since I was diagnosed with cancer. I do realized, for the past three weeks, the intensity of pains and discomforts are getting unbearable. So much so that, I think it affects my mental alertness and logical thinking. So far, the prescribed pain killer does help to reduce the intensity of the pains. The portable Infra Red light device also comes handy in soothing the muscle and nerve discomforts. I do hope my condition is not degrading towards the worst. I have cut down my morning exercise, because increasingly, it is getting a bit difficult for me due my weakened physical body. Well, I got to keep telling myself to stay strong, control my frustration, and stay positive to find a way to minimized the pains and discomforts.

Honestly, I think I am getting a little bit fed up of all these inconveniences caused by these unbearable pains and discomforts. I wished I can just shout out to my family members that I am in great pains and all of them rush to my attention. But would that help to reduce my pains ? I am not a parasite that depend on others for my well being. I got myself into this medical mess, it is now up to me to find a way to heal myself. I got to fight this dreaded illness like a real warrior. They said, No Pains, No Gains ! I got to overcome the pains, restore my logical mind to think of an improved strategy to win, and to live my life as normally as possible. It is going to be a very painful fight, but I do hope to emerge from this episode of life with gained wisdom.

Over the last 3 months, I am also emotionally affected by the news of friends being inflicted with cancer. First, a friend was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus, she went though a successful operation, and is now receiving chemotherapy. About two months ago, a distant relative was diagnosed with lung cancer, she is currently also under chemotherapy. This week, I was informed that, a close friend was diagnosed with colon cancer. She went for operation to remove part of the colon yesterday. I do not know the outcome of the operations. These are all perfectly good people with healthy lifestyles. I do wonder how those sneaky cancer cells managed to breakthrough into their immune system. Perhaps, the Almighty does have a perverted sense of inappropriateness. Emotionally, I think I am too exhausted by all these unhealthy news. I will keep them in my prayers, and hope the Almighty can grant them speedy recovery.

Whatever it is, I thank the Almighty for keeping me alive to fight this dreaded illness. I also thank the Almighty for giving me this alert mind to share out my experiences with others. Praise the Lord.....