Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bits & Bytes (8)

I completed 30 sessions of 3DCRT last week. As a follow-up, I consulted th doctor today on my next course of action.

The good news is, the blood test result showed a further drop of the CA19.9 marker from 2899 to 1970. A drop of 32%. The negative sign is, my weight now has gone below 60kg. Compared to my previous weight of 102kg, I have lost almost 50kg over period of one year. Hmmm..... Almost half of me has gone, I am indeed not half the man I used to be. I guess I need to go to the departmental store to buy new clothes !

Anyway, I do hope the CA19.9 marker can continue to drop to within normal rang soon. And, I am also equally hopeful that, the latest marker reading is an indication of the reduction in size of the tumor.

The doctor has recommended that I take a one month “break” in receiving treatment. I will be admitted to the hospital again at end of August 2009 for further medical procedure such as CT Scan, Lab diagnostic, etc. to assess my status and to plan for next round of strategy. For the time being, the good doctor told me that everything is under control, and I should make use of the month long break to enjoy whatever I want to do.

I have gone through seven rounds of intravenous chemotherapy, 4 months of targeted drugs, one round of alternative treatment protocol, and as well as the recent combination of oral chemo together with radiation therapy. I know, all these treatments, medications, and procedures during the last 12 months have inflicted heavy damages on my body. Not wanting to sound pessimistic, but the rational side me has the expectation that the road ahead is not going to be any more easier than my current state of uncertainty. What I can do now is not to b too anxious of what lies ahead, but rather to take stock of my current situation, and get myself ready for the battle ahead. What I really need to do now is to arrest my declining weight and strengthen my body over the next 30 days or so, so that I am physically fit to combat those nasty mutant cells again when the I resume my next treatment protocol in about a month's time.

Looking back, I used to take pride in myself for having control and always in the driver seat for whatever I want to do. While my mind is still alert and my spirit is still strong, but physically, this cancer thingy has slowly and surely inflicted degradations on my body. I fainted a few times while doing a simple chores like climbing the stairs, and even fell down while walking because I lost control of my left leg. A man is suppose to be the pillar of the family, I really do not want to lose my dignity by becoming a burden to my family members. I guess the only way for me to overcome this unwelcome situation is by having greater determination and will to win this battle against my present chronic illness. I hope the Almighty does not forsake me again, but to give me the guidance and strength to overcome the challenges ahead.

So, what am I going to do during this “medical break” ? Well, I will do some traveling, write my journal, and sharpening my photography skills. Perhaps, I will take this opportunity to live life as it is, one day at a time, smell the flowers, and appreciate the creations of the Almighty.

Praise the Lord, and may all beings be well and healthy........

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bits & Bytes (7)

Finally I completed 30 sessions of 3DCRT over a period of six weeks. After the radiation therapy this morning, I went to the hospital lab to have blood sample taken for blood test. Hopefully, the blood test result can be ready for my next weekly consultation with the doctor.

I will have to go for another round of CT scan some times in September 2009 to assess the performance of th radiation therapy. My appointment with the doctor next week is to discuss on the maintenance strategy while awaiting the CT scan. Hopefully, the doctor I don't have to for another round of chemotherapy again !

Although I completed my last radiation therapy session today, but somehow, I do not feel relief or happy that the whole treatment protocol is over. Back in my mind, I am thinking, what next ? What other endurance tests, anguish, or frustrations I have to go through again ? Well, dealing with this cancer thingy is such a horrible and painful affair. There are simply too many uncertainties to deal with. So far, I believe I have dealt with all these emotional and physical issues with certain level of dignity, but I do wonder, how much more longer I can hold on dealing with all those frustrations and uncertainties. I thank the Almighty for giving me the strength to live on and move on with life..

When I was first diagnosed with this illness, one of my main worry is me being not able to see my son finish his college education. But by the grace of Almighty, he managed to complete his undergraduate course on schedule, and started his career in a software house. I look forward to attend my son convocation to mark a milestone into is adulthood. My son's convocation is in mid August 2009. I guess, the right thing for me to do now is to find a way to built up my physique and weight so that I won't look like a walking skeleton during his graduation ceremony. I want him to have good memory of his father in a healthy frame rather than having a picture with a frailed and sicked looking father. I have 3 more weeks to go to gain the needed extra weight. I hope I can look healthy again at his graduation ceremony.

May all beings be well and healthy........

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bits & Bytes (6)

Today, I received my 28th session of 3DCRT. 2 more sessions to go before I complete this treatment protocol. Time flies, it's been almost six week of radiation therapy and oral chemo for me. What next ? Well, I got to complete the remaining 2 sessions, go for the blood test, then consult the good doctor next week on the next best strategy to combat those nasty cancer cells.

I received my blood test result and consulted the doctor yesterday. Overall, after dumping all those toxic chemical into my system, the blood test result indicate that my liver is still functioning normally. With regards to the CA19.9 Tumor Marker, the reading now stands at 2899. Compared to the previous week's reading of 4618, the marker reading has dropped a further 37%. Overall, compared to the initial marker reading of 15229 on 19/06/2009, the marker reading has dropped 81%. I do hope the remaining sessions of 3DCRT and oral chemo can finished off those nasty cancer cells and pull the marker reading to the normal range. I guess the latest marker reading basically indicates that there is a decreasing trend of cancer cells activities in my body. I do hope this decreasing marker reading result in proportional reduction in size of the tumor at my pancreas.

Although my appetite is still a concern to me, but there are also some positive indications over the previous 10 days or so. My weight over the previous 1 week stabilized within the range of 62 to 63 Kg. And, I had not been taking pain killers for the previous 10 days. Although there are still some discomforts at my abdominal and back areas, but I do realized, I am having less pains, and the pain level is now more manageable. Hopefully, these improvements are indications that I am hitting the right direction along the road of recovery.

Well, what else can I say ? After almost one year of wondering in the dark tunnel and fighting for my survival, I am still standing ! As long as I cam still able to get up the next day, I stand to have a good fighting chance to overcome my present health predicament. Praise the Lord.......

May all beings be well and healthy........

Monday, July 20, 2009

1Malaysia - I had a dream

Every politician has a dream..... dreamm...... dreaaaaaammmmmmm....... dreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeamm..... all i have to do is dream..............

Bits & Bytes (5)

Finally, I completed 5 weeks of 3DCRT, today is the beginning of the sixth week. Well, one more week to go to complete the whole course of 3DCRT and oral chemo. After which I will be “on leave” for 30 days before I go back to the hospital for another round of Computer Tomography scan to assess the progress of this latest treatment protocol.

I took my blood test for cancer marker on the previous Friday, and the result should be out by tomorrow for my usual weekly consultation with the doctor. Hopefully, the blood test gave acceptable result tomorrow.

I feel awful today, I think the radiation therapy has, in a way, also affect the normal functioning of my stomach. I felt like vomiting through out the morning and afternoon. In fact, I had been having problem managing this side effect since the beginning of the 3DCRT treatment. My appetite for food has been affected, and consequently, I encountered substantial weight loss.

This fight against cancer is tougher than I thought. It is like I am being thrown into a boxing ring with a biased umpire, invisible opponents, and unknown game rules. The minute the bell rang, flurries of punches are thrown at me by the invisible opponent. I am floored, and the umpire quickly hit the canvas to start counting “one, two,.... three... four...” I had to get up before the count reach 10, otherwise, it is game over for me. Immediately I got up, the flurries of punches by the invisible opponent landed on me again. Again I am floored, and the umpire rushed in to hit the canvas to start the count of “one... two.... three.... four...” with bloodied nose, puffed face, and blurred vision, I told myself to get up before the empire count me out. Again, as soon as I got up, punches are all over me again to floor me. The situation of being floored and getting repeats itself, over and over again. I told myself, the only way for me to win, is to keep getting up, stand up like a man, hopefully, the invisible opponent eventually get tired of throwing punches and give up trying to knock me out. Fat hope ? I don't know. Times will tell......

I am an educated man with reasonable mind. When dealing with cancer, I know the statistic and am aware that the odds are stacked heavily against me. But the poetic side of me is still romantically fancied the idea of hope and miracles. While my hope for a cure is currently hanging on a very thin thread, I still have confident in myself to find a way to condition my mind to triggered spontaneous remission, and I believe the Almighty still have a purpose for me, he shall deliver miracle to me at a time and place of his choosing.

Life, how hard can it be ? For the time being, this frailed commander of a badly bruised battleship will live one day at a time........

May all beings be well and healthy........

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not a good day ?

After I received my 22nd 3DCRT treatment this morning, I attended my weekly consultation with the doctor. I checked with the good doctor on the progress of my treatment, and the good doctor told me not to be too anxious about the progress yet. I was advised to wait for the completion of the 3DCRT first, then come back again in another month for a computer tomography scan to evaluate the size of the tumor. I am expected to complete the whole course of 3DCRT on July 27th 2009.

The followings are my weekly blood test result on the CA 19.9 tumor marker :

19/06/2009 15,229
26/06/2009 12,187
03/07/2009 9,988
10/07/2009 4,618

So, over the period of 4 weeks, the tumor marker has dropped 70%, which is quite substantial. Hopefully, the percentage drop in the CA19.9 marker is proportionate to the reduction in size of the tumor at the pancreas. However, the doctor told me not to rely on the marker reading as indication of my progress, because the most accurate assessment is still based on the CT scan.

Whatever it is, I will have to look forward positively to manage the treatments and hopefully, I shall overcome this dreaded illness soon.

I am also very happy to be informed that my son graduation ceremony is scheduled in mid August 2009. Hopefully, I am fit enough to attend his graduation on that day. I thank the Almighty for his grace in guiding my son to complete his undergraduate course on schedule and qualified for graduation. Praise the Lord......

May all beings be well and healthy........

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bits & Bytes (4)

I completed 4th weeks of daily 3DCRT, so, today is my fifth week of radiation therapy. There are nine more sessions to go before I wrapped up this latest treatment protocol. Luckily, my skin affected by the radiation exposure has not broken yet, otherwise, it would be a very painful affair for me. I do hope my thick skin don't give up on me for the remaining sessions, there are only two more weeks left. So, hang on.........

Looking back, the 3DCRT sessions, though is painless procedure where I am expose to controlled radiation for 5 to 10 minutes daily only, but the treatment protocol does have it down side. The oral chemo drug, Xeloda, used in conjunction with the 3DCRT, also caused lost of appetites, diarrhea, and a host of others side effects. For a start, since the beginning of the therapy, I had lost more than 10 Kg of weight, and I am now struggling to maintain my weight to prevent it from further degradation. Due to lacked of appetite for foods, I am now also affected by malnutrition. One unwelcome consequence of this “nutrition deficiency” is, I am beginning to waste the muscle on my left leg. My left leg has grown weaker. I do hope, by end of the 3DCRT treatment protocol, I would be able to gain back my appetites, take in more protein based foods to restore the strength of my left leg.

Well, what else can I say ? The road to recovery is indeed full of frustrations and surprises. For the previous 10 months, I went through a lot of extremities in emotion such as fear, anxiety, frustration, sadness, anger, loneliness, etc. For a start, I do not know what to expect. When the arrays of extremities of emotions hit me, I do not know how to manage them. And at the initial stage, most of the times, my mind was blank – I was hearing without listening ! I worried about the near future. I fear being a burden to my family members, and I worried about whether my financial resources would be able to meet the medical expenses. It was indeed a very stressful period for me, and also my family members.

At the beginning, I kept asking myself what causes me to be inflicted with this dreaded illness called cancer. I felt guilty and blamed myself and my previous lifestyle. But the sad fact is, no body actually know what causes cancer. Perhaps, the Almighty is his perverted way, inflicted cancer on me to teach me a lesson, as a punishment of my sin, or whatever. Whatever it is, I have learned and overcome this unnecessary feeling of guilt.

Emotionally, I am not an expressive person, but all these unwelcome emotion built up within me made me a walking time bomb waiting to be exploded. But strangely, somehow, the Almighty blessed me with the grace to defuse the situations.

As an emotionally sensitive person, I do realized, at times, I am having difficulty relating to my loved ones, family members, and friends my predicaments and my needs. I also realized, there are also people avoided me because they felt uncomfortable with my acquired “disease”. Managing the various treatment protocols and their side effects is also another difficult aspect of dealing with cancer. How I wish there is a counseling agency to guide cancer patients what to expect and how to manage those expectations. As it is, I realized, emotionally, I am on my own, and I just need to be strong for myself to handle all those present's and future's fears and uncertainties.

I realized, having been inflicted with cancer doesn't mean I have to loose HOPE and Aspiration. I know, as long as I can hang on to another day, modern medicine will find a cure for me. And on my bended knee, I pray with the hope that my heavenly father knows my predicaments and intervene to provide his divine healing. Well, the Almighty promised “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

May all beings be well and healthy........

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Of alternative treatments...

Today, I received a call from a lady who introduced herself as “a friend of my friend”. She told me that she learned about my chronic illness from “my friend”, and she has a product that can cure cancer. A friend of my friend ? But she is not able to tell me the name of the friend. Well, there is a Chinese saying that goes like this - “ Thean Xia Wu Yah Yee Yang Hei” 天下烏鴉 一樣 黑, translated, it means “all the crows under the sky have the same blackness”. Well, whenever you go, there are always over anxious medicine peddler selling false hope to desperate chronic disease sufferers. Sometimes, I do wonder, why in this world, there are so many immoral people seeking every opportunities to try to make immoral gains at the expense of desperate people.

I know, as a cancer patient, I am desperately looking for a cure, but luckily, I still have a logical mind to make objective assessment, and previous bad experiences also made me wiser. Put it this way, if a person has a product that can cure cancer or other chronic diseases, he or she would probably be a billionaire now. As a billionaire, would she or he still have the time making all the personal call to pitch their so called proven products ?

As far as I am concerned, all those so called alternative treatments for cancer are basically nutritional supplements, some are over prices, and some are over glorified. I am not against alternative medicine or treatments, but it is the false hope they are selling that I am against. I have no problem if the alternative medicines are sold as complimentary nutritional supplements to evidence based medicine. Most of the alternative medicines or treatments are grossly overpriced and expensive. As a result, some of these unscrupulous medicine peddlers or direct sale personnel resorted to convince cancer patient to abandon evidence based medicine in order to increase their chances of concluding the “deal”. I do sincerely hope that those who involved in the peddling of alternative medicines or treatments can have some basic decency to love their fellow human being rather than obsessed with making a few extra sinful dollars.

I also find it very amusing that, there are also ignorant souls preaching to me the mightiness of the Almighty in healing my chronic illness. I was once advised by a so called very religious person to abandon seeking treatments from the doctor but to keep praying to the Almighty for healing. Being a very observant person, I saw he carry a small packet of medication in his pocket. I asked him what is the medication for ? He told me it is for migraine. Well, so much about his religiosity and faith in the Almighty ! For minor illness like migraine, he seek treatment from the doctor, but advise a cancer patient like me to abandon treatments and seek healing from the Almighty ? My take on this spirituality is very simple, God only help those who help themselves, and God also gave us a logical mind to resolve our own problem. When dealing with chronic illnesses, let us not be blinded by blind faith and religious fanaticism. Have faith in yourself, and cultivate hope through prayer, but never, never take advise from those idiots to abandon treatments from evidence based medicines.

May all beings be well and healthy. My the Almighty bless all of us with good health and happiness......

Monday, July 06, 2009

Bits & Bytes (3)....

Today, I received my 16tth session of 3DCRT. Time flies, all in all, I have gone through 3 weeks of daily 3DCRT, another 3 more weeks to go before I wrapped up this latest treatment protocol and move on to other treatment issues.

I was supposed to go down to Taiping to attend the old boys reunion dinner and to check on the progress of the rebuilding of the scout den, but unfortunately, I had to cancel the trip on Saturday morning because I was not feeling comfortable due to uncomfortable abdominal pains and discomfort at the chest. I am rather sad of not being able to make the trip because, like a sentimental old fool, I do really look forward to meet those “old boys” to rekindle my childhood memories. On the other hand, the scout den is also part of my sentimental journey from my teenage years to adulthood. I hope, in my absent, the Old Boys association in Taiping and the school's PIBG can ensure the scout den is put up according to schedule and complying to safety requirements. Well, maybe next year, I will be still around to attend the old boys' reunion dinner in Taiping.

Prior to receiving my radiation treatment this morning, the nurse check on my pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and weight. With the exception of my weight, all indicators are in normal range. I am still losing weight, and over the period of four weeks, I lost more than 10 Kg of weight. I am hitting dangerously close to the 60Kg mark, and I hope my appetite can be improved significantly over the next few days to restore upward trend in weight.

Realistically, looking at the current scenario, how do I assess my current situation ? Put it this way, I am now a frailed commander in a badly bruised battleship. Do I now retreat to a safe harbour to find means to recuperate, or do I still charge ahead into the battle ground to defend whatever inches of advantage I still possessed ? Either way, I know, my life now hang precariously on too many unknowns and too many uncertainties which are totally beyond my control. I know, life is tough, but this journey of attempting to restore my health has been too hellish and it really is, a tough journey all this while.

Whatever it is, I do look forward to tomorrow. I know, as long as I can still have an alert mind tomorrow, I will always have a good fighting chance of winning this battle against cancer.

C'est la Vie...........


The rest of the Orchids photos are located at my facebook.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Bits & Bytes (2) ....

This week, I am on the third week of 3DCRT. As of today, I have received 13 sessions of 3DCRT, and there are 18 more sessions to go. So far, the side effects or discomforts encountered are occasional diarrhea, nausea, occasional constipation, abdominal pains, back pains, and loss of appetite. On the physical front, I felt extremely tired and weak, this is probably due to the fact that, my body now need to exert extra energies to repair all the coll damages to the healthy cells due to radiation. I am beginning to encounter weakness in my left leg and left arm. So now, I also need to be extra careful when climbing stairs and doing my normal walking exercise.

Due to my lacked of taste or loss of appetite for food, I am still struggling to arrest and maintain my weight loss. I am now weighing at about 65KG, which means, over a period of about a month, I have lost another 10KG in weight. I do hope this weight loss will not become another major health issue for me.

After 13 sessions of 3DCRT, I do not know whether the physical size of the tumor has been reduced or shrunk. However, the cancer marker test done last Friday show a 20% reduction. I hope, at least the size of the tumor are shrunk proportionately.

Well, it's been almost a year managing and dealing with treatment issues. I had been hopping in and out of hospital, enduring the discomforts and side effects, coping with the emotional ups and downs of my state of being, etc. It's been a long and frustrating journey on the road to recovery. I do sincerely hope I still have the mental strength and stamina to run the last mile. I am actually very tired of all these unintended nonsenses. Honestly, sometimes, I do think the mighty God is a pervert – He enjoy watching good guys suffering..........

Last Sunday, my son drove me to the national zoological park to practice photo shooting skills. In fact, since I was diagnosed with this illness, my son has been trying his level best to spend more times with me. At his teenage years, I hardly spend time with him. I always took it for granted that I will always have time for him on another day, but too many “another day” passed by. By the time I realized it, he is already a young man busy with his own career. I am so glad that I am now given another opportunity to establish a closer relationship with my son now.

Anyway, I did have a good time at the Zoo shooting photographs and discussing techniques with my son. AT least some outdoor activities and interests can at least keep my mind out of being indulging in fearing the discomforts and unknowns of this dreaded illness.

On our way back from the zoo, while driving, my son asked “ Dad, how do you feel today ?” A simple question, but it does made me realized that, this young man sitting next to me, is indeed now a fine gentleman, sensitive to the emotional needs of his father. I gently tapped his hand and replied “ I am so happy today.......”

Yes, I am so happy because I had been blessed with a good son.............