Monthly Archives: January 2012

20 Seconds of Courage

“All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.”
- Benjamin Mee, We Bought A Zoo (2011)

The BMA done yesterday showed a 40% blast cells in the bone marrow. Dr Ho called me in the morning, suggesting a need for a new chemotherapy immediately. He asked for my preference,  to return to SGH today or tomorrow. I thought the earlier the better and replied “I’m fine with either days”, which I later regretted.

After telling mum about the news, she asked if I could return tomorrow instead. She wanted all of us to have a dinner together tonight. I thought at most I would do a late check-in after dinner if they have a bed for me today. In my heart, I was hoping mad that both Ward 72 and 77 were fully occupied. I was unprepared and not expecting to be hospitalized this week.

The call came anyway. I negotiated for a late check-in but SSN Clarice reminded me of my condition that needed to be treated ASAP. She said I should be there latest by 4pm so that the ward doctors are still around to do the necessary admin work. I gave in reluctantly. I was reminded of what Benjamin Mee said in the movie “We Bought A Zoo”. If only I took the 20 seconds of courage to call back and state my preference to return tomorrow, I would have the chance to dine with my family tonight. Boo.

This will be yet another month away from home. And for the first time in my life, I will miss a Chinese New Year reunion dinner with my family.

I was unsure how the strong chemo will change me physically. So after I had packed up, I took a couple of pictures with mum, brother and niece.

Before I left, my brother told me to get well soon and get back home soon. I nodded and walked on, feeling tears whelming up in my eyes.

Marrow Donation Options

I reached the Haematology Centre at 8.30am today to get my blood test done before the consultation appointment at 10.40am.

Brother later joined me for a Q & A session with Dr Ho about bone marrow transplant (BMT).

Before we begin, my doctor highlighted the presence of 0.25 blast in my blood which was not noticed a week ago. This is no small matter, as my doctor immediately scheduled a bone marrow examination around noon.

In our discussion, my brother was presented with two donation options:

1. Bone marrow – Donor is knocked out by general anesthesia and about 1 Litre of bone marrow is harvested in a 45 minutes to 1 hour operation. Possible general anesthesia risks, risk of puncturing the nerves, and pain could last for a week.

2. Peripheral Stem Cells – Donor is given granulocyte colony stimulating factor to increase stem cells production over a few days. The stem cells are then harvested by apheresis. There are two controversial studies on this method of harvesting – one reported that donor has a 5% chance of developing leukaemia in the future; the other study reported no such cases.

I could sense that my brother was worried about the risks involved. The decision to take on either option may have a long term impact in his life. I am deeply concerned about the pain or sufferings he may have to go through to save me. I am indebted to him for life.

Bird Watching at Singapore Jurong Bird Park

Would you believe me if I tell you I have never been to the Jurong Bird Park? The truth is I have represented HI! Club to perform song sign on the song “If We Hold On Together” for SADeaf’s International Deaf Day at the park many years ago. But I did not get a chance to visit the attractions inside the park.

Thanks to deal.com.sg, we got a pair of discounted tickets to visit the bird park!

 A perfect day to visit Jurong Bird Park!

Two love birds.

 A Blue and Gold Macaw (Ara ararauna) posing for a photo with visitors.

Getting up close to feed and interact with Rainbow Lorrikeet(Trichoglossus haematodus).

I must applaud Jurong Bird Park for their efforts in educating the visitors about the special features of each individual bird species. Informative boards (some with braille for the visually handicaps), guided tours, feeding sessions, bird shows, and opportunities to get close and interact with the birds – all these definitely spark interest and spread awareness on the importance of wildlife conservation.

Presenting to you the world’s tallest (30 meters) man-made waterfall at the African Waterfall Aviary. Does it still hold the record? In any case, be warned that we have voted this attraction and Parrot Paradise to be mosquito-zone! I wonder if our avian friends get annoyed by the mozzies.

The Jurong Bird Park has lined up educational and exciting bird shows as well as a great variety of exhibits for all. Bird photography alone can keep photography enthusiasts occupied for a long time. It would be good to go to the park with a long zooming camera and a tripod/monopod to get a nice shot. I did not enjoy shooting (with camera) the birds because they move faster than my index finger on the shutter button, some are caged up, and I was limited by the 3.8x zoom of my LX 5. Nevertheless, the blue and golden macaws and the lorrikeet are more patient with amateurs like me.

Blk 52 Gang Reunion Dinner

The Blk 52 Gang had a reunion steamboat dinner at Mushroom Pot! We have been friends, brothers and neighbours for many years. When we were young, we often gathered for board games, catching, badminton, soccer and many other silly things that all boys do. Now as we grew older, we made a point to have a reunion dinner (usually initiated by Keong) to catch up with each other and the good old times.

The attendance was very encouraging this year. We only missed out Long.
We had lots of fun and laughters, and oh.. pork livers.

It was also a chance for me to break the news about my relapse to the gang. But on a happy note, I have a complete match – my brother, who is going to give me a new lease of life. Thank you, brother!

Year of Uncertainties

A few days ago, I was full of hope for the new year. I was so confident of my chemo treatment, that it is coming to an end and I will have my normal life back soon. Until yesterday, Dr Ho revealed that my BMA FISH test shows a significant increase in leukaemic cells (31 out of 200 cells). This means that the chemo I had received did not help to keep me in complete remission state. He had discussed with his team of doctors and they recommended bone marrow transplant (BMT) for me.

For the past half a year, the option of BMT as a treatment was ruled out. I have been telling everyone that I am a lucky bastard – I don’t need a BMT and I would be done with 4 to 5 chemo treatments. It’s so unexpected! BMT is a big word. Going through BMT is a big decision! There are too many uncertainties for BMT – the risks involved, successful rate, side effects, chance of relapse and etc.

Given if BMT is the only option, I told Dr Ho that I would go for it. I want to get well!

Whatever obstacles and challenges ahead, I will stay strong and be positive. I know Qipei, my family and friends will be there to support me! My dad will watch after me too. 加油 TJ!

I will be seeing Dr Ho again next Tues (10-Jan) to discuss about BMT.

Happy New Year

Happy new year! It’s 2012!

I have been using this blog to keep an account of my leukaemia fighting journey. The outlook of the treatment is optimistic and I am expected to return to my normal life soon. So I decided it’s time to refresh the look of tjfightscancer.com as well.

Please bear with me while I am making the changes!

Cheers to an awesome 2012!