Tag Archives: life changing

Day 98

I was quietly celebrating my life after 1 year of diagnosis. Every thing looked good, just the way we wanted it to be after the transplant.
But just two days before Day +100, we found 0.6 x 10^9/L of blast in my blood.

Where did they come from?

The high dose chemotherapy should have wiped out all bad blood in me. In April, I was totally cleared of leukaemic cells. My blood cells and bone marrow then were all matured from the stem cells my brother donated to me.

What went wrong?

I can’t believe this is happening to me, again. I dread the thought of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant. I dislike hospital stays.

My hope and optimism are consumed by this devil, every time it returns.

 

29 Gifts by Cami Walker

I’m a sucker for self-help books and I found 29 Gifts very inspirational and close to my heart. Found this book by chance two weeks ago, and it got me curious about how Cami coped with her illness, overcome the odds and initiated a goodwill movement over the Internet.

Cami was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) shortly after one month of her marriage. MS is an incurable autoimmune disease in which patients’ immune system attacks myelin, a protective layer for nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord, and causes disruption to the message transmitted along the nerve. MS upsets Cami’s life badly and she became very negative about it, constantly asking the question, “Why me?”. That’s a very common thought of newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families too!

One day, Cami met an African medicine woman Mbali who prescribed “Giving 29 gifts in 29 days” to her. Because “By giving, you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life.”, Mbali told her. In the month-long project, Cami realized that her focus on giving had unknowingly helped her to “let go” of some sufferings and problems. Along also came many helps and pleasant surprises which she learned to accept graciously with gratitude. Cami’s life had changed for the better and eventually she had founded 29Gifts.org hoping to recruit more givers in this world.

In my family, we were always taught not to trouble others and to politely reject gifts in kind. If we were to receive any gifts, it’s only right that we return a gift of similar value. A bit of traditional Chinese culture, like the¬†exchange of mandarin oranges during Chinese New Year. Perhaps it’s because we don’t expect to receive so it wasn’t a habit to give either. Last year when I was having my first cycle of chemotherapy treatment, LeRoy’s mother insisted on bringing healthy home-cooked vegetarian dinner to me daily. After politely dissuading her a few times, Aunty Susan told me, “I don’t have to give, but I want to.”. It wasn’t the tasty meals but her time and and sincerity that touched me deeply, as I later later found out that her late father was hospitalized at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. She could have spent the time with her father, but she made time for me just to make sure I have good nutrition to fight leukaemia. My mum, then, was unable to visit me as often as she would love to because she had to take care of my late father who was getting less mobile. Hence, we were very grateful for Aunty Susan and her family for their unconditional generosity and kindness.

Cami’s memoir reminded me of the goodwills I’ve received. It has also inspired me to start giving unconditionally and consciously, and thus, the very first project to raise funds for Hair for Hope 2012! (Please support me!!!) Since May is my birthday month, I decided to embark on this journey of 29 days of giving. I will try to update my daily givings here.

I would recommend 29 Gifts to anyone caught in a tough situation and needed a little inspiration. Let us all be reminded that there are miracles, good, humanity and abundance in this world. Experience a change of perspective in your life and pass on this goodness to others! Thank you Cami for sharing!

P.S. If you enjoy giving, you may like Katie Sokoler’s (owner of blog Color Me Katie)¬† Love Note project and the recent Easter Egg Hunt project – leaving pleasant surprises around for people to find. That’s how fun giving can be!

Life Changing 34 Days

34 days of confinement and I am finally discharged from SGH! This is quite an experience for me, a life changing one.

I remember the scene that mum teared when I told her it’s leukaemia. Devastated. It’s so cruel that she has just accepted her husband’s stage 3 lung cancer, and now, she has to accept her youngest son’s new diagnosis. The sight and thought of her crying breaks my heart. I knew to make her smile again, I have to be strong and positive – and it works! This is the power of positive influence!

Although the statistics for AML patients to going into complete remission look promising, I felt a need to have my girlfriend reconsider about our relationship. Qipei knew about the possible outcomes, but she believed in me. We want to go through this together and I am certain it will further strengthen our relationship.

The first cycle of chemotherapy (a.k.a. induction chemotherapy) aims to bring the disease to remission. Cytarabine and Idarubicin were administered, both intravenously, for 22 hours over 7 days and 3 boluses over 3 days, respectively. Of cos, anti-nausea and anti-vomiting (antiemetics) drug was given prior to chemo to prevent any nauseous feeling or vomiting. This cycle was rather gentle on me – only experienced bloated tummy and dry skin. The gassy stomach was relieved towards Day 7 and there was moisturizer for dry skin.

My platelet counts dropped after chemo and brushing teeth was a no no! There was an occasion after rinsing my mouth, in front of the mirror, I noticed some bits of cookies stuck in between my teeth. My itchy finger removed it and fresh blood flowed out from the adjacent gum. In the subsequent two days, my gum bled at various locations and they just refused to clot until what felt like a blood gelatin formed. I tried to remove these gelatin with my tongue and my poor gum begun bleeding again. The pseudo-jelly salty-iron tasting blood in my mouth was really yucky! I learned my lesson to go on soft diet and not disturb any clots when my platelet counts are low.

I was prepared for hair loss and I thought it really does not matter to me. First, it was finding strands of hair on my pillow in the morning. Next was seeing loose strands of hair on my palms after shampooing. The ultimate was when I sat on my bed and shook my head vigorously, strands of hair just fell off. I laughed. Then I botak-ed myself with mum’s help. It was cooling and not so demoralizing anymore.

A few days into chemo, I began to inform a few close friends. They came with well wishes, food, entertainments and good companionships. It was really heartening and morale-boosting for me – I wasn’t fighting leukaemia alone! A particular support that I must mention is from LeRoy and his family. Aunty Susan, LeRoy’s mum, blessed me with some wellness products to complement with my treatment. She also cooked a variety of healthy vegetarian dinners and delivered them to me almost every evening. And of cos, there were lovely messages from friends who could not make it to visit me. I felt loved and I saw genuine care and kindness from everyone. All these – priceless!

My life has changed. I am now living a life with gratitude, love, hope, and zest!