Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year Mood

I think I was down with the flu yesterday. I vomited twice. After taking two panadols, I am feeling much better today. The latest news from the doctors is that I will be given a full CT scan on 4 January next year  and discharged from the hospital on 5 January. I plan to rest for a day in Chongqing before I fly back to Kuala Lumpur on 7 January.
This evening, I went out for a walk and had a Subway salad for dinner. This hospital is nice. I can come out for a 1 to 3 hour walk after all the drips for the day are done, provided my condition is good.. I spend about 8 to 10 hours each day on drips. There is a 3 day New Year holiday here My roommate took leave from hospital and went home for 4 days to celebrate the New Year!. There are lots of people all over the place. Everyone seems to be out jamming or shopping.  There is also no HIFU treatment today.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Road to Recovery

I feel a bit giddy today. I also feel like vomiting. I could not sleep last night  because I spent the entire daytime  sleeping yesterday. .Otherwise, there is good progress. The pain on my backside is subsiding.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Surgery Pains

I don't feel so good now..I feel weak and spent most of today in bed, sleeping. I have also been coughing alot. Whenever I cough, I experience bad pain at my backside. There is slight pain at the tumour area. I started drinking some water in the afternoon. For dinner, I have been allowed porridge.
I hope I will feel better tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Big Day

The last two days have been spent on cleaning up my gastrointestinal tract. I have been on soft diet, only plain teowchew porridge is allowed.  I also took two allergy tests.
Last night was a really difficult night for me. I had to do five clean water enemas to clear the colon and another four enemas this morning. Winter is the wrong time to be doing this. It is cold especially when one has to do enemas. The pain on my legs are the real killer. Even though it is supposed to be a non-invasive procedure, the preparations for it is like that of a major operation. There are risks involved.
Finally, the big day has arrived and I am looking forward to it. I will be starting the HIFU treatment under general anasthesia this morning. The procedure is expected to take more than 5 hours.
Incidentally, since I have been in China, this blog has been updated on my behalf by my friend. There is also no internet access in this hospital. Every few days, I will go back to my hotel to read my emails. My friend has also been copying your comments to me via email so that I can continue to receive your moral support. Please wish me luck.

Update at 8.45 pm
I  have regained consciousness. I am still groggy. Thank you for your prayers, chanting, positive energy and kind thoughts.I will provide an update tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I am making preparations for my upcoming HIFU treatment. I am looking forward to it. I will post more on these preparations tomorrow. For today, here's wishing all of you a Joyful and Blessed Christmas!
Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2011

On Track

I feel good and there is not much pain. My recovery has been good according to the doctors. There has been no complications so far. The implant I received yesterday is called internal radiotherapy (translated from Mandarin), a specific target of delivering particles directly to the tumour cells. In my case, three small punctures were made for the delivery. If everything goes well, my HIFU treatment will proceed next Monday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting the Chills

Last night, my sleep was disturbed by a bout of coughing. I woke up feeling chilly. My roommate must have switched off the heater in the room while I was asleep. The clothes I had on as well as my comforter were not enough to keep me warm especially with the heater off. My back also hurts..
My roommate had been here in March this year to treat his liver cancer using HIFU. He is back again for treatment of some stomach bleeding problems this time round. He said that this hospital is very good in HIFU including the treatment of fibroids. He went on to tell me of many success stories.  
Later in the morning, the doctor came for his rounds. He informed me that they would be proceeding with the  radiotherapy implant on the lung tumour in the afternoon. It was originally planned for Friday.
There was some delay towards afternoon but I  finally managed to complete the implant by evening. The doctors said that it went well but I suppose we will have to see the final results from the scan. I experienced a little pain during and after the procedure. Otherwise, I am doing okay.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tight Schedule

I spent most of my time sleeping yesterday. The doctors have been using a morphine patch for my nerve pain but it does not seem to be working. Since the MRI scan I did back in Malaysia is not clear, I will have to do another one here if I want to investigate further. Then again, even with another MRI, the doctors may still not  know the exact cause of the pain. Therefore, their main focus and priority is to treat the tumours before my 30 days visa expires. Treatment  for my leg pain is secondary.
As it is now, my schedule is quite tight. I have been requesting the doctors to accelerate my treatments and to shorten the observation time after each treatment. I am also put on drips daily to boost my immune system. This morning I went for another CT scan and on Friday, I will get the radiotherapy implant on the new lung tumour and possibly HIFU treatment early next week. I hope everything proceeds smoothly.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Good Progress

I am feeling much better today. The doctor came this morning and said that everything is good. In fact, he said  that I am recovering quite fast from TAE, I think the pain I experienced yesterday must have been the side effects of the TAE. I will have to go for a CT scan this coming Wednesday to see if the TAE procedure is working. Seeing my progress, he is encouraged to do radiotherapy implant on the new 4cm+ tumour on my right lung.  I am scheduled for a small dose of radiotherapy drug  to be injected into the tumour this Friday.. If everything goes smoothly, I shall proceed with the HIFU treatment to be done together on both the kidney and  new lung tumour before the end of the year. The doctor is confident in treating this new lung tumour but not the old ones.
I have no issue with targeted chemo/radiotherapy but such procedures are expensive because the drugs are delivered directly to the tumour. The drug for the radiotherapy implant costs RMB40k alone but is safe and effective for use.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pain for Company

I am still in the hospital because I developed a fever yesterday. The doctors are keeping me for another night. The kidney tumour has been giving me alot of pain. Because of the pain, I find each day difficult to pass. I just sit quietly and do some walking now and then. There is little time to feel depressed because pain is occupying all my time. When I talk, it brings the phlegm up, which leads to coughing. For me, its just too painful to cough right now. The doctors gave me some painkillers earlier but they were not very effective.The names of the drugs are in Chinese so I do not what those drugs are. However, they have just given me an injection and it seems to be working.  The pain has subsided.  Besides the pain medication, the doctors also gave me something for my cough. It has also helped control the cough.
The weather is cold outside. I wish to go back to my dear old home as soon as possible.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Smoothly It Went

The TAE procedure went smoothly. The procedure started at 9.30 am and I was out of the operating theatre at about  11 am. I was given instructions not to move my right leg for 12 hours and not to get up for 24 hours. Due to the period of immobility in bed, I am experiencing pain from the nerve around my butt area. I cannot walk well. The doctor recommended that I stay on for one more day in the hospital. Otherwise, I am recovering well.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Till Tomorrow

This morning, I went to the hospital for four allergy tests. I don't know what the tests are because the test names are in Chinese and I am not able to make a translation of them into English. These tests are important because it would determine if I am able to take the TAE and HIFU treatments.

So far, this is what has been planned for me. I will check-in to the hospital at 3pm today and I will be briefed on the TAE procedure and risks involved and also sign some forms. After that I will stay the night at the hospital. The procedure is scheduled for tomorrow, the time at this moment is not known yet. This is because the doctors are still waiting for confirmation from the operating theatre what time slot is available for me. I will stay in the hospital for a couple of days and the doctors will observe my recovery, especially if I have any severe side effects (known side effects are fever and pain).

So, I will be out for a day or two and hopefully by the 17 December, the doctors will  discharge me from the hospital. The doctor said a week is required to determine if I can proceed to the next stage which is the HIFU treatment.

So, I hope to provide you an update as soon as I get out of the hospital.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Tumor Strikes Back

Since I arrived in China, I can only use one word to described my experience. Painful. I have underestimated how my body would react to the cold weather. I have been coughing non-stop. Somehow, the coughing triggers the same nerves that connects to my butt and groin area. As a result I have been experiencing excruciating pain that paralyses my body, almost freezing me when I am walking. I don't know why it deteriorated so badly. Next is the food. People here don't believe in being vegetarian. Not a single food shop sells vegetarian food. So I had to make do what is available. There are are quite a number of food shops but most of them sell noodles and everyone shop have more or less the same menu! I did not go to the bigger restaurants nor did I find food courts at some of the shopping complexes that I visited.  The pain on my leg and butt is so bad that most of the time I stayed in the hotel leaving it to my sister and my wife to pack food for me. Walking is just too painful.

Yesterday, I met the hospital representative called Cathy at the hotel lobby. She took us to the hospital which is about 10 minutes walk away but I can only do it in about 30 minutes. She did the administration procedure for me, introduced me to my doctor in charge, Dr Yang and the team head, Professor Zhu. After that I went for my blood test. They took about 10 little tubes of blood from me. Wonder what test they are going to do? They could not schedule me for the CT scan immediately after the blood test, so I had to go back to the hospital the next day at 8.30am the scan. So this morning, I had to fast again for the CT scan as they have to inject the contrast into me. The CT examination room was full of people. Somehow, I got to jump queue and did the scan after about 20 minutes waiting time. I was told to come back to the hospital at 4pm today to review the results of the CT scan and the doctor would give me a treatment plan. As for the kidney tumor, the tumor has grown slightly from 11.3cm to 11.9cm. But the bad news is that they discovered a new tumor the size of over 4cm on top of the right lung. This is by far the biggest tumor which means the rest of the old nodes are more or less the same size. Dr Yang told me I would be experiencing pain about my right chest area because of this.

Due to the discovery of this new tumor, their original plan of treatment has also changed. Besides costs implications which would grow from RMB60K to between RMB100K - RMB150K if treatment of the new tumor is to be included. Also instead of just using HIFU treatment for my kidney tumor, the doctors are recommending I do transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TAE) because of the size of my tumor. What this means is that prior to the HIFU procedure, the doctors will inject TAE into the arteries that supply blood to my kidney tumor to block the blood supply. This would enhance the success of the HIFU treatment. I would then be monitored on the progress of my recovery and the side effects are fever and pain. If within the week, there are no further reaction, then the treatment for HIFU would start sometime next week.

I told my doctors of my pain problem and he suggested I do an other MRI to pin point the actual problem. He said my MRI scans that I brought along is not clear. The doctor told me that this is just to find out what causes the pain on my groin and butt and he has ruled out cancer as the cause. He reminded me that the main focus is on the kidney tumor. He then prescribed me some drugs for my coughing and pain management. He said he would like to know if the pain killer he prescribed to me did help to stop the pain or not.

Dr Yang and Professor Zhu suggested that they can also use HIFU treatment for my new tumor. However, in addition to the HIFU treatment, they would also want to do a pretreament procedure by injection some targeted radiotherapy directly to the tumor. This is just a suggestion and they will discuss it with me further after the outcome of the HIFU therapy on my kidney tumor. Dr yang also said it is not possible to treat the other tumors as there are too numerous and small all over my lungs. So they prefer to treat the biggest tumor. Anyway, its too early for me to decide now. I will wait for the outcome of the HIFU treatment on kidney tumor first.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Greetings From Chongqing, China

I planned that I will spend about 1 1/2 days in Chengdu for a rest before proceeding to Chongqing.I was really tired on Sunday. After waking up, I went for a quick breakfast and then to the railway ticketing agent to purchase 3 tickets to Chongqing on Monday morning. After getting the train tickets, I went back to the hotel to continue my sleep while my sister and my wife took a trip to the Chengu Gian Panda Breeding and Research Center. Both my legs are getting from bad to worst. It seems to be more painful now. Just after a short walking, I would have to stop and take a rest. My sinus came back and I have been getting nose blocked everyday since I arrived. I have also been coughing and everytime I cough, the pain on my nerves around the groin and right butt area is also becoming very painful. This is especially so if I am not on the pain killer. So, most of the time, I spent at the hotel lying in bed.

The TV programs stinks. Getting vegetarian food is so difficult that I had no choice but to make special request like chowmien and told them just to add just vegetables (no eggs and meat), low salt and low oil. In Chengdu, every food must be laced with chilli powder, so I have to tell them low chilli powder as well. Yesterday evening, I ordered fried rice, again no eggs and meat, low salt, low sugar and low chilli powder. What I got was plain fried rice (with some oil and salt) but nothing else in it. So, have to teach the cook to add vegetables when frying the rice. The proprietress was very accomodating and apologising as she did not know how to do a vegetarian fried rice.

I have been sleeping better. Despite taking a nap on Sunday, I was able to sleep last night. This morning, I took breakfast at the hotel, with some simple food like bread and pumpkin porridge. At 9am, I check-out of the hotel and took a taxi to the Chengdu Railway Station East. The railway station is huge, as big as the KLIA main terminal building and security is much like airport where passenger has to show identity proof as well as scanning of all luggages. The morning jam was bad but since the railway station was away from the city, it took about 20 minutes to arrive. The train is very modern and departed Chengdu on time at 10.25am and arrived at Chongqing at just about 12.25pm with one stop in between. The first part of the journey, the train was travelling at speeds of 195kph while after the stop in between, the train slowed down to a speed of about 160kph.

Chongqing railway station is also very big but not as big as the Chengdu station. It is connected to a underground MRT and also taxi station. Although the queue was long, getting a taxi was easy. This time I was more prepared and showed the taxi driver the name and address of the hotel in Mandarin and he was able to take us there in about 20 minutes and the fare cost RMB25. Chongqing is much warmer than Chengdu but I found the air quality a bit of a problem. I could sometimes smell foul smell and the air seems polluted. The hotel where I stayed is not too bad, got everything including a microwave oven. The only problem was the noise. The hotel is surrounded by construction going on and you can hear the construction sounds such as knocking and sawing, etc. In front of the hotel is a MRT station and the city center is just about less than 5 minutes walk away. There streets seems to be full of people and you can see shopping complexes all round. The hospital is about 5 minutes walk away. That's the reason why I chose this hotel.

Anyway, I did take some photographs and will upload them later. I am still very tired and spend most of my time in my room resting.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Greetings From Chengdu, China!!

I arrived at Chengdu, China at about 1.15pm local time. The plane arrived early, 25 minutes ahead of schedule. After reading in the forums, I decided to take the official taxi to my hotel. The taxi queue was very long but with so many taxis waiting, I managed to get a taxi very quickly. I told the taxi driver the name of the hotel and he quickly said he knows where it was. I spoke to him using the pinyin because I did not have the Chinese characters of the hotel name. The traffic leading out of the airport was good but as soon as the taxi entered the city center, we were caught in a traffic jam that seemed endless. Every turn that the taxi made, we became part of the jam. By the time I arrived at the hotel, it was already about 3.00pm. After dropping us, we proceeded to the hotel reception only to discover that the hotel that the taxi driver had taken us was not the correct one. Apparently, the hotel that I was going to had the same English pinyin name but differ in Chinese characters .I was feeling hungry and it was way pass lunch time and I am now in a wrong hotel. The hotel staffs were very helpful to ensure this time I would go to the right hotel. The funny thing about my hotel booking is that they have the booking information in both English and Chinese with the exception of the name and address of the hotel. Even the phone number on my hotel confirmation slip was wrong! Luckily, I had a map to the hotel printed and the map contains some roads names in English and some in Chinese. After about 20 minutes of waiting, a taxi came and this time I made sure that the driver knew which hotel I was talking about. After looking at the map, he said no problem. Again, the trip took another hour or so with 40 minutes lost in the traffic jam while trying to get out of the city center.

Finally, at about 3.30pm I arrived at the right hotel and was glad. The taxi driver told me that the jam at the city center is 7 days a week. For the last few days, it has been cloudy in Chengdu and today it is rather sunny. People took advantage of the sunny weather and came out shopping for Christmas and New Year. As such the streets in city center were crowded. The temperature is good at 9°C, not too bad for me. The taxi driver told me that there will be no shopping crowds during the days leading to Chinese New Year. Why? Everyone is at home gambling mahjong!

After checking into the room, I was quite pleased with the hotel, quiet and most importantly the room is  clean though a little small. This hotel is located about 1km from the city center but that made a vast difference. Traffic was sparse and hence not noisy. I then went out for lunch after asking for a recommendation from the hotel reception staff. I was surprised at the place where I went. I still don't know the English or Chinese name of that place but it resembles an ancient movie studio like what you see in the costume movies/TV dramas.Full of ancient looking buildings. I will try to upload some pictures for you to see. I will tell you more of what I discovered while exploring the nearby areas.

I am a little tired and have called it a day, now resting on my bed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chongqing, Here I Come!!

I have been busy, still doing last minute stuff. Got all the errands done in the morning and during lunch time, a friend called and wanted to drop by. We had a quick chat. He said I have not been very active on my blog lately and I said "yes, while in India I was on the move. After I came back, I was recovering from fatigue and therefore did not post that much." Earlier another friend called and wanted to come over in the afternoon but I told her that I would most likely not be at home because I still got some things to do. I have been cramming too many things in the last minute.

Last night I met my group of friends who went India with me and we had supper together. Everyone seems to be happy about the outcome of the India trip. There was also talk of planning a few days driving trip from Kuala Lumpur to Krabi, Thailand. That would be nice.

Well tomorrow, I will be going to Chongqing, China for my HIFU treatment. It has been busy, busy during the last two weeks. I am looking forward to the treatment. Just checked, the temperature at Chongqing is sunny/cloudy, between 6°C and 10°C. I am just wondering if I will have any problems adjusting to that kind of temperature. Anyway, I have adequate clothing and hope things would work out fine for me.

I will try to update my blog and and when possible may  include some photos of some of the areas that I visited in Chongqing. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cancer And Lifestyle

Over 40% of cancers due to lifestyle
Nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK each year - over 130,000 in total - are caused by avoidable life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, a review reveals.Tobacco is the biggest culprit, causing 23% of cases in men and 15.6% in women, says the Cancer Research UK report.

Next comes a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in men's diets, while for women it is being overweight. The report is published in the British Journal of Cancer. Its authors claim it is the most comprehensive analysis to date on the subject.

In total, 14 lifestyle and environmental factors, such as where you live and the job you do, combine to cause 134,000 cancers in the UK each year. About 100,000 (34%) of the cancers are linked to smoking, diet, alcohol and excess weight. One in 25 of cancers is linked to a person's job, such as being exposed to chemicals or asbestos. Some risk factors are well established, such as smoking's link with lung cancer.

But others, like gall bladder cancer, are largely unrelated to lifestyle. The researchers base their calculations on predicted numbers of cases for 18 different types of cancer in 2010, using UK incidence figures for the 15-year period from 1993 to 2007.

In men, 6.1% (9,600) of cancer cases were linked to a lack of fruit and vegetables, 4.9% (7,800) to occupation, 4.6% (7,300) to alcohol, 4.1% (6,500) to overweight and obesity and 3.5% (5,500) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds.

In women, 6.9% (10,800) were linked to overweight and obesity, 3.7% (5,800) to infections such as HPV (which causes most cases of cervical cancer), 3.6% (5,600) to excessive sun exposure and sunbeds, 3.4% (5,300) to lack of fruit and vegetables and 3.3% (5,100) to alcohol.

You can read the full report here.

Bowel cancer screening ‘does cut deaths’

A bowel cancer screening programme in England is on course to cut deaths by a sixth, say researchers studying results from the first million people tested. When results from the first 1.08 million taking part were collated, it was found that 2.5% of men and 1.5% of women had received an abnormal result, and were sent for further tests, usually colonoscopy, in which a tube with a camera on the end is passed into the colon. Among the men with abnormal results, 43% turned out to have either cancer or pre-cancerous growths in their colon. The figure for women was 11.6%. However, the test appeared to be less effective at spotting cancers in the upper section, or "right side" of the colon. 

You can read the full article here.

Cancer 'drives families into debt'

Two-thirds of parents of children with cancer surveyed by a UK cancer charity say they have been forced to borrow money to make ends meet. Of the 245 families interviewed, 76% said that their child's illness had had a major impact on finances with two in three parents experiencing a loss of earnings. The survey was carried out by children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent.