Sunday, February 13, 2011

Flashback: First Twelve Months (Part 2)

Today I begin my 18th month in therapy. I believe more excitements awaits me along the journey. There is only one way, forward!

The First 60 days (cont...)
The Gerson book recommended the Norwalk juicer but I could not find a distributor in Malaysia. Subsequently I found the Greenpower juicer and settled for that. I was also not sure if I could sustain on the Gerson diet of no salt, no sugar, no oil and low protein diet. Meanwhile, I found a MLM company that sells some of the Gerson supplements and the enema set.

October 2009 was a very difficult month for me. I had just started on the Gerson diet but found the enema difficult to do. I just could not bring myself insert a tube into my anus. I really struggled for a few days before I finally found the courage to do it. I had very little problem drinking the juices except that the green juices. The lunch and dinner was almost impossible to eat. I can take without sugar and oil but no salt? It's like eating grass. Every mouthful was a drag but I told myself I got no choice. To make the transition easier, I ate apple and guava alongside. Of course, it was slightly easier to eat after that. I ate as much as I could but meanwhile, I continue to loose weight. I was beginning to lose some hope and thought to myself, perhaps the end is near.

I happened to watch the movie The Bucket List. It was a timely watch as I learned how two men (played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) cope with cancer. I also drew my own bucket list. But I had only a few items on my list to do given so short time left and they are:
1. To take a pilgrimage trip to India and Nepal.
2. Visit Tibet (including Everest Base camp) and
3. Take a journey along the Silk Road

My body was deteriorating by the day. At this time, what my doctors said to me echoed through my mind. Take care of your personal affairs, travel to any place you want to visit and eat whatever food your heart desires and then prepare to move on. Don't worry, I have all the medications to help you manage the pain. I was in a very pathetic situation.

I thought to myself, luckily I took the Hangzhou trip as some of my friends was not sure if I should go. The trip was difficult for me because I had to endure some needle like pain all over my ribs. Although my doctor had prescribed some pain killers, I did not take any of them. I booked a hotel that was close to West Lake, about 15 minutes walk. I thought, this could be my last trip, so may as well enjoy. I left my cancer back home. Together with my wife, we explored parts of Hangzhou. We spent a lot of time walking and eating all over the place, basically where locals would eat. Although I can speak Mandarin, I could only read and write a little. So it was quite fun looking for food, taking public transport and finding places to visit. We did not take any taxi but instead preferred to travel by bus after reading many tourists were fleeced by taxi touts. After one day of fumbling, we finally managed to understand the bus system. We visited many of the tourist spots along or surrounding West Lake. It was really tiring for me and by the end of the third day of the five day trip, my legs was aching.

By now I think I have lost another 3kgs and I cannot sit on hard surfaces. Even sitting on soft cushion becomes painful. I thought I should go for my pilgrimage trip while I can still walk and planned the trip to happen in early December 2009. My family members were worried about the diet I was taking as I had become quite thin and suggested that I should consider removing the kidney tumor. I was not too keen because all my urologist's patients died within 6 months of operation. Why spent two months on bed recovering if I am going to die anyway? May as well utilise the time and spent with my family members and travel a little while I still can.

November and December 2009
By November my weight has stabilised somewhat but I was still very weak. I could not walk for long and was worried if I can sustain for 9 days of the pilgrimage trip. There will be so much walking and carrying my backpack. It's almost three months and I still have not told my parents. Earlier I told them I got to stop work because during a medical checkup, the doctors discovered a growth on my right kidney. During this period, I slowly talk to them about the subject of cancer and finally I decided to tell. My mother took it badly blaming herself for the food she cooked that caused me to have cancer. I told her if that's the case, then it would be likely my brother and sisters would also be having cancer. But they did not. So it has nothing to do with the food made by her. I explained to her from the Buddhist point, that part of it is due to my own past karma.

Based on the trip plan made by a friend, my whole family (wife and three kids) went for a pilgrimage to India and Nepal backpacking style. It was really fun and I did not experience any problems. I suspended Gerson therapy and went on normal vegetarian food. The food, although simple was really good. The temples were awesome and inspiring. I really like India and vowed to make future visits if I have the opportunity.

My wife took a different view of my cancer. She felt that my life sustaining karma will not be ending so soon. She also thought that by helping me, my condition would deteriorate as I would become too dependent and lose hope. So I ended up most of the time supporting myself. My mother offered to help me prepare lunch and dinner.

To be continued...


  1. CT,
    Your wife must know you so well and know that you do not want practical help. She, in her wisdom refrained from helping you for your own good. She must be providing you all the emotional support and love that you need to get you through this. She must be an angel and your rock and your strength. I hope you are thankful to her and realise how fortunate a husband you are.

    Without her by your side, how would you have got through these past months?

  2. Dear Chang

    It is good that you are reflecting the past 18 months. I am a person who strongly believes in family love and support. From your blog today, I am so glad to see that you indeed had a good time with your family - wife ad 3 children. The trip to Hangzhou with your wife was particularly impressed me. It was a difficult trip according to you and I also can visualise it. However, I believe your wife had given you support and care that the trip was memorable. I reckon you will reflect what had happened and those moments both of you walked around the lake and fumbled on the bus. Needless to say, it was more meaningful when you and your whole famiy were in India doing backpacking. I am very sure your children and especially your wife understand you and are willing to support you. You need this definitely to go through another 18 months at least.

    Chang, tomorrow is Valentine Day. I believe you will do something.

    Happy Valentine Day!

    One Family

  3. Hi Chang,
    I hope as you walked down memory lane, you also re-pick up those strong emotion and strong will in your journey to face this disease.

    It is also especially good if you can also recall those loving feelings from family during the difficult period. Would like to highlight that your family members have also had doubts and worries. They have to be careful what to say or show to you, wondering how to keep you motivated to go on the next day, they are also careful not to show you their doubts and worries fir fear it may affect your emotion and enthusiasm. Most of all being a spouse, the one who is closest to you is most stressed. Some may choose to take the so-called denial attitude ... Like nothing has or will happen... Others may breakdown and cry every day.

    Whatever reaction they take, you understand that they all love you. So spend some time to love them, for love indeed is a miracle. All fairytales says that ... In love.... Live happily ever after...

    Take Care

    From Bee Tin

  4. Dear CT,

    I understand you are a Buddhist. Is your spouse view that you have 'life sustaining karma' a common Buddhist view to a cancer patient? And is it the Buddhist practice to refrain helping? Does your wife refrain in daily activities or in all manner of helping, emotional and spiritual? I read of Buddhist organisations helping the sick and poor. I am confused about Buddhism after reading your post.
    How do you feel about your wife's view? Do you agree with her?

  5. Dear Friend,

    From Buddhist point of view, life sustaining karma is a type of karma which applies to all persons, not just cancer patients.

    Just because one Buddhist does not help, it does not mean all Buddhist are like that.

    All religions teaches good and yet we know such people of whatever religions commit crime. Does it mean that religion is no good? Do not be confused. It has nothing to do with the religion.