Sunday, February 27, 2011

Living With Cancer

What is life? I have thought about this question for a long time.

When I was young, my grandma (who brought me up) would tell me that life is fated. Whatever will be will be. My life has been predestined. That's why I am born as a Chinese in Malaysia and not an Englishman in England. There are so many that's why. It's determined at the time I was born. As I grew older, I began to doubt this fate theory. It would seems unfair for I could be born as the son of a Sultan and live a life of luxury. But I also see many people suffering, some don't even know whether they will have the next meal or not. I began to ask, who determines all this? Why are some luckier than others? Why are some born smart while some born blind and deaf? Why are some born in poor countries? Why are there so much sufferings?

If I am born in Malaysia and as a Chinese, what is my purpose being here? Of course, some of the answers can be found from religious angles but I am not convinced by some of the answers. There's too many unanswered questions. Later I did chance upon Liao Fan's Four Lessons - Changing Destiny that gave a different perspective view about fate. That I can change my destiny rather than just blame it on fate.

I have always live life as a path or as a friend put's it, stages of life. You are born, get an education, have a career, get married, become parents, get old and then move on. My life is focused on reaching a destination or achieving some result, such as getting educated or have a career to become rich. I end up always planning for the future. I would anticipate the next stage along the path and every action/step that I take is just to achieve another destination. Yes, there are good and hard times along the way. At certain point in time, I reflect what I have achieved in life. Am I happy with my progress and what I achieved?

What is depressing is that I believe I have definitely achieved certain milestones and yet I think I have missed what life is all about. As I reflected more on my "achievements", I realised that all these so called success measurements are all implanted into me by parents. This is followed by peer pressure or community pressure that you must have this or that in order to be called successfully. So all this while, I was just living based on somebody's standards. I am existing but I am not living.

I know the saying life is short. But in my mind, I thought I would live to a ripe old age. Now afflicted cancer, I could just die and that's the end. Is this my life? Is this my purpose of living? Because of my cancer, I am forced to pause for a moment. The thing is that life goes on no matter whether I pause to think about it or not. I realised that as long as I don't change my outlook and the way I live, then life just goes on.

If life is a way I chose to live, then it must involve love, compassion and joy. It's to enjoy this very moment with the people and things around me. That is not to say I do not care about the future. There is so much planning one can do. I realised that the more I connect to people around me, the more I experience love, compassion and joy. My family and friends respond to me as I open myself to them. I find my life becomes much richer and happier.

So, the purpose of life as I discovered is what I make of it. It's purpose is what I define what I want to do. So looking back at what I have done, I don't think I have been successful in the business of living as some people puts it. In short, I am doing other people's bid. Now, I want to live the way I think I want to live, my own terms and I define what is acceptable to me, not my peers or my parents. In that way, I believe I will live a much happier life. Life then is more meaningful and satisfying for me. It's to live a life without regret, the highest level of living.


  1. Obviously, you continue to 'blame; all around you, your parents, friends, etc for what you had become oblivious to the fact that you had your own freedom in choosing what you want to be - you yourself exercised that freedom of choice and now you must live with the fact that you need to move on. Look into yourself and learn to forgive yourself then you will love more around you.

    You seem to be contradicting yourself in saying others are to take responsibility to what you have become, yet you say that life is what you make of it.

    There seem to be unforgiveness, struggles, contradictions within you no matter how much you try to camouflage this with the lies of you living on your own terms.

    You can start by being honest with yourself and showing much more respect and thoughtfulness to those who have and will continue to love you - your parents, sisters, etc.

    Your real happiness depends on this..your healing too.

    I think you are still missing the whole point of life and living.

  2. Yup, agreed. Sorry to say that I sense that the big EGO is still there.

  3. CT,

    Question: What happens when you close your eyes for the last time? Are you prepared for what's on the other side? Where is God in your life?

    You are fully in charge?

    A lot of "me" but not enough of the Divine. You are still not mindful enough.

  4. I am indeed puzzled with the comments of the first anonymous reader. He/she seems to know about me and my family quite well. I think I need to make some clarification.

    I don't think I blame my parents because I think they look after my best interest at heart. What I am trying to say is that in those days, I did not have the realisation that I could take different choices. Of course, If I had the realisation then, would I have chosen differently? Maybe I would still have still taken the same decision. The fact is now I am taking responsibility of my decision and my paying the price for them.

    The events happened at different time zones and the contradiction highlights my realisation. If there are no contradictions, I would have continue to do what I did. That's why I chose to change now, hopefully its not too late.

    I find it amusing that he/she can say "showing much more respect and thoughtfulness to those who have and will continue to love you - your parents, sisters, etc". Perhaps you would like to own up who you are and then I can understand if you do indeed have the knowledge to come to this conclusion or it is a mere assumption or conjecture from some knowledge of psychology?

    What is interesting is your last sentence "I think you are still missing the whole point of life and living." You are certainly entitled to your opinion on how you want to live your own life. Your sentence just reminds me of what my parents wanted me to live my life in my early days. But I don't have to live by your standards.

  5. CT,

    When you blog, this is the risk you open to take. Sometimes, you see comments like these. Nevertheless, its best to ignore them. Comments and reactions are merely a reflection of the diversity of people reading your blog, some of whom are unable to express clearly what they mean. Similarly, they in what the blogger is conveying.

    I guess that's the limitations of our communication across the globe.

    Take what is good and leave the rest behind. Life is like that sometimes. Exactly what is life, who knows. Does it matter?

    Given the benefit of the doubt, I would like to think that people care and sometimes we all misinterprete. That's what complicates this simple life sometimes. We all become too reactive.


  6. CT,

    I agree with don't have to live by someone else standards!

    we (the ones with the cancer-personality) are conditioned from birth to always try to please everyone, except ourselves. We are always trying to live up too everyone else standards, and expectations for us. It seems that a lot of the overly religious people use this to their advantage; "always trying to control and make you feel the name of religion."
    I am happy you have stood up and told them..."It's your life," and to let you live it "your way!"
    Remember: "you must learn too love yourself first" order to love others; if you don't love yourself..."how can you love others?"

    "Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful, lest you let other people spend it for you." - - Carl Sandburg

    My Thoughts Are With You,

  7. Hi Chang

    I have been reading your blog almost every weekend and today, I chose to take sometime away from my projects. Yes I do have a proposal to work on but decided to start the day with your blog and also, to find some answers for my sister's health problems, not something serious as cancer but something bad enough to make her every day miserable - some form of rash.
    Interestingly I was just having lunch with a friend yesterday and I told him, I wander what is life all about. How should I live my life in months to come and am about to reach 50. Tommorrow may not come...
    My answer for now is to make more time spending my life doing things for people around me be it my sisters, brother, husband and children, nieces, nephews, friends or even acquaintance...even the reception desk clerk in my club who recently have heart attack and u, dear. It is giving...not just money, but even a smile, a hello, a how-r-u-today.....
    In return that someone will feel happy...that someone feel comforted.
    Thanks Chang...u r very much on ur mind because u hve given us alot....