Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Drop In The Ocean

Many people say, its just one drop in the ocean, makes no difference. But do you know that after that drop, the ocean has an extra drop. It's no longer the same, it did make a difference, YOU. If each of us just make a drop, there will 7 billion extra drops in the ocean! That's a lot of drops. So don't say your drop is not important.

Switch off all your non essential lights for at least an hour only.

Love Earth. Love yourself!
Then Go Beyond The Earth Hour

Friday, March 30, 2012

It's All In The Mind

My cough is getting worst. I am not sure if it's the orange I took but I feel a lot more phlegm around my throat area. Again I will trust my TCM pills to clear out the phlegm. I am  not feeling very positive this morning. Maybe the pain around my abdominal area has made it worst. I just don't feel like doing anything including talking. I just sat on the couch, holding a large pillow brooding again. My thoughts, like the monkey running around uncontrolled. One quick way of getting out of this hole is taking a pain killer. It does a wonderful job. No pain, the mind settles down. Mediation is my preferred tool to calm the mind and hence the pain or whatever negative emotions. The mind is the chief.

This morning I got up a little late. I did not hear the alarm bell ring. I was tired and wanted to sleep longer. It was drizzling when I woke up. The dark clouds and the rainy weather contributes to my depressive mood. When the rain stopped, I went out for short walk around the neighborhood. As I reached the junction of the main road, I could see streams of cars heading towards the highway. Everybody is rushing and seems to be going somewhere, for meeting, for work, for leisure or whatever. I have dropped out of the rat race. Life takes a leisurely turn notwithstanding my illness. I have all the time now to observe the flowers, the birds and the children playing around. What a difference it makes.

Since this is Qing Ming month, I will tell you some stories about a steel bridge. A short distance from my house, is a steel bridge that spans across the Kesas highway.  My youngest daughter uses the bridge quite a lot, especially after school. She told me many times that about 50m away from the bridge, she could see a young lady dressed in pink waiting along the highway around 6pm. But when I try to see, I could not see anything. My youngest daughter has this ability see the other side but it does not happen often. My mother's friend also uses the steel bridge. One afternoon, as she was crossing the bridge, she met an old lady friend and exchanged pleasantries. Later she told my mother about meeting this old friend. My mother told her that this old lady has passed away a few months ago. Since then many people are afraid to use the bridge. Why are people afraid?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

So Near Yet So Far

I have more or less decided what I want to do for my next therapies. I will continue to use Gerson diet and the juice about 6 times a day. However, I will be phasing out some of the supplements, maintaining CO-Q10, liver and pancreatin only. I have added germanium, melatonin supplements and cimetidine drug as part of the therapy. I have also decided to add the following off label drugs into my therapy namely ibandronate, cyclophosphamine and IL-2 (Interleukin-2). As such, I will postpone my visit to German for the hyperthermia therapy for the time being. The cyclophosphamine drug is for the metronomic chemo therapy while the ibandronate drug is for the gammadelta therapy. The gammadelta therapy and IL-2 is to enhance the immune system. The metronomic chemo therapy is not only for antitumour efficacy with very low toxicity, but also in a cell target switch, now aiming at tumour endothelial cells. There is a minor problem as I have yet to get my hands on two drugs. The IL-2 which requires special packaging to maintain the temperature of between 2°C-8°C. The source of this drug is either from China and Taiwan. The problem is how to ship the drug back home and not sure if I can get custom clearance. I have ordered the cyclophosphamine but I am not sure if I can get it or not. So it's still work in progress and need to do a lot more work before I can actually start the new therapies.

I have been coughing a little bit today and I noticed a little blood clot in my phlegm. The pain on my abdominal area and my right leg seems to be holding. I am taking a pain killer a day to help manage the pain. It's almost the end of March 2012 but healing has not shown any sign of improvement. I can only wait and cultivate my patience.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Seeing Things As They Are

I was rather busy today. Woke up rather early this morning at about 5am but I was still sleepy. Finally got out of bed half an hour later. My brother came over at 5.50am. We headed over to the graveyard about 30km away. We reached my grandfather's grave at about 6.15am. It was rather dark and we had to use the torchlight. I look around and not a soul in sight other than my family. Your mind can run wild and start imagining. My grandfather's graveyard area is the old type (more than 100 years old), so it can give you the eerie feeling. All the horror movies that I watched starts to come into play. But then I told myself. I didn't kill anyone why should I be afraid? Furthermore, it's my grandfather's grave, I should feel safe. But it's also inevitable that I think about death when at this kind of place. I am always aware of death.

In a 2009 study at the University of Missouri, the researches tested the interplay between death awareness and the value placed on life. Specifically, they applied the scarcity principle (that when something is perceived as more rare, it rises in value) to hypothesize that death awareness should heighten the value of life by heightening awareness of life's scarcity. Three studies were undertaken. The results of the studies suggest that the value given to life is intricately linked to thoughts of death. When people value life more, death thoughts are higher. And, when people are thinking about death, they believe life is more meaningful.

I think death awareness does not come automatically to all cancer patients. This is because after the initial cancer diagnosis, some patients sink into depression and don't recover. I believe those cancer patients who has embraced and accepted the cancer as part of their life then their life will be much happier and also more positive most of the time. I also believe there are many cancer patients like me and many more happier than me. Accepted and make the best out of it. With this death awareness, we then try to make the best out of out life. Do something meaningful. Isn't that a very good quality of life?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reconnecting With Self

The other day, I was having a long chat with a friend about the past. Most of us carry the past baggage with us. When you are carrying so much baggage, how can you move forward to the present? I knew the past, I knew the good part and also the part where I went wrong. When you go back to the past, you want to go back and dwell on the good past feeling, imagining how my life would have been if you did this or that. And so long as I continue to dwell in the past wishing things were different, I wasn't getting anywhere. This could be career, love life, education, lost opportunities and getting cancer. When we cannot get the life we want in reality, we go back to the past and fantasize about it. Some form of escapism.

I think the key to moving on is acceptance of the ways things are now. There are somethings you can still do. Change the way you live your life in future. You can also change your job, your home, your car and even your spouse. But there are some things that cannot be changed. You can't change what happened in the past and you can't say I have no cancer. The idea is to focus on now, the present. Don't worry if the past will repeat itself. Lessons will have been learned. No point screaming and kicking what should have been. If possible, remove "should" from the vocabulary and never make a sentence with the word anymore. Forgive myself and move forward.

There will never be a right circumstances because life is not perfect. It's not about perfection but how to live in such imperfect circumstances and make the best out of it. Why are we so obsessed with being right? Because we project an identity image to everyone around us and protect our ego. Even in cancer treatment, we want the right treatment. Is there a right treatment? If I reflect on the important areas, aspects, and relationships in my life right now, I can see how I overly focused on being right so much so things turn out wrong. I suppose the answer to unlock this problem is to be real rather than being right. Being real of my own shortcomings, anger, fear, expectations and everything I do. Live a simpler life and be much happier.

I received an email from a friend and she gave to much credit as if I was a guru. I am just a beginner. Actually, my cancer has brought me awareness and it was a life changing experience for me. A psychologist said it is through service to others that we can most easily produce transformative changes--not only in those we help, but also in ourselves. Another friend complained. To slow. You never change. But I have taken the first step.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Doomed To Repeat

Yesterday, I received two emails, one from a friend and another from a reader but their theme of the emails are the same. Someone close they know has cancer. In the first email, it was a new case of prostate cancer of a 61 year old man from Perth. In the second email, it was a breast cancer relapse after many years ago. The gentleman wrote "... And all the medication she has been takin was not effective. Now, she is undergoing chemo. Even her first 3 chemo were ineffective and now they have to try another form of stronger chemo. Reading what u write somehow gives me strength to face this situation. I never expected this to happen to the person I love most in my life, and when i found out, i was just devastated." Finding out someone close to you have cancer is probably as hard to take as the cancer patient himself or herself. I am glad to be able to help, offering some comfort and also some suggestions. But I think it is equally important that healthy people be aware of cancer, the conventional and alternative treatments available. Often, when you start to read and find out then, it's not going to be easy with all those emotions running in the head. Please do not take things for granted. This is not to mean that one of your close one is going to have cancer. I hope and pray that nobody else get cancer in this world. Although that is wishful thinking, but I think, its still a dedication that I would like to make.

Yesterday, I also received another email from a regular reader who told me that she has been using IL-2 which is sourced from China at a fraction of the cost that I reported. She has been administering IL-2  to her mum on a daily basis. I am encouraged by the news and has sought her help through her uncle (another cancer survivor in remission) who is going to China to procure the medication. Once I get the details, I will email my friend in Hong Kong for some suggestion and as well as my doctor in New York for confirmation.

I have been on Melatonin for two nights already and I don't particular find it helpful in getting me to sleep faster. Maybe that is because I took only 2.5mg per night. I can sleep on my own without any aid.

How time flies. Around the corner is Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day or All Souls Day which falls on 4th April, 2012 (normally on 5th April). I have been visiting my grandfather's grave since I was a little kid and since 1991, my grandmother's grave as well. My parents have decided to perform Qing Ming Wednesday morning at 6am. Like last year, this year I will also go. Going to the graveyard early morning is challenging, especially in the olden days when trees and overgrown shrubs covers the ground and graves. Also the slightest sound, one's heartbeat would pound. But as I grew older, I began to have no fear of the dark places.  Qing Ming is actually a gathering of descendants who will normally converge and perform ancestral worship. Now days, what used to be a solemn gathering has turned into a celebration. Lots of food to eat, laughing and even playing with firecrackers. If I were six feet underground, I also would like them to celebrate life. Anyway, my ashes will be thrown somewhere in Cameron Highlands where I can roam the highlands freely, go to that part of the highlands that I have never been. No grave for me. Never like to be boxed up.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Ever since I was diagnosed with late stage cancer my life changed for the worst. My health continued to deteriorate as the days passed. I did some therapy that I believe that would helped me and meanwhile hope for the best. No matter how you look at it, life will never be the same. I spent much of my time in my pre-cancer days on work and being involved in the financial services industry, the hours are long. I entered the work market at a time when the economy was declining and later it went into recession in 1984. Work was difficult to get, but I was lucky to be gainfully employed. Not so for some of my friends. During the early part of my career before I got married, my hours are long, working up to 11pm and 6pm on Saturdays. After 1990, the economy started to recover and the stock market had a bull run in 1992/93 where almost everybody gave up their jobs to become daily investor. Everybody made money, no matter which stock you touch. Many of my friends left their banking work to become remisiers. I have just completed my British accountancy examination then. As I climbed the corporate ladder, my hours became a little shorter. I leave for work at 6.30am and back at home at 8.30pm if no entertainment. After taking my dinner and bath, it would be past 9.30pm. I devote every Wednesday for jogging where I will leave work at 6pm. I love jogging because besides sweating it out, I also get to de-stress.

The routine continues and years passed.  Neglecting my own health, now I have cancer. I don't think cancer people are happy people, especially those who have late stage cancer like me. How can they be? Can I live happily as in my non cancer days? Personally I don't think so and there is no need to feel so. No need to think about the future, because tomorrow is not here yet. So I live in the present. Today. So I make the best of it. First being able to be live an extra day is already very good. I am very happy about it. Within the day, I feel happy about certain things. Like my daughter told me she got the highest marks for add-math in class. When she passed her grade 8 piano exams. I feel happy when I experience no pain. I feel happy being able to talk and meet up to chat with friends. When my friend got a promotion. A cancer friend reported improvement after treatment. Able to spent time with family members. When friends visit. When I can drive and travel around. Nothing complicated, any positive outcome, I would be happy. Suddenly, my world is now child like, simple needs. Enjoy simpler things in life.

Of course, there are other heavy stuffs to work on also. Are there sufficient finances? To work on negative emotions. Work on the therapy to improve my health. To work on my own spirituality development. Improve relationship with family members. More importantly, reflect on self and improve to become a better person.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's a Drug's Life

A new day and I am starting to introduce a new drug into my therapy. The over the counter drug I am going to take is called cimetidine and you can read more here. The dosage is one tablet of 400mg, twice a day. For me, the purpose is mainly to prevent further cancer spread. Studies showed that cimetidine functions via several different pathways to inhibit tumor cell proliferation and metastasis.

Since cimetidine’s anti-cancer effects were first reported, scientists have proposed several hypotheses to explain how the drug works. Cimetidine’s potential mechanisms of action include:
  • modulating the body’s immune response (immunomodulation)
  • interfering with tumor growth
  • inhibiting tumor cell migration and metastasis.
Anyway, I will be trying this drug for three months and monitor for any side effects. There should not be any major side effects. 

At the same time, I am also taking Melatonin supplement. I just got my supply from Walmart, USA. I will write about Melatonin cancer treatment in a subsequent post. Most people are likely to associate melatonin with a hormone that helps people sleep better or prevents jet lag.  Few people realize that melatonin is a cancer-killing hormone that can enhance the human immune system, protect against the toxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and improve wound healing after cancer surgery. Even fewer are aware of ongoing clinical trials in which melatonin is being used to help cancer patients better manage their disease symptoms, improve their quality of life, and even increase their survival rates. 

I have also ordered another drug, ibandronate from my pharmacy. Oral ibandronate for the treatment of metastatic bone disease, in my case spread to my left knee joint. I have also asked the pharmacist to see if they can supply IL-2 (interleukin-2) as well, failing which I may have to get the supply from Taiwan.

More and more drugs are coming into my life. Conventional off label drugs but they don't come under mainstream conventional cancer therapy. Usually, they have very little or no side effects. They are also not expensive (except for IL-2 reported to cost US$500 per dose).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Trying Too Hard

Since my China trip and kidney tumor ablation, I have been struggling hard to deal with the subtle changes in my body and mind. Whatever is happening to the body will affect the mind. Theoretically, the tumor ablation is supposed to reduce a large amount of tumors in my body. I am not sure about his because I still feel weak as if the tumor played a positive function in my body. The non invasive surgery is supposed to be less painful and recovery is much faster. I am not saying it's not but somehow for me, I feel the pain that I am experience now is greater than when I completed the HIFU treatment. Shouldn't it be the other way round? My China doctors has warned me that this could happen and I just couldn't believe that it's happening to me two months later. I thought over time, the wound should recover and I should feel better and better. But I am not and I am doubting and trying to understand why. The doctors said, if I experience pain, then just take some pain killers.

Maybe I am impatient and expected my body to recover faster. I thought my body is still strong but maybe I am wrong. After a while, self doubt comes in. Coupled with my depressive state of mind, it can be hard to take. Maybe this is because I put much  much hope in the HIFU treatment and I have yet to see or taste the results. At times, I do believe my body has become stronger but when the pain sets in, I just interpret differently. Such a fickle mind. I know these type of thinking can be insidious but I just can't help it.

In the mist of all these, a friend called to check on me. She has been calling me every now and then giving me words of encouragement and telling me of any new cancer remedies. It's always nice to hear some words of encouragement when things are not running that well.

Last few days, my appetite has not been good. Maybe I am losing my appetite. Even after getting up in the morning, I don't feel hungry. During lunch time, I don't feel like eating. Same goes for dinner time, even though I feel hungry, I just don't feel like eating. Sigh...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Following With The Wind

It's so unpredictable. Yesterday I was fine and today I am not. This morning, I was awaken by the pain on my abdomen. The pain arises from a pull as I stretched my body unconsciously during sleep. I was feeling real lousy. After brushing my teeth, I went downstairs to sit on the couch and curl up to ease my abdominal pain. After breakfast, I took a pain killer. I was taking about having little abdominal pain yesterday and there I am rewarded with a more painful experience today. Never talk about the devil at night. Pain seems to be one of the theme of my blog. I guess when you have cancer you can't avoid talking about pain. The struggle we go everyday as we try to put a smile on our face versus the pain we experience in the background.

Since my illness, I have never spent so much time watching TV, especially on documentaries. But after a while, you get tired of it. Surfing the net, you also get tired of it. If you do the same things everyday, you get tired of it. So I have also been spending a lot of time reading, not stories books but health books. Actually, during one of the book distributor's warehouse sale, I bought over 20 story books but did not read any of them. At times, I feel I don't have enough concentration to read continuously. And also feeling tired after a while. Boredom sets in. Listen to songs for a change. I will set sometime to read the books I bought.

Despite being English educated, I have a penchant for listening to Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakka country songs. Occasionally, I will also listen to Hokkien songs if I do come across one that I like as I am not fluent in the Hokkien dialect. This Hokkien song that I am taking about is sung by the Taiwanese pop rock group Sodagreen (蘇打綠). This song titled No Sleep (無眠) rendition is the same as the Mandarin version of the same title which peaked at number 84 on Hit Fm Taiwan's Hit Fm Annual Top 100 Singles Chart (Hit-Fm年度百首單曲) for 2010. I hope you like it and pay particular attention to the poetic lyrics. Did the song made you cry?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Time is Now!

I find that music is one of the best way to maintain my emotional balance. The truth is that it's so difficult to continue to maintain a positive balance. As I was writing today's post, I was listening to Garth Brook's If Tomorrow Never Comes. Strangely, that was the title of yesterday's post but I was not listening to the song then. Written in 1989, I just love the soft guitar solo opening before graduating into full music accompaniment. Grath's voice was just beautiful! Already feel so much better now.

I had a visitor this morning, a regular reader of my blog. I met Jasmine about two years ago when I was buying some vegetables at the organic shop. Later, I learned that she was breast cancer survivor. A cheerful lady and despite her busy schedule running a noodle shop, she took time off and visited me every now and then. Brought some vegetables, dumpling and also some water crest - red dates soup. She also loaned some reading materials from her personal collection. Thanks for your support. I appreciate it very much.

The last few days, I am getting this feverish feeling back. My forehead seems warm but I don't have a fever temperature. Maybe it's the hot weather. Despite the kidney tumor ablation, I still feel there are some lumpy matters still underneath my right abdominal area. Got some pain when I lie flat on the bed. So I had to sleep on my left side. The pain is less apparent when I am sitting but after long hours, my back seems to hurt a bit. So got to lie down flat to straighten my back a bit. I am also coughing back but so far no signs of blood clots in phlegm. I will take some TCM pills to manage my cough to prevent it from getting worst. Experiencing some loss of appetite today. Could not finish 25% of lunch. Will take some oat milk instead.

I have not heard from my lung cancer friend who was warded in UH since 29 February 2012. I am worried but I have no other way of contacting her other than through messaging. I should have visited her the week before she was warded even though she can't talk. Sending positive thoughts to her. Another should have. Sigh...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If Tomorrow Never Comes

Allow me to blow my own trumpet a bit today. It's helps to push my depression away. I received an email from my TCM classmate (a breast cancer survivor) yesterday and this is what she wrote:

... I have asked  a few of my cancer friends to read ur blog & they, like me , are inspire by your struggle & strength. 
You may not know this but you have made an impact into our lives, ESP the ones with cancer!!

She just made my day. Yeah....

I never thought I would live that long. But when I did not die after the first six months, I began to have some hope. But each hope brings in more expectations and when the results does not come, I sink deeper into obliviation. Because the hopes become meaningless. It becomes a painful experience so much so you don't want to hope or try therapies anymore. Then you also start not to think that much into the future because the future is the present. Though I do plan what to do, I am actually living day to day. Each days as it comes, I have a new experience. I change my plan depending on my own condition. My mind slowly becomes conditioned to the unsettling nature of my illness, not to expect too much from the therapies. Not to expect tomorrow will come automatically for me. When there is less expectation, the heart settles down, the mind become more rational. This does not mean that I am giving up. Still, I allow a small part of me to die everyday. It's OK, I would tell myself. Not to be so attached to life. This is inevitable because if I find myself in a situation where I will say die within the next few days, I don't think my mind would be able to handle that development as I am not adequately prepared for it. So by preparing for the eventuality, I feel happier because each day I survive, it becomes a bonus.

People say time passes quickly when you have fun. Despite all those positive thinking, passing each day is not easy. The mind is always fighting to maintain the positive equilibrium. Consider this simple exercise. Remind yourself to smile throughout the day, everyday. Now, how does that feel? Was it easy to do? It's like revving the car engine continuously, sooner or later your legs will run out of steam. I do allow myself to stew in negative thoughts pockets. A taste of sadness allows me to appreciate the happiness more, not to take it for granted because it does not come automatically. It has to be worked for. Having said that, sadness can easily lead into the self pity trap. When in this mode, the mind feeds on the sadness and refuses to leave. Consumed by self pity, the mind delights to maintain a childlike wish to be dependent, and the heart desires the need for someone to comfort. It's difficult to draw a fine line when the sadness limit is crossed because we are emotional beings. Yet we look forward to the next day, if it comes. Because this world is so beautiful.

I would like to share with you a beautiful song, Streets of London by Ralph Mctell. After hearing this song, I feel ashamed to complain about my life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Eureka: Is It?

I am still troubled by the little pain on my right abdominal area. I did not have this problem when I was in China nor when I first came back home. This problem only started around the same time I managed to sleep well. Every time I lie down on the bed, I would feel a pull in the muscle of the right abdominal area and followed by a dull pain. I will run my fingers over the abdominal area to message it a little. It help's to reduce the pain. I can't do a full stretch on that area yet.

A reader from Hong Kong has been helping me out with the therapies that I intend to do. Not only that, she also gave me information where I can get some of the treatments. I think my next assignment, sounds pathetic isn't it, is to look for clinics and hospitals that will be able to offer the treatments. Finding this and finding that, always finding. I think if I had not started this blog, my journey would have been even more difficult. Many readers have written to me with therapy suggestions, some of them which I took, some I did not. I also can't be traveling to different clinics in different country. Even if money was not the problem, I would not be able to withstand the demands of such frequent travel. Therefore, I hope to be able to integrate two or three therapies that I can do together. Looks like I may have to look for (so what's new) and persuade some oncologist to take my case and help me administer the therapies should I decide to proceed. Well there is China.

A cancer friend who writes to me occasionally and she said that cancer patients should support each other. I could not agree more. If you are on alternative and not mainstream therapies, having a good connection with other cancer patients is a must. It will you save a lot of leg work, frustration and tears.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. I would like to thank a friend from Prai, Penang. Last weekend, she took the trouble to arrange for dana (alms) in my name for some monks at a temple in Bukit Mertajam. Thank you so much.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Easy To Say

Cancer patients have only one way to behave that is to be positive most of the time. This is because when one has been diagnosed with cancer, the only thing that keep ringing in the mind is death. It's so difficult to change the way of one's thinking. The other day a friend told me there was this man, aged 79 who had cancer and told his son "I don't want to die". This man was not happy. But if he had chosen to accept his condition, live life to his best, not bothering when the end is coming he would have a much happier time. The students knows that if they study hard, it's highly possible to get straights As. But why are they still not studying? Because it's easy to say.

Just hours ago, I received an email of a reader from India. He related his father's cancer to me and his current condition. He wanted me to give suggestions on what type of other therapies that are less invasive and available to his father. I replied the email with some suggestions. I would only suggest therapies that I would do myself.

Now, I am faced with the same problem of deciding what therapies to do for myself. I have some therapies in mind but not sure if they are correct for me. Why is it so difficult? Because I am afraid to die. I have spoken to my brother and he has given me some pointers but stop short of supporting this or that therapy. I guess when it comes to decision of life and death, there are no friends or close ones who is willing to suggest to me. I am thinking of getting away for a few days to be alone to think what I should to do. Away from my normal routine and the people who surrounds me everyday. I need to have a clear mind because these therapies that I am considering are very new to me. I once read in a cancer book, the cancer patient has to face his or her death alone. It does not matter how many people are by his or her side.  As in the past, people, even closed ones are afraid to give their opinion. Maybe they felt that I would not listen to their opinions, so why waste time. A friend even suggested that I don't trust people other than myself when selecting therapy. I guess there are some truth in what they are saying. Maybe I was looking for their approval. If it's inline with what I intend to do. I don't know. Perhaps it's true. This time round, I am really on unfamiliar territory. Come to think of it, the first time was also unfamiliar. I just have to trust my instincts.

Just when I was updating this post, Mariah Carey's Hero was playing in the background. There's a hero. If you look inside your heart. You don't have to be afraid. Of what you are. There's an answer...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Night Fever

Since more than two weeks ago, I have been able sleep quite well. All of a sudden my biorhythm/circadian rhythms seems to be back to normal without any assistance of drugs or supplements. In fact, through my brother's friend in Singapore, I have bought two bottles of melatonin to aid in my sleep but now it seems I no longer needed that. One reader wrote and said melatonin can also be used to treat cancer and I will have read up more on that. One of the changes that I noted since I was able to sleep was that my health has improved. I think I have gained back weight in one of the most unlikely areas, my chest area. At least now, the ribs are not so visible anymore. Somehow I feel my general well being has improved. My voice too has improved, at least it is not breaking up so easily. I can breath deeper now. I am not sure if this also has to do with Germanium supplements that I have been taking for the past one and a half months and/or the Homeopathy remedy that I have been taking for the past one month. I feel like going to a disco tonight! Thanks to the friends who have taken the trouble to visit me.

Now, I wait for my HIFU surgery to heal completely. There is still some pain in the right abdominal area. After this, I will treat my lumbar spine problem and hopefully, I will be able to walk normal again. So far so good. Meanwhile, I will continue to read up some of the therapies that I intend to do. One thing is quite clear, those therapies that I intend to do are not available in Malaysia. Checked with many doctors and all of them have not heard about those therapies. My mood is improving and I think my bout of depression will soon be over.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Time For Us

Just after I published yesterday's post, I received an email from a reader and she wrote "... really respect your positive attitude. Wish my mom have a positive attitude like you. Her cancer recurred and dr says cant do another radiation. 2 choice either leave it then will be a year or two but she will have lots of phelgm. Or surgery but her age afraid she cant take it..." I can't stress enough that what the doctor's recommendation is only what they have learned. They have no reason to look further because they will be afraid that if they recommend any other treatment and the patient dies, they not only lose their medical license but also sued by the next of kin of the patients. I have been told there is nothing the doctors can do for me anymore. I was just like many of the other cancer patients, scared to hell, don't know what to do and of course crying myself out. When the tears stop, when the reality comes back, I realised that I still have to continue to live even if it meant a short six months. I can just surrender to my fate or do something in the hope that my health would take a better turn.

Let me share with you an uplifting story from a reader from Hong Kong and she wrote:

... my brother-in-law had B cell lymphoma 3 years ago. He was rather advanced when diagnosed. He refused all conventional treatment and went online to search for alternative treatment. He has tried a lot of things but his cancer continued to progress. It's around 1 year later he had lymph nodes all over his body, especially around his neck and he could barely talk. He had lost 1/4 of his weight, his eyes were protruding out and finally he could hardly swallow and breathe and we all thought he was dying. Then he gave in and started the chemotherapy. Only after one does the lymph nodes around his neck began to subside. After 8 courses his lymphoma all cleared up.
I am not asking you to take conventional chemo as I know kidney cancer doesn't respond much to it. What I want to say is, no matter how far and wide your cancer has spread, you just need one right treatment then it can turn your illness around (emphasis my own)

Selecting the right therapy is certainly not going to be easy. But if you give up, what happens to your love ones? I am a little lucky because I am a bit younger and also a technical person. But still I am no doctor. I also struggle to understand many of the materials, often referring to the medical dictionary to help me understand what's going on. I have not found the "one right therapy" yet but I am not giving up. I experienced physical and emotional pain just like any other cancer patient. Still I prefer to wipe away my tears, confront and come to terms with my medical condition. Continue to search (with the help of so many readers out there). Feel sad once in a while, cry if you must but please don't give up! Seek and you will find.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Opening Strategy

Some of you may be wondering the relationship between cancer therapy and the patient, why cancer patients find it so difficult to select the appropriate therapy. Like me, I have been reading so many therapies, how do I know which therapy is good for me? Is there a way I can put you in my shoes so that you can see what I am going through in therapy selection. I think I can use the analogy of the relationship between a boyfriend and a girlfriend. The cancer patient is the girl. The boyfriend is one of the therapies. How's the girl going to pick the so called "right" boyfriend. The boyfriend says all the sweet words to the girl just like the therapy promises the "cure" to the cancer patient. But after talking to many boyfriends (aka cancer therapies), all boyfriends are talking more or less the same sweet words. The girl is now confused. Which boyfriend is telling the truth? Which boyfriend should the girl select? The danger to all of these are that the girl must evaluate the boyfriend as a package. Not just the sweet words he talks but what he is like, etc. Similarly, you don't select for example just sour soup as the therapy just because it has some anti-cancer properties because you need more than that to survive cancer. Then you hear lemon grass is good and take that as well and before long, you take so many individuals therapies. It's like a girl dating so many boyfriends at the same time. What happens? In real life, the girl would of course go through a dating period before final selection. For therapies, there may not be a dating or trial period. This is because selecting the wrong therapy, the cancer patient may loses his or her life during the trial period. Therefore the selection of the therapy is much more stressful. Doctors and reading materials are all guides only. What one therapy that work on one patient may not work on another. The final selection would depend on the gut feel of the patient. Sometimes the girl's family may oppose the choice of boyfriend just as the family may not support your choice of therapy. Some patients actually leave it to their loves ones or doctors to decide. All I can tell you is that it is not easy. Can feel depressed and loses many nights of sleep over it. Don't forget there are monetary considerations as well. Come to think of it, should a cancer patient let others decide on which therapy he or she should take?

Since I have adopted a much more proactive approach to my daily activities, I am feeling more charged up and lively. No more sitting or lying around on the excuse of pain of the legs. Dumped my pathetic look and decided to feel good.  Despite the the pain on my right leg, I have decided not to let that stop me from going out to meet friends and run my errands. I am also thinking what I can do to earn back some income doing some work on a part time basis. I am also thinking of investing some  money to go for some certifications and put myself back on circulation in the job market in the event the opportunity presents itself. This is to move myself away from the sickly environment to a more positive environment. It does not matter if I live a month, three months, a year or whatever. A friend emailed me an appropriate reminder:


I take comfort in that as least I tried. It is better to have tried than never tried before (borrowed from its better to have love than never loved before).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's Next

My coughing has sort of stopped, coughing only occasionally. The healing pain on my abdominal area is getting slightly better although I still get some pain while lying flat on the bed. I am still depending on the pain killer when necessary. Most importantly, I have been sleeping well.

I have now reached the beginning of the second stage of my journey wherein I am like back to the very start of my journey i.e. looking for what therapies to do. I have identified Hyperthermia therapy but that alone may not be good enough. I am deeply trouble as to what my next course of action should be. More recently, through a recommendation and support of a reader in Hong Kong, I consulted a medical doctor in New York.

I have been keeping myself busy with reading some new therapies that was recommended to me by my doctor. These therapies are not the mainstream therapies even though they belong to the conventional drug category. Some of the therapies in consideration includes Metronomic chemo, Dentritic Cells Vaccine, Interleukin-2 therapy and Gammadelta therapy. As you can see, there are a lot of reading to do and understand how the therapies work.

Besides understand what and how these therapies works, the most difficult part is to find a doctor or hospital in Malaysia that is able to offer such treatments. Looks like I may have to look at countries within the South East Asian and Far East region for some answers. After finding the hospitals, I still have logistics to work out as some of these therapies takes time and need to get support care during my stay in the hospital. Anyway, I think its best to take a step at a time. Find the treatment centers first, hopefully there are available within the country.

I am encouraged by the new therapies recommended by my doctor. For example, the following abstract was taken from a study by the Department of Urology, Tokyo Women's Medical University:

Gammadelta T-cells have recently attracted considerable attention in the development of novel cancer immunotherapy, and several different approaches have been designed and employed in clinical trials. Case Report: A patient with lung metastasis after radical nephrectomy for renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) had six cycles of adoptive immunotherapy using autologous in vitro-activated gammadelta T-cells followed by low-dose interleukin-2 and zoledronic acid intravenous infusion. Complete remission was achieved which has been maintained for 2 years without any additional treatment. Immunological analysis demonstrated a high level of interferon-gamma four hours through one day following the transfer and peripheral blood gammadelta T-cells increased 10-fold from the baseline value, 7 days after the transfer. No serious adverse events were observed. CONCLUSION: Adoptive immunotherapy using gammadelta T-cells was shown here to be clinically beneficial and safe, and may become a therapeutic option for patients with advanced RCC.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Last Chance

As you know, I have depressed for quite sometime now as I am going through a very difficult period of my life. The cancer spread and all and I have not identified an appropriate treatment. Although there are a plethora of alternative therapies out there, I don't have access many of them and also the time needed to go through, then read and understand (if I can) to identify which are appropriate for me. Thanks to some readers and friends who have brought some of the therapies to my attention, it has made my search a little easier. It's from here I discovered that Hyperthermia therapy could be my last hope. And more recently, thanks to a reader from Hong Kong, she has so graciously put me into contact with her doctor in New York for consultation of my case. Not only that, she also sponsored the consultation fee for a certain number of hours for me. I would like to thank her from the bottom of my heart. Just when I am at the crossroads of my journey, don't know what to do, suddenly more  help came. Maybe I have done something good in the distant past.

I have emailed the doctor in New York whom I would called Dr. R attaching my latest treatment report from China. After reading the report, Dr. R gave me a number of recommendations to consider and the merits of the therapy. I only knew one of the recommendation and the rest of them were new to me. Dr. R has asked me to contact him in New York via Skype. What I am now doing is to read up more on his recommendations so that when I contact him, I can have a meaningful discussion. Dr. R has warned me of his "straight or blunt style to tell you whats what." I am prepared for it.

At the crossroads, I have discovered a new fork at the junction. The vehicle or therapy which I used to travel on the old road is Gerson therapy (GT) and the results of late has shown that it is not good enough for me. Dr. R has also commented that GT is not appropriate for me. Abandoning the old road for the new fork, I find myself needing to find a new vehicle or therapy to travel on. Uncharted roads are never easy to travel. Selecting the wrong vehicle i.e the therapy shall mean I will not survive the journey. I am troubled and lost. My emotions are in turmoil. And I hope with the help of Dr. R, I could quickly stand on my feet and command the vehicle to safely reach my destination.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day After Day

The other day, an anonymous reader said "by writing every single day, and mentioning about your cancer, wouldn't that be reminding you constantly that you are not well, and you continue to dwell in the sea of depression?" I did give a short reply then but today, I thought I would thought I would touch on that topic a little more. I am happy he or she asked that question.

When you discovered you have cancer, after all the initial shock or whatever you want to call it, you will quickly wake up and realise that you now have cancer. Some people chose to remain angry questioning "why me?" and can spend their rest of the remaining life angry with every one and still not get an answer. Some others chose to accept the reality and make the best out of it. No matter which path one chooses, as a cancer patient, we live with the cancer day in and day out. Once you have cancer, it will stay with you forever. Even after in remission, you are living with the fear of recurrence. 

There are so many things happening in a day. From the moment I wake up, I feel the sickness, it's only a question of whether its was better or worst than yesterday. Of course, many cancer patients keep themselves busy with various activities throughout the day. Hopefully during those times, the mind is off the illness. When the illness is improving or stable, then it is much easier to manage. But when the illness is progressing, got more things to think about. There are many things a cancer patient has the decide as well. For example, if the cancer has spread, do you tell it to your family, siblings and parents? When in pain, do you show your pain in front of your family, siblings and parents? Like I was coughing blood, I had to do it quietly because if my parents see me oozing so much blood, it will cause them great pain. Also when I need to cry, I have to find a solitary place to do it, hiding my emotional pain. When I am depressed, I have to act in a normal way and yet at the same time pacify my emotions. Otherwise people around you get worried too. Then there are therapies to consider and research. Funds running low. And the lists goes on.

One of the main charcteristics of cancer is pain, excruciating pain at times. It sticks with you 24 hours a day whether you are aware of it or not. At times when the pain score is low, maybe 2 or 3, the pain is in the background and I can mostly ignore it. This is considered comfortable and of course as the pain score rises, the only way to keep the pain at bay is to take pain killers. My worst experience was in Chongqing, China after my TAE procedure. Morphine is the mother of all pain killers. Even after receiving the morphine jab, I could still feel the excruciating pain. If it was possible I would want to end my life then.

I find blogging very therapeutic. It allows me to express my thoughts and emotions, reflect on what's going on with me, my life and my illness. It also allows me to come into contact with many people, especially other cancer patients as well. The mutual sharing and support for each other. Some readers go out the way to write to me, phone me and console me while others prefer to write in the comments. Some readers go even further by providing me with some funds or training. All these helps me to cope better.

I am also sending out a message to all healthy people. You can see how difficult the life of a cancer patient can be. Please spend sometime on your health. It's worth it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Tough Time Ahead

The pain on my right abdominal area has been quite bad for the past week. Prior to this, the pain was occasional but now I feel it everyday, especially when I am lying flat on the bed. When I run my fingers accross the area, I can feel some pain. I don't know what's going on and my doctors from China said pain is expected and the healing differs from patient to patient. So now I can only take pain killers to reduce the pain. At the sametime, I feel the pain on my right leg has also shifted. Since my abdominal pain has increased so has my right leg. I am walking with much more pain.

Yesterday, I reread my China doctors' discharge report on my condition and realised cancer has spread far and wide. It has gone to the right lung, my left knee and apparently also the liver! The road ahead will be more difficult.

In view of the development, I think I will take a raincheck on my friend's offer to go Ipoh. I am not able travel such a long distance at the moment. Two of my readers have also invited me to their house in Penang. I hope to take up their offers later. Its really unfortunate my physical condtion has turned for the worst. I can't go for any further treatment until my abdominal heals.

If there is any consolation, it is that I have been sleeping well during this time. Somehow my biorhythm is back in sync and I can now sleep by midnight.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Future?

Three days ago, I revisited my near drowning experience in Redang Island in August 2006. There is one more experience that I learned then, that I hope never to experience it again. But when you have cancer, I think at any one point in time, some of us will have to experience it. What is the experience that I am talking about? When you are near drowning out in the sea, you will be desperately looking for support, anything to hang on to, to save your dear life. But there is none! It's a horrifying experience. In the case of cancer, a patient will experience this feeling when there are no more therapies that a cancer patient can take. There is nothing much more I can do for you, the doctors will say. Even in alternative treatment, there comes a time when all available options are also exhausted. It means the end. Imagine how terrifying that is? How will you take it? How are you going to pacify your heart? How will your mind maintain sanity? How are you going to live the rest of your remaining days knowing your end is near? How do you maintain your smile and be happy everyday? What will you do before the day arrives?

I had the unfortunate opportunity to relive the experience again in 2009 when my the majority of my doctors told me that is nothing more they could do for me. I was still working then and as I was having lunch with my ex-colleagues, I told them about my cancer. I told them I am going to quit my job and look for treatment. One of them told me that if she had cancer, she would work till her last day. May as well earn as much as possible in the meantime. Another told me to enjoy life as if tomorrow was my last day. Still another took me to see a fortune teller.  I asked the fortune teller if there was any major health problems that I would be facing now. Oh, that fortune teller could not "see" my cancer. Later I told him I had cancer and he was surprised because he says it was not in the readings! Frankly, I did not know what to do other than to look for alternative treatment. I chance upon the movie "The Bucket List" and saw what other people did. Got some ideas. Was also preparing for my eventual death in a few months time. During this period, I was really depressed and emotionally exhausted. Of course, I did not die within the next six months. A breath of hope came back to my life. I gained more confidence in my therapy.

As if not enough, now I may have to revisit the same experience again, for the third time! Luck really deserted me, not that I had it in the first place. I am in the second phase of my journey. Cancer has spread and some therapies are not working. There are not much options left. After that, then what? Coming full circle again. When you invests in the stock market and hope the stock price will rise, then the hope is nothing but gambling. Pure luck. Still for me, there is only hope (= pure luck = miracle) left. But luck has deserted me! Aiya, I am over indulging again. Helps me release some stress and correct some emotional imbalances.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

If Only I Could

My coughing is coming back off and on. One thing that has not changed is the blood stain clots in the phlegm. Hope it will not get worst. This is to be expected since my cancer has spread to another part of the lung. I can't do anything now because my HIFU treatment has not healed yet. Starting another treatment is not recommended. I have contacted the hospital in China and the doctors say each patients reacts differently. They suggested that I get some pain killers to manage the pain. I feels like I am a sitting duck now. Helpless and in a hopeless situation.

Yesterday, a friend who is also a breast cancer survivor called me. She asked whether I am free around lunch time. She would like to take me to attend a lunch time stand up show. It's going to be hilarious and she thought that I would feel better after that. I thank her very much. Last two days, my abdominal pain has been acting up again. I told her it would be a bit difficult for me at this moment to enjoy the show and I suggested a future date instead. She said there will be only one show. What a shame that I have to give the show a miss.

I never thought I would write about this. But in life, never say never. Personally, while in China, the doctors have used very low dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy for my treatment. The TAE procedure is to inject a very low dose of chemotherapy directly into the blood vessels supplying blood to the kidney tumor to block the blood flow. I also had an IPT procedure where the doctors also injected very small doses of radioactive particles directly into the new right lung tumor.

This metronomic chemotherapy treatment was introduced to me by a reader from Hong Kong. Strangely, I wonder why some of our doctors back home does not know this treatment. Anyway, she has used it and reported that she managed to get rid of the lymph nodes and lung metastasis within three months of usage. I am encouraged by her success. I have also done some further reading and discovered something startling. How about some low dose chemotherapy that does not target cancer and normal cells, no side effects but yet more effective than high dose conventional chemotherapy?

Metronomic Chemotherapy
In 2000, two cancer research groups published a remarkable observation, in tumor-bearing rodents, low-dose chemotherapy, too low to evoke side effects or have a meaningful direct impact on tumor cells, when given on a daily or near-daily schedule, could markedly retard tumor growth.

This proved to be true even when the tumors were known to be resistant to the chemotherapeutic drugs employed. The solution to this riddle was that the chemotherapy was slowing or preventing angiogenesis. During angiogenesis, new endothelial cells are extremely fragile as they branch off from existing blood vessels, multiply, migrate into a tumor in response to chemical signals secreted by tumor cells, and eventually form themselves into tubular structures to give rise to new vessels. Whereas the endothelial cells lining established vessels only rarely multiply, are stabilized by growth factors provided by neighboring cells, and are rarely killed by clinically feasible doses of chemotherapy drugs. The endothelial cells engaged in angiogenesis are extremely sensitive to killing by these drugs, much more so than most cancer cells. Thus, when low-dose chemotherapy is administered on a daily schedule (known as "metronomic" because it is regular and even like the beat of a metronome) the continual death of endothelial cells attempting to form new blood vessels can substantially disrupt the angiogenic process, slowing it down notably.

One of the particular merits of this metronomic approach centers around cancer drug resistance. Whereas conventional, high-dose chemotherapy tends to select tumor cells that are resistant to the drugs used, metronomic chemotherapy targets normal endothelial cells that do not grow resistant to the drugs. In other words, metronomic chemotherapy keeps on working when conventional therapy fails. Tumors may be able to adapt to a degree by increasing their production of pro-angiogenic factors that promote endothelial cells survival. This explains why cancers, which initially regress in response to metronomic therapy sometimes grow back despite continuing therapy. The cancer confers this relative resistance; not the endothelial cells themselves.

Recently, a further benefit of metronomic chemotherapy has been established. It tends to selectively kill a population of immune cells, called "T-reg" cells, that function to suppress the activity of immune cells capable of attacking the tumor. These are the natural killer (NK) cells and T-cytotoxic cells. T-reg cells often congregate within tumors and secrete hormone-like factors that "turn off" the immune cells trying to attack the cancer. Thus, metronomic chemotherapy has emerged as a useful adjuvant to therapeutic strategies intended to boost the tumor-killing capacity of NK and T-cytotoxic cells.

The utility of treating rodent tumors, including transplanted human tumors, with metronomic chemotherapy has now been confirmed in a great many studies. In some of these studies, combining such chemotherapy with other measures attacking the angiogenic process has led to complete remissions of pre-existing aggressive tumors. Other studies also showed that metronomic chemotherapy can be useful when used in conjunction with conventional chemotherapy.

The most extensive published clinical experience with metronomic chemotherapy regimens has been provided by oncologists in Milan, who have documented the long-term responses of patients with metastatic breast cancer to a metronomic regimen involving daily cyclophosphamide (50mg) and two weekly doses of methotrexate (5mg per dose). From the patients using this regimen, 32% achieved either a complete or partial remission, or a stabilization of disease lasting at least 24 weeks. In about 16% of patients, no tumor progression was noted for over a year. Even in the patients in whom progression did occur, it seems likely that the therapy was often slowing the spread of the disease. The especially good news, since metronomic chemotherapy is intended for long-term use, is that this regimen was essentially free of annoying side effects. Only a mild suppression of white cell count was observed in a small minority of the treated patients.

Since metronomic therapy is directed against endothelial cells, not cancer cells, a metronomic regimen that works well with one type of cancer should work well with all types of cancer dependent on angiogenesis for growth.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You Only Live Once

Depressed or not, life has to go on. Ever since my China trip, I have been resting at home. My rests mainly consisting of either lying on the bed or sitting on the couch. And the main problem was that I was not able to sleep well at night. However, I noticed some changes lately. Since the last three days, I have been sleeping rather well. Able to sleep at night is very important. While cancer patients has been advised to rest more, I have also been thinking that sitting around resting is not very good for me. Now that my condition has improved, I feel it's time for me to be more active. To live life fuller instead of just sitting and lying around. Why make myself feel so pathetic? Life is short and literally applies to cancer patients. How many more 10 months do I have? To feel alive, I must live like as if I have no cancer. I must go out and meet friends and travel around too. Of course, I must bear in mind not to overstretch myself too much and also get sufficient rests. Yes, that's what I will do from now.

Every battle that takes place, whether within the body and mind or outside of it, is always a battle against oneself.
Zen Saying

The saying part is always easy. Even a three year old child can say it. But it's so difficult to put into action.

I am at the cross roads. The cancer spread signals a new path for me. It used be only one road but now has fork. I have been walking the old road now reaching the junction. I have a choice of continuing to walk on the old road or take the fork. My experience with the old road has been good but the results lately tells me that this road may lead to nowhere. Choosing the fork appears to be a natural selection under the circumstances but that fork road is uncharted. It's like selecting an appropriate therapy to deal with the cancer spread, not so straight forward and involves risks. There could be other options, each also having its own risks. On a day in August of 2006, while playing on the Redang beach, I was swept out into the sea by a strong wave together with two of my other colleagues. By far, I was swept the furthest away. Luckily one of my colleague managed to get back to shore and went for help. Meanwhile, I have used up all my energy trying to swim back onshore and I was so tired out in the process. I have been out in the sea for I think more than 15 minutes and I began to experience hypothermia. My skin started turning blue and before I knew it, I have lost control of my hands and feet. I closed my eyes and only the natural buoyancy was keeping me afloat. I told myself "so this is my last day on earth?" So I closed my eyes and waited for my life to end. Meanwhile, some seawater began to enter my mouth. I think only two of my sense faculties was working, touch and hearing. Just when I thought I was a gonner, I heard someone telling me it's OK. Got you! I felt her holding my hand as she pulled me all way back to the shore. Now, at the junction I am getting similar feelings. It's like having to experience dying again, only this time it will be terrifying.

I think I did not learned anything from the Redang near drowning experience. That was suppose to be a life changing experience. I was hospitalised and discharged the next day. I was walking and laughing. I went back to Redang Island. So I became egoistic. Didn't reflect on the incident and had a re-look at my life. A month earlier in July 2006, I went for full a medical check-up at a hospital. My lungs were clear. There was something not right in my blood test results. In those days, I depended on the doctor to read and interpret the results to me. Only one result was out of range, my GGT level and my doctor gave me clean bill of health. I am not blaming her now. The GGT level tells me that something could be wrong with my pancreas and liver. But I did not know that then. If I had investigated further, I would have probably discovered the kidney cancer then, most likely at Stage 1 or 2.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Keep Hanging On

Every where I look, its depressing. I have not been able to shake off my depression. At times I feel I have almost beaten it only to find myself sinking deeper in. It's like quicksand. The more you resist, the more you sink in. Living with cancer is already difficult and to find your cancer advancing is very depressing. Still it's a choice of how I make of it. Continue to indulge in self-pity or make the best out of it. But I am also very tired. Physically I am exhausted. Mentally, I have tried to cope as much as I can take. Perhaps being depressed is one way to help my mind cope with so much pain. I don't know how much longer I can maintain my sanity. I am just an ordinary person, no superman. Remaining positive is like swimming against the current. How much longer can I keep up? At times, I feel like trowing in the towel. Easy way out, like taking a holiday forever. Take a last glance at the world and close my eyes forever. As a Buddhist, I will take my chances on my next rebirth, whatever it maybe. My greatest regret is not having the courage to live the way I want, true to myself.

How do I contain those constantly felt negative feelings and depression? My best weapon is music, soothing and relaxing music. Next is to have someone to talk to. No, I don't want them to give me any advise, just be there for me and listen. When that is not possible, I go for walks. Why not meditation? The mind is agitated and the heart restless. Those negative emotions must be dealt with and not suppressed. Only then would relief come.

Yesterday after lunch, the pain on my abdominal area became more pronounced. Normally, the pain if it comes, are usually after dinner. As the day progressed, it became painful and I had to take the pain killer. Then I was awaken by the abdominal pain at about 5am. Woke up, made a hot oatmeal drink and then took another pain killer. I am monitoring the situation.

I think I need a holiday. I have decided not to go Sri Lanka in the middle of this month due to my abdominal pain. Perhaps later in the year. My friend Eddie from Ipoh has invited me to stay in his house for a few days. The last time when I was there, we spent so much time talking. He was my colleague from my banking days in the 80s. He is retired and so we get to talk for the whole day. When you get older, you reminisce the good old days. The best time we spent together was in 84, together with his colleagues, we stayed at Strawberry Park, Cameron Highlands. That was the first time I went to Cameron Highlands. I fell in love with the place immediately. It consists of verdant hills and valleys. We booked a one room apartment. The girls took the room and the guys had to sleep in the hall. Actually we did not sleep very much. We spent the whole night eating and talking. We got together at the fire place and sang out hearts out, especially the heart touching song We Are The World. Oh, how I missed those days. I have not decided whether to take up his offer. This is because he is such a good host, I don't want to trouble him. He would drive me around and this time he said, we could go to Cameron Highlands to stay for a day. Very tempting offer. I may just go to have a break in routine.

Think for a Moment

NEVER JUDGE ANYONE BECAUSE You never know how their life is or as to what is happening or what they’re going through. Just think ABOUT this moment.

-Author Unknown-

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Breath of Air

I am breathing a sight of relief. I managed to sleep rather well yesterday, most of it undisturbed. I hope this would continue. The pain from my right abdomen has improved somewhat. I can sit and lie down without much problems. When I examine that abdominal area, I can feel the bulge around side of the abdomen. If I was not sick, I would probably think that it is the spare tire. Yesterday before bathing, I had a look at myself in the mirror, something I did not do for a long time. Still could not recognised my own cancer ravaged body. The visible ribs, absence of muscles and sickly skin. Looks like a seriously malnutrition person. Sigh.

The discovery of a new tumor on my right lung has made my breathing a little more difficult. I find that I can't breath hard. To escape the realities of illness, sometimes I bury myself listening to some old music. I like songs from the 70s, love those from the 80s and 90s. I don't understand most pop music made since the new millennium. I like to sing once in a while, however my voice is scratchy. I can't to seems to hold my breath and the voice always break up. Not that I am a good singer. My guitar is collecting dust. Now I can't even sing along my favorite songs. To borrow a line from ABBA (Thank you for your music), what would life be without a sound and a dance?

Yesterday, towards later in the afternoon, I began to cough again. Again, had a hard cough and noticed the phlegm had blood clots again. This time it was solid and darkish in color. Luckily the coughing stopped towards the evening.

As I was reading Bernard Khoo's blog, Zorro-unmasked, I saw something that I think is appropriate reminder to all the busy people out there. Of course for us cancer patients, it's even more urgent.

Sometimes we guard our feelings
when we should let them go
and tell the special people in our lives
that we care for them so.
One day without warning,
they may be gone,
At every opportunity,
tell those you love
that you care
before the day comes along
and they are no longer there.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dark Clouds Rolled In

Yesterday night, I managed to sleep without a sleeping aid. I believe this was due to my tiredness as I was not able to sleep the whole night the day before. I was awaken by a pain from my right abdominal area at about 5.30am, the same place where I had my HIFU procedure. It was painful for me to getup and sit on the bed. I think that could also be due to some internal bleeding. I noticed that my stools are rather red. I will take some samples and arrange for lab testing to check for traces of blood. Just then, I remembered my friend that was hospitalised in University Hospital (UH). I began to sent positive thoughts to her but was oblivious to the tears I was shedding. Then a thought suddenly occurred that maybe my life is also coming to an end too. I allow myself to indulge to get in touch with my emotions. There I was talking about no self-pity the day before and now overwhelmed with tears filled with self-pity. Hypocrisy at its best. I felt wonderfully sad. How ironic? I think I needed a good cry to soothe my bleeding heart. This was probably my subconscious mind putting my emotions back in order. Emotional cleansing if you will.

Last two days, my coughing frequency has increased. Yesterday I was coughing a little harder than usual and in one of my coughs, I notice blood stained clots. I also wanted to go for my IVC treatment in the afternoon but after discovery of the blood stained phlegm, I decided to postpone it to another day until I get my lab test results. As a precaution, I took some TCM pills Shui Feng Su He Wan to relief my coughing.

I have been meeting with my brother and sisters almost every week for quite sometime now. Prior to my cancer days, we don't meet so often. Each week, we have lunch together to catch-up. One of the usual question was "how I am doing?" I have been very upfront with my siblings and also my parents ever since they knew of my cancer. I try not to paint a good picture when it is not good, just to pacify them. I believe that by telling the truth, I would prepare them for my in-eventuality. But when it is easy telling your family the truth. In reality, I am also preparing myself for the acceptance. I tell them not to worry about me. I am doing all that are possible and the rest is not up to me. Until then, I will lead a very positive life and be as happy as I can. This does not mean that I have resigned to my present fate. I believe in changing destiny.

Last night, I went out to meet a friend at Taipan for a chat. It is a very busy commercial area and I was happy that I managed to find a parking space. After the meeting, I found myself stranded in the car park as I could not deactivate my car alarm. I called my neighbour who runs a car accessories shop for help. By the time he arrived, it was almost 12 midnight. Somehow, he heard me wrongly over the phone and went to another place to meet me. After checking, he said I forgot to switch off my car lights resulting in the car battery running flat.  Silly me. What was I thinking when I parked my car and not noticing the car lights was not switched off?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Still In The Groove

Dear friends and readers, due to lack of internet access while I was hospitalised in Chongqing, China, I was not able to read many of your comments, especially those written in December 2011 and January 2012. It is also not possible to access in China. My apologies for not replying to you. After coming back from China, I was very weak and due to pain, I was lying down most of the time. I spent very little time on the PC and as a result, I still did not read any of the comments. Finally, I managed to read your comments last night. I am touched by all your comments and best wishes for me. The encouragement and support I get from all of you are so therapeutic and I shed tears of joy. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Having stage 4 end stage cancer is really terrifying. Everyday I look at death, not sure when it comes. Tears just fall, I am not in control. The heart is so sad, there are no events to compare it to. The emotions that goes through the mind are overwhelming. Clinging to my dear life, I pine for health, something that I take for granted that I have but suddenly taken away from me. No warning. I realised that my only chance of surviving is to turn the tables on sadness. No more self pity, no more feeling of helplessness, uselessness, no more all the no-nos, embracing each day as it comes. Traveling on a cancer journey then becomes an adventure. Everyday is a different experience. I learned the joy of sharing and thus this blog was born. It's incredible, you "meet" so many people from all over the world. People you don't know but encouraging you to strive on. Surely this is hope? From isolation of fighting this battle alone, I am now surrounded by so many well wishers. It's unbelievable. A friend told me that all I need to do is to reach out. Reach out I did. Surround yourself with happy people and you will be happy.

This journey is long. I am not sure how far I have traveled because I still can't see the road ahead. So for me, everyday I live is a bonus. I am so much happier now though there are occasionally bumps of sadness along the way. I met and made many new friends along the way. Some of them are also cancer patients and we stay in touch encouraging each other to strive on. The road is not always smooth riding. Sometimes, it's like traveling on a steep and winding road with a deep ravine by the side. Anything can happen. For example, yesterday I received an email from a cancer friend and this is what she wrote:

Sorry I am having short of breath yesterday afternoon, now in UH. If they can't solve the problem for me able to travel to Germany. I may have to say bye bye to all of you!

Immediately my heart sank and I shouted no! I just could not contain my tears. Not another please. I lost a friend in October 2011 last year, one in December and yesterday I received a email that read "I regret to inform you that my brother Winston has passed on and called home by the good lord. He passed away on Sunday 26 Feb." He was fine when I met him a couple of months ago. This is hard for me to take. I quickly composed myself and replied to her to be positive and not jump the gun. I am sure the hospital will do whatever they can to clear her breathing problems. I am sending positive thoughts to her.

Although I am a kidney cancer patient, I can really understand her problems because the tumors has spread to my lungs too. If I am not able to contain the tumors, they would grow and occupy my whole lungs and I was also die of breathing difficulties. She was doing quite OK and was planning to go to Germany with me in April. But all of a sudden, the situation changed. But I am still hoping that she can come along. Such is our lives.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One Sided Affair

As I was listening to this very romantic number of Ray Parker Jr's One Sided Love Affair it gave me the idea to write about affairs.  After some serious writings in the past couple of weeks, I though I write something in a humorous way. I wrote this entire post while listening to that song. A loveless story, if you will. I am not good at it but I will try. I hope you will enjoy it. Entertainment magazines, especially those from Hong Kong have full of them, some real and probably most made to believe. Magazines like these sells like hot cakes. Somehow people are always interested to know about affairs. Right? So read on.

Many of us have been into love relationships. But this loveless relationship or affair if you want to call it, is between me and Ms Kidney Cancer. This is a one of a kind relationship, one that I am sure none of you want to be in. Unlike high school dating, you get to see your prospective partner and also have a right to accept or reject the partner. Then you hold each others hand and the relationship develops. Somehow I found out I am an unwilling partner in this relationship and till today I still don't know when this relationship started. It is safe to say all relationships does not happen overnight but over time. She has been eying me probably for the last 15 years. What a fool I am not to notice her interest in me. There were signs like always thirsty, blood in urine, chronic fatigue among others.  Ms Cancer, as I call her even thought I am in relationship with her, I don't know her well. In fact I don't even like her let alone love. This is a dry relationship. I have no emotional attachment towards her. I only knew that she was with me when she pinched my right kidney and I urinated blood. I remember in high school, the girl will pinch you if you ignore her when she is with you. So by the time I discover I am in relationship with Ms Cancer, it was too late. She is a sticker, in fact she love me so much that you can find her presence not only in my kidney but in my lungs and bones too. Once she sticks to me, I found out that it was so difficult to get her out of my life.

For a relationship to flourish, the partners agrees to a set of terms and conditions. An equal partnership. But in this relationship, I have no say. For example, the food I eat, she takes all the nutrients and only allows me to do the dirty work like flushing out the feces. She make me want to eat ice cream but she steals all the glucose from me. I do all the hard work of digesting. Then she puts on weight and I lose weight in the process. As she become strong, I become weaker. So it's better I break off this relationship that is one sided. For that, I had to take medication to lose her because like the elephant glue, she has become stuck all over me. The doctors recommend that I have three choices. Surgery, quick way to thin her down and maybe chemotherapy and radiotherapy to get rid of her completely. These treatment got some serious side effects though and I may also die in the process.

When you are in a relationship, your partner always care for you. They don't take advantage of you. OK, some jerks do. With Ms Cancer, she always take advantage of me. For example, she is active at night while I want to sleep and heal. She would not let me rest. The more meat I take, the more nutrients she steal from me. She could not care less if I had any. If I don't eat, she will take from my savings bank, my muscles. To control me, she gives me much pain to remind me that she is in control much like spouse abuse. And she becomes so greedy, she wants to take over my body and consume me whole. Little does she knows that she can't have the cake and eat it too. But such is her character.

By the time I discovered the relationship, she has taken quite a lot of control over me. In Chinese, they say Queen's Control. Sigh. I cannot negotiate separation with her. She knows if I take convention medication, it's like going for broke too. But she forgot I got still some other tricks on my hand. I can use alternative medication that she is not aware of. She forgot, I can become vegetarian and she will have no food to eat. She likes acids bath but I can take alkaline foods to deny her beauty bath. I must admit I let her control me for so long unknowingly, now it's a little difficult on my part to wrest control back.  Still I will continue to push to terminate this one sided affair that has no benefit to me but she is not budging.

This relationship is still on going and work in progress. Rest assured I will kick Ms Cancer out of my life for good. I just cut some part of her in December and will be getting rid of her for good in Apr/May. Stay tune for the next episode of One Sided Affair - Part 2.