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.


  1. Hi Chang
    Have been silently reading your blog...you know it is good that u have been able to soul search and express yourself...for me, each time I read I try to visualize what is going on in you, your feelings and what u feel physically...I always felt this need to help but I always end up with what can I do to help other than write.
    I am of the opinion that u r also at a crossroads...in your way much earlier articles shortly after your return from China when u had a lot of pain...the thought of crossroads did come to my mind...-
    The Gerson therapy is to clean up the toxin in your body....which u have done alot...but possibly u need to strengthen your body to heal and rejuvenate...now. It was 100% cleaning but now possibly is 60% rejuvenating and 40% cleaning at the same time...
    And when we are at a crossroads we need to strengthen our surviving spirit and think positively...so that we turn and get through another leg of journey...
    Also I am of the opinion whether we have cancer or any other diseases when we are at 50s and above, we must be positive but also to recognize that our body cannot recover to what it was before...we need to set a realistic expectation...
    Life was never perfect from the start...it has always been a journey to strife...sometimes great things happen, we laugh and be happy sometimes things dont work the way we want it to...

  2. Dear Ai Wee,

    It is expected that as we age, we can't expect our body to behave like in the younger days. More so when you have cancer, the immune system which has been severely compromised, the body will take a much longer time to heal, if it heals at all.

    I could not help but to think what my urologist said to me back in 2009. He said, every of his kidney cancer patient, whether they did surgery, chemotherapy and targeted drug therapy (any combination), they all died within six months. Now that I did the "surgery" to remove the kidney tumor myself, I wonder if I will become one of the statistic. Thus the urgency.

    You are right. The China trip signals another phase of my journey, very different from the first 23 months. This phase is proving such a challenge to me, I am still learning how to handle and live with it. The excruciating pain during treatment and the healing pain subsequently. Pain encourages depression, suppresses the mind and leads to desperation. Yet in all the depth of sadness, one has to continue to live. I have chosen to embrace it and live the best and as happy as I can.

  3. 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?

    1. Thank you for writing and for your concern.

      For me, there is nothing worst that denying that I have no cancer. Just because you don't talk about the cancer does not mean it's not there. Also, does it mean that not talking about depression means the depression will go away or didn't exist? On the contrary, the faster you recognise that cancer is part of your life the faster you move on.

      When you have a problem that you cannot solve, what do you normally do? You will want to speak to a friend and after talking, you realise you feel much better, even no solution was found. Much the same way for me. Suppressing emotions is the worst thing to do and can cause stress and the cancer to grow.

      Furthermore this is my journal. If I do survive my cancer, I can look back at what happened during my journey.