Sunday, April 29, 2012

Being Willing For Anything to Happen

The last three days, I have been sleeping throughout the day. Last Friday, I believe it was the pain killer OxyNorm which I taper off in favor of Ultracet, which is  a much milder pain killer but without the drowsiness effect. Still, I felt very tired. This morning at about 4.15am, I was awaken by the pain on my right rib cage. I had the pain starting last Saturday and thought it was only temporary but look likes it's going to stay. I find it difficult and painful to breath and cough. Even lying down straight, its painful as if the nerves are pulling. I have also lost my appetite. Yes, even with sirloin steak with black pepper sauce, I don't feel like eating. My stomach felt very full, so I had a little pineapple instead. After that, I got some mood back and was grateful, quickly ate my lunch/dinner.

After I woke up, I went downstairs to drink more water as I felt dehydrated. My hair and my back are soaked with sweat. I am now adverse to cold and hence I do not use any air-conditioner in my room. After that, I sat silently in contemplation trying to connect with my inner self. I have a decision to make. I wrote to the Klinik Herzog in Frankfurt, Germany and Dr Herzog has said I could go to his clinic for Hyperthermia treatment. Dr Herzog uses hyperthermia and combines his treatment with low dose chemo during the full body hyperthermia. During the 4 hour full body hyperthermia when the whole body are heated to over 42°C, the structure of the cancer cells becomes unstable and it is during this time that low dose chemotherapy are applied. The results are that despite using very low dose chemotherapy, the results are often very good and with no or little side effects. In my case, since chemotherapy has no effect on kidney cancer, Dr Herzog is proposing a package of sunitinib which is basically Sutent. The estimated costs is 21K for 20 days treatment and there are other costs not included. I recon that the costs could swell to 30K.

My doctor in New York has advised me that hyperthermia itself is not useful unless used as an adjunct to chemo or radiation (or immunotherapy) and he felt the best results are from immunotherapy. I have just received my cyclophosphamide or Cytoxan tablets for 60 days supply from New York. I am now have the following choices; start the metronomic chemotherapy for 60 days and look at the results to decide the hyperthermia treatment in Germany and vice versa? With my present condition, the logical choice would be to go Germany for hyperthermia treatment first. Once the decision is made, I will fly almost within the next few days.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bersih 3.0

Today, I will depart from my normal post and write a little in support of Bersih or Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, something I care about very much as a concern Malaysian for the future generations. 

Today Bersih is having a sit-in at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) at 2.00pm for two hours. 

Some food for thought:
  • Why would the Federal Government fear it's citizens requests for a fair and free elections?
  • The Federal Government says Bersih does not pose a security threat but the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur says it's a threat and refused to grant permission to use the grounds.
  • The Bersih organisers just wanted to do a peaceful sit-in protest for only two hours. The Kuala Lumpur City Mayor rather lock down all the roads leading to Datataran Merdeka for 72 hours!
  • The police has given the nod to Bersih assembly but at the same time got a court order to bar the people from assembling at Dataran Merdeka.

 What does all these tells you?

I salute all of you Malaysians, who participated in the Bersih 3.0 assembly. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Day After

OxyNorm 5mg is very good for instant pain relief. Its a opioid painkiller similar to morphine. This blocks the transmission of pain signals sent by the nerves to the brain. Therefore, even though the cause of the pain may remain, less pain is actually felt. However, it does not last the 4 hours as claimed by the drug manufacturer. Possibly 2-3 hours only. I got very drowsy and mouth was very dry after taking the drug. I don't think I want to take the drug continuously. I think I will alternate between taking Ultracet and OxyNorm for the time being. This morning, I was awaken by the pain on my right leg and spent sometime massaging it. After breakfast, I took an OxyNorm capsule. The pain went away quickly but I was also feeling very sleepy after that. I am also feeling a little sick and feverish. After lunch, I felt even sleepier. So I took a nap to rest.

I went to the medical supply shop to buy a walking stick. I feel kind of funny and clumsy when I first used it. My right feet keep bumping onto the walking stick. I struggled a bit when I was climbing up and walking down the stairs. I think there are some practicing I need to do on how to walk properly with the walking stick.

Later in the afternoon, I paid a visit to my friend, Yeong. We spoke about some cancer patients and I also updated him about my upcoming plans. He suggested I continue to take the CA herbs for bone cancer and pain in the meantime.  He told me of two recent interesting cases, one a 79 year bachelor who was just diagnosed with colon cancer that has spread to his liver. The doctor gave him only three months to live and if he did surgery, he can increase his life span by about another three months. He rejected the recommendation and went for alternative treatment. He asked my friend whether he can smoke his cigar and drink whiskey, at least for his coming birthday after that he will stop. My friend just smiled. In another case, the man was diagnosed with lung cancer at aged 100. Despite having cancer, he still continues to ride his motorcycle until one day he fell into the drain. Of course, he is now grounded by his family. A lot of people are getting cancer at a later age.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No Luxury of Time

Despite leaving for town early in the morning at 6.40am today, we were caught in a traffic jam along the Federal Highway which at one point threatened to turn into a car park. I directed my brother who drove me to the hospital to use the NP Expressway to get to town. We arrived just past 7.20am. The clinic opens at 8.30am, so we had a drink nearby to kill time. Anyway, after examining my back, pelvic area and legs, my doctor told me that the pain is not caused by the lumbar spine or slip disc problem. Instead he suspected it has to do with the tumors and immediately sent me for an x-ray on pelvic bone area. True enough, the x-ray revealed a serious intrusion in the pelvic bone by the tumors.  He added that the tumors are pressing against the nerves thereby causing the pain. Nothing can be done except to take pain killers. He then prescribed the stronger pain killer called OxyNorm 5mg. I took a tablet after dinner and I must say it quite effective against the pain. When my condition deteriorates, I will not only get more pain but I will be wheelchair bound as well as I will not be able to walk. Meanwhile, he advised me to get a walking stick.

I felt sad after hearing what the doctor said but I was able to snap out of the negative thoughts quickly. No tears. I am not in denial, only that I have accepted my condition. It's just a piece of bad news. My mind is very positive despite this development. On the way back, I had a discussion with my brother on some of my options that are available in view of this development.

I wrote to my friend in Hong Kong telling her of my current condition and my thoughts. She is of the view that hyperthermia is very sound. She was very encouraging and also shared part of her cancer journey experience with me. I am encouraged by her experience and also gave me the confidence to go Germany alone. Something she wrote is so relevant: "Years before, I always held the thought that I should try the treatments one by one so I could see which one worked and which didn't, only to realize that I really didn't have that luxury of time. Then I started to take all treatments I could get hold of, be it conventional or alternative or supplements, together. Ended up I didn't really know which one worked or did they ever work, but I believe one or some of them have slowed down the progress of disease. The only definite improvement was seen a few months after the metronomic chemo."

It looks like I have to develop Option B now. The most viable option is to go to Germany for Hyperthermia treatment. I will probably stay there for two months, the second month is for a follow-up hyperthermia treatment, two treatments all together. I will most likely go there on my own. My wife will probably accompany me for the first week after which she will leave for home to resume work and look after the children. Two of my daughters are still young and school going. I have one worry less when she is at home with the children. I have learned some practical tips of what to do from my friend whose wife in now in Germany for the follow-up hyperthermia treatment. She went alone this time. I think its doable. Furthermore, the time is now because later I may be wheelchair bound and not be able to travel alone.

I have developed Option C too. Option C is not mutually exclusive with Option B meaning I can do Option C as well. In this option, I will be traveling to China for the IL-2 (Interleukin-2) immune therapy. I will have to get more information by taking to a friend whose uncle took this therapy some years ago. She will introduce her uncle to me so that I can get some basic information and then do further research. When I do this therapy, it will have to be before winter in China, so likely to around September 2012.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Here and Now

This morning, I woke up to some pain on my right leg. I think the pain killer I took last night have weared off. The pain on my right leg seems a little unbearable. Now just during walking but even while resting. I feel like as if the cold winter wind is blowing against my leg and I feel the cold to the bone! It's painful and uncomfortable. I have to spent time massaging my leg.

I have an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon at Tung Shin Hospital tomorrow morning to get a second opinion about the spinal surgery. Pain, the precursor to negative thoughts are having a better grip of my mind lately. I am preparing myself to accept surgery. The pain has won part of the battle. Add in the pain from my abdominal area, pain elimination is right for the picking.

I have been practicing this positive thoughts that create abundance thingy after following a series of lectures of Dr Wayne Dyer from his audio book, Inner Wisdom. I find it very helpful as I am able to manage my day to day activities and also keeping myself smiling most of the time. I am also visualizing more. It has not become second nature to me but I am working very hard towards it. But at times, even the positive thoughts department goes on holiday. The devils reign free like today. Rambo is on sabbatical leave, revealing half the man I am now.

Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to? do you know?
Do you get what you're hoping for?
When you look behind you there's no open door
What are you hoping for? do you know?

 Diana Ross, Do You Know Where You Are Going To?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Take A Chance on Hope

Although my trip to Southern Thailand was short, nevertheless it was fun. My friends, Chin Aik, Ong and Kenny were very considerate always putting my comfort and safety first. I really appreciate it and thank you guys! I am not sure when we will have another outing together as I understand most of them are very busy.

I think I have have found one of the pain problem on my right abdomen. Last Friday, I decided to stop taking the night tablet of cimetidine and also for the next two days while I was in Thailand. The pain which usually exists just below my right rib cage area disappeared overnight! After additional reading of cimetidime, I found out in some occasions, it causes internal bleeding. The pain also started around the time I started taking cimetidime. Since my abdominal area is healing, taking of cimetidine can easily cause bleeding around that area. I can now only resume taking cimetidine after my abdominal area is healed. There are still some healing pain in my abdominal area.

I have been thinking about my lumbar spine/right leg pain problem. My current orthopedic surgeon said the only way out is surgery.. The pain killer has been partially effective. I am making arrangement to meet another orthopedic surgeon at Tung Shin Hospital to get a second opinion on the surgery. I have also been reading about the spinal surgery. I am quite open to either of the two common types of spine surgery decompression procedures: microdiscectomy (or microdecompression) or a lumbar laminectomy (or open decompression). I thought since I am about to start the metronomic chemotherapy soon, I am thinking of giving this therapy a four month trial period. Towards July or August, I would like to take the Hyperthermia therapy in Germany. So meanwhile, I can opt for the spinal surgery if I want. Why are all the therapies clustered together? This is because I do not know what's in store in the future. All I know is what I can do now. I recently lost a cancer friend when she tried to postpone her treatment to a later date which was supported by very valid reasons.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Greetings From Betong, Thailand

It was a hectic two days trip to Betong, Southern Thailand. We (my friend, Chin Aik and two other gentlemen) left Subang Jaya at about 6.30am yesterday. The traffic was very smooth for North bound traffic on the North South Highway (NSH). We exited at the Tanjung Malim interchange and headed straight into town. Went a to small cafe and had our breakfast before continuing our journey on the  old road to Bidor. We resume joining NSH at Bidor and continued heading North until we reached the Kuala Kangsar interchange. After we exited the interchanged, we drove straight for Gerik. We did not stop halfway at Leggong town along the Gerik highway but instead proceeded to Pengkalan Hulu, the border town for a coffee stop and also to top up fuel. We decided to drive all the way into Thailand.

After we crossed the Malaysian Immigration, we then realised we forgot to refuel and reminded each other to top up in Betong itself. The Thailand Immigration Office spots a new building, otherwise nothing has changed much in terms of procedures. It's really easy to drive into Thailand. For the Malaysian side, you just need to bring the car registration card. At the Thai side, we just fill up a simple form and that's it. There are no requirements to buy additional Thai Insurance nor having to make a car registration number written in Thai script. After reaching the town, we proceeded straight for lunch. I had a simple rice noodle soup while the rest of the gang had Chicken rice. After scouting for a suitable hotel, we decided to stay at the Grand Mandarin Hotel. It's quite a new hotel with better facilities. At BTH1,380 per night, twin sharing, we thought not too bad, plus complementary breakfast. The room is clean which is very important to me but I can't stand the foul smell of the cigarettes! Chin Aik who speaks a little Thai made a complaint to Housekeeping and wondered if we could change room. But after checking other rooms, they are all smelly. So we had the cleaners open the windows of the room to let out the foul smell and freshen the room up while we went out for a tour of some the local sites.

We headed out for the former communist camp and we had a stop at the Betong  Hot Spring en-route. The place is in bad state of repairs, with algae growing all over the pond. The smell of sulfur was strong. We left after just spending 5 minutes there. While continuing the journey, we chatted happily and suddenly the driver noticed a flash of reserve petrol indicator. Oh Oh. We were running out of petrol. We decided to turn back and at about 4km to the town, we ran out of fuel. Here are four elderly gentlemen with 130 years of driving experience between them running out of fuel in a foreign country in outskirts of town! The Thai people are really friendly. Another friend who speaks some Thai managed to flag down a motorcyclist who offered to help us buy petrol. The picture on your left is the manual style of pumping petrol. We wasted over two hours all in and decided not to proceed with the tour to the former communist camp. As were were all tired and went for a massage instead. I had a foot massage while  my friend decided to give it a miss. The other two friends chose the Thai ancient oil massage. As my massage was short, Chin Aik and I left the massage center for the temples.

The first temple we visited was Wat Puttthathiwat formerly Wat Betong, founded in 1917. This temple is big and nice. There is a golden stupa at the rear end of the temple. That's me spotting a new hair style. On the ground floor of the stupa complex houses a mausoleum which has strong echos. I proceeded to recite by paying Homage to the Buddha and then to the Three Jewels in Pali. Because of the echos, it felt like there are many of us chanting and I felt serene during chanting. After that we went to look for the resident monk for water blessing.

We then proceeded to the Goddess of Mercy temple founded in 1965 where I offered some prayers and lighted oil lamps. We decided to drive around town since this is the first time we are driving there and thought we could get to see more of the local surroundings. For the first time, I managed to see a Caucasian, a rare sight in Betong. I think about 30% of the cars in town belong to Malaysians, especially on weekends. I think it's fair to say 90% of the tourists are Malaysians.

I was tired and we had a simple Thai dinner. After dinner, I went back to hotel to rest while the gang visited the pubs for a drink. I was feeling really cold in the room and switched off the air-condition before proceeding to sleep at about half past nine. I heard the door opening much later but did not wake up to talk to Chin Aik and just continued my sleep.

This morning, we woke up about past 8am and after our morning bath we went for breakfast. The food offerings were reasonable. Then we checked out and went for another temple visit as two the other friends did not get to visit the temples yesterday. After the temple visit, we left for home. Passing through the immigrations of both countries was a breeze at noon. Reached home just past 5.30pm. Only one lunch stop at Leggong where we had the famous fish balls. I must admit I have not been at this place for a very long time and how the size of the fish balls have shrunk.

Some more photos.

The lobby of the Grand Mandarin hotel.

A view of part of Betong town from my hotel room. Noticed the beautiful rolling hills in the background.

Some photos of Wat Puttthathiwat

The place we found ourselves running out of fuel. 4km to the town.

Betong Hot Spring. It's a shame that they didn't build bathing facilities. Bathing in the hot spring water has a relaxing and refreshing effect. In the hot spring water, although the curative effect of the hot springs varies, it's therapeutic.

One unexpected sight while taking a tour of the town in front of the Betong market.

The place where we had lunch today. The restaurant the serves the fish balls. We had fried fish balls, steam fish in soy sauce, stir fried wild ferns in garlic sauce and bitter-gourd with fried eggs. I had my bowl of rice noodle vegetables soup.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Seize The Day

I will write short post today. The pain on my right abdominal area has not shown any sign or abating. I will take the opportunity to stop taking the cimetidine medication while I am Thailand for two days. I will monitor on my  abdominal pain progress. I suspect some bleeding might have occurred inside the abdominal area due to cimetidine. Meanwhile, the pain on my right leg is still bad. I will try soaking my legs with epsom salt in warm water as suggested by Lanie when I come back from Thailand. I am not sure it's a mercury problem. Darn, pain means negative thoughts. More mind work to do.

Cancer Song
I would like dedicate this song called Cancer by My Chemical Romance to everyone that has a friend or family member that is going through cancer. A beautiful number and also the lyrics! I hope your are touched.

Diet and Fitness Game
I got to know of a reader called Christine in February 2011 when she contacted me about her idea of building an application on diet and fitness which she hopes to build into a role playing game. And in between we corresponded for a short while and have not heard from her since July 2011. Yesterday, I was surprised to received an email from her and she said her diet and fitness application is finally ready. Keep your dreams and work on it. I congratulated her for a job well done. You can check out her diet and fitness game site, SlimKicker here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Show Must Go On

I am getting more tired of late and have been wondering why. I think it can be possibly attributed to two sources, my diet and the new medication that I am taking. I have not been eating well lately and I have lost 2.7kg in less than a month. I now weigh 60kgs. Due to insufficient nutrients intake, that's why I am feeling tired. I am now thinking how to increase my weight back.

For bones metastasis, I am taking the drug Boniva starting in April 2012 as part of the gammadelta therapy. It's a once monthly tablet but I think I did not follow the protocol fully when I took the drug. I am also considering taking the intravenous injection of Boniva instead for better absorption. Boniva is originally used to treat or prevent osteoporosis in women after menopause. The side effects of Boniva are are back pain, heartburn, stomach area pain, pain in your arms and legs, diarrhea, headache, muscle pain, and flu-like symptoms. I seems to be experiencing some of the side effects except for heartburn, diarrhea and headache. I was talking to someone in Hospice Malaysia and she addressed me as madam. She said I sound like a lady over the phone! Is it the drugs?

To prevent metastasis and also reduction in tumor, I am taking the drug cimetidine. Cimetidine is originally designed to treat ulcers of the stomach and intestines. Some of the common side effects include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhea and other less common effect includes mental/mood changes (e.g., agitation, confusion, depression, hallucinations), trouble urinating, stomach/abdominal pain, muscle/joint pain, breast swelling/soreness in males, decreased sexual ability (with very high doses of this medication). Long term taking of cimetidine can caused dementia. The following table shows the most common sites of cancer metastasis:

Cancer typeMain sites of metastasis
BreastLungs, liver, bones
ColonLiver, peritoneum, lungs
KidneyLungs, liver, bones
LungsAdrenal gland, liver, lungs
MelanomaLungs, skin/muscle, liver
OvaryPeritoneum, liver, lungs
PancreasLiver, lungs, peritoneum
ProstateBones, lungs, liver
RectumLiver, lungs, adrenal gland
StomachLiver, peritoneum, lungs
ThyroidLungs, liver, bones
UterusLiver, lungs, peritoneum

Source: National Cancer Institute

I am not sure if my current change in physiology is due to the side effects of the new drugs I am taking. I do feel very tired, pain in arms, neck, shoulders, abdomen and loss of weight which is a little abnormal, 2.7kg in less than a month. From the list of side effects of the drugs I am taking, it does seems to suggest that.

My next batch of drugs would be arriving from New York next week. The Cytoxan (cyclophospamide) which is part of the metronomic chemotherapy that I will be taking for lung and lymph node metastasis and also to prevent tumor growth. Nausea and vomiting commonly occur with cyclophosphamide therapy. Anorexia and, less frequently, abdominal discomfort or pain and diarrhea may occur.

As with any medicine, side effects are possible. However, not everyone who takes the medication will experience side effects. In fact, some people tolerate it quite well. When side effects do occur, in some cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by the healthcare provider.

I think when I am already in such a poor health condition, I will just have to bear and manage the side effects for the good of the larger picture especially when they are not of life threatening in nature. My friend, Joanne from New Zealand asked me for Plan B. I don't have a plan B.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Moonlight Sonata

Sometime back, I as planning to visit Southern Thailand. To go to some temples for prayers. But before I could go, there were a series of bombing in Southern Thailand in the Yala provinces. Two weeks after the bombing, I thought it is a good time to visit. I emailed a friend to check out the situation, especially in the Hat Yai town and was told that things are pretty quiet. I was advised to stay away. My own assessment is that once the town has been bombed, you will have quiet and safe days for a year or two. A friend who wanted to go Nakorn Si Thammarat Province to pray at the Phra Mahathat Woramaha Wiharn temple decided a change of venue and drive to Betong, Southern Thailand and asked me whether I was interested. I said yes. There are some beautiful temples (see pic), good and cheap food. It's about 5 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. Only vegetarian food for me.
It's a short trip, leaving very early on Saturday and combing back on Sunday afternoon. There are also some very good food stops along the way, such as Lenggong town which is famous for its fish ball, not your ordinary but huge and bouncy fish balls served at the Khen Pang Restaurant. Then also the famous Loh Dee Wan Tan noodles.

There is another stop, a restaurant in the middle of a Chinese village along the way. I can't remember the name of the village and restaurant that serves very good food but I know how to go there. Sometimes, you can get to eat some exotic fish too depending on the season. If I do stop there this time, I will take a photo. It's been years since I have been there. Wondered if they are still the same?

Have food will travel. I like to travel all over the country with friends and my family to eat. Luckily peninsula Malaysia is blessed with good roads. I have driven North to South, West to East and the coastal roads sampling foods along the way. All in my pre cancer days.

How things can suddenly change, just over night. A day earlier, cancer free and the next day terminal cancer, no cure - there are no medicines for you. It's incomprehensible. Nights are forever now. How do you comfort your heart? How do you tell your loved ones? How should you go on living?

There is one thing that many people forget especially in times of distress. The power of the mind or thought. Weather you live or die, all depends on it. We are all conditioned with our habitual thinking.  Chose your thought wisely. You have to the power to change destiny.  You have the power to visualize like in a fantasy how the story would flow. You decide. Not your doctors or anybody else.

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata was originally named as "Quasi una fanatsia", which basically means "almost a fantasy". The third movement is fierce, the dumping of a spurned lover for another. The metaphor is the dumping of a death thought for the life thought.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Same And Yet Not Same

I noticed some changes in my daily routine. Normally I go to bed past 11pm and wake up about 7.30am. But there are times, I just could not wake up, like this morning. It's already 9.30am and I am still feeling sleepy. Then after 2pm, I felt tired again and would take a nap. Waking up at about 4.30pm, but still feeling very tired. Lately I have feeling very tired, especially in the afternoon. I wonder if this is seasonal. At one time, sleeping problems and now over sleeping. I feel so fresh after a good sleep or nap. 

Cimetidine Replacement
My hypnotherapist has advised me to consider changing  the cimetidine drug to omeprazole as replacement as taking cimetidine on long terms basis could lead to dementia. From documentation, omerprazole has better results than cimetidine for traditional treatment of prepyloric gastric ulcers. Here, I am talking about using the drug as a cancer drug. Can a replacement have the same result?

Histamine is the chemical (neuro-transmitter) your body produces when you're having an allergic reaction. Although there is always some histamine in your body, a mosquito bite (for example), causes your body to release more histamine in the area of the bite, making your skin red and itchy. In extreme cases, histamine levels in someone who is allergic to a bee sting or a particular food like strawberries can be elevated so high that it causes anaphylactic shock and possibly death. Adrenaline (Epinephrine) is the only chemical that can quickly eliminate histamine in a person. So called "antihistamines" like Benadryl only work to block some of your body's histamine receptors (relieving some histamine related symptoms), they do not remove histamine. If you do go into anaphylactic shock (where your organs essentially shut down), it is essential that you are injected with adrenaline immediately to counteract the dangerously high histamine level and prevent death.

Cancer cells like histamine. To a cancer cell histamine is food. There are histamine-receptor antagonists other than cimetidine: ranitidine, nizatidine, famotidine. These had not been studied in the same way as cimetidine and in 1996 the University of New South Wales Department of Surgery team conducted an investigation to see if ranitidine, marketed as Zantac and the biggest selling drug of all time, also inhibited tumour growth in laboratory cancer cell lines and in laboratory mice.  They found that where cimetidine did inhibit cell growth, ranitidine had no effect. This was confirmed and enlarged upon by a similar study from the Ajou Institute for Medical Science, Suwon, Korea where the possible anticancer effects of ranitidine and famotidine were studied. In this study rantidine had a slight effect that didn't reach statistical significance, while famotidine had no effect at all.

The point is not all histamine-receptor antagonists are made alike. What more, we are using the drug for treatment of cancer, not the original purpose for which the drug was designed for.

At the moment, I am still looking for evidence that omerprazole is as effective as cimetidine in cancer therapy. A study published by the Gastroenterology Research Group shows that omeprazole has a cytostatic effect on one (NCI-H716) of three colorectal cancer cell lines but the mechanism for this effect of omeprazole and its potential role in treatment awaits elucidation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Not What It Seems

In my pre cancer days when I was working in the gym, my instructor would always remind me, no pain no gain. But in cancer, no pain is gain. Pain is the payoff in cancer. You get it everyday. I have accepted it but that does not mean I have to be constricted by it. Negative thinking generates pain, among others. I catch all the negative thoughts if possible and deal with it. Dealing with it is not suppressing it. I reflect on it and 'talk' to myself about it. I acknowledge my feelings, release my feelings and then I move on. All this is possible because I am the decision maker. I decide how I want to feel and react. The cancer or the external stimuli is not going to decide for me. I will not allow that. I will not give up my right to decide. So it's therefore possible to experience what you want. You think of positive things, it creates abundance. If you focus on the negative things, you create scarcity. It may sound simple but we tend to forget and instead keep focusing on the negatives, especially so when you have cancer. That's how I managed to keep my positive outlook since the day I discovered my cancer. Not even the prediction of six months life left for me by my doctors could decide for me. I decided that I will do something different.

I managed to meet my friend late afternoon yesterday. And I was surprised to see that his wife's condition has improved so much after just 3 weeks of Hyperthermia therapy (HT) in Germany. When I met her in February 2012 during the Vitamin C IV, she was looking pale and frail. I am very happy that the therapy has managed to improve her condition in such a short time. Although I have read so much about the HT, I only know about the technical points but nothing beats the real experience of a patient. They can tell you things that are not written in the books. They also shared with some ideas which I can use when I decide to go Germany for the treatment. Practical ideas for which I appreciate it very much. Instead of going for a full therapy, I will most likely go for a la carte full hyperthermia and detox therapy and combined with another therapy called dendritic cells therapy at two different clinics in Germany. Also most patients at the clinic in Germany are returning patients, one coming back for the 5th time. My friend told me that a patient needs to have multiple sessions of HT. His wife's first HT session costs around RM70K (US$23K) all in. His wife is going back to Germany this weekend for a second round session. She will be taking only the core therapies, so the costs will come down. This multiple sessions of HT was something I have not thought of before.

I have a strong threshold for pain, so I tend to be able to bear with pain and my own view is that if possible, I will not take any pain killer even when in pain. This is because there are side effects of taking pain killers such as stomach pain, internal bleeding and ulcers. In yesterday's meeting with my friend, I also learned something. I learned another view about pain. While in Germany, the doctor recommend the patient to take pain killer. Why? The doctor said the cancer patient should not waste his or her energy to fight pain. Instead that energy should be used for healing. Why didn't I think of that? It makes quite a lot of sense. When you have cancer, one have to balance the side effects of pain killer and healing of the cancer. Which is better? To get healed first and then deal with the side effects of pain killer. Or worry about the side effects.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Empty Imagination

My coughing today is getting worst. As usual, blood in phlegm. Lately, the cough is also starting to affect the pain on my right leg. Every cough, there is a pull on the nerves on my right leg and makes it so painful when coughing. There are also an increase in pain all over my body. The nerve pain on my right leg shows no signs of improving, possibly getting worst. My orthopedic surgeon said the only option for me at the moment is to have surgery on my lumbar spine. The first orthopedic surgeon did not recommend surgery but to take pain killers for the rest of my life. This is something I have to consider as well. I may have to increase my pain killer dosage to two tablets per day.

I am now looking forward to start my metronomic chemotherapy once the drug arrives from overseas. The metronomic chemotherapy costs only a small fraction of the conventional chemotherapy.  As a reminder, metronomic chemotherapy is NOT the same as conventional chemotherapy. As for IL-2, I am trying to get more information from a friend about the treatment in China. I also hope to learn more about patients' experience with Hyperthermia Therapy in the coming week as another source of treatment for me.

I remember in my younger days (1970s) when I was about 13 to 15 years old, I was watching a lot of Hong Kong and Taiwanese movies then. The price of watching a movie then was cheap. Matinee prices are $0.20 while a normal ticket costs $0.40 and there's a theater called Sentul Theatre, which is walking distance from my house. I would watch alone or with my school friends after school. I remember a Taiwanese movie, the English title was "I Love You Forever" and in that show, the female lead died of leukemia and the male lead told her in his dying arms that he will love her forever. The show ended with the scene of the male lead carrying the body of his love and this scene has been etched in my mind. It was a sad ending love story. What was interesting was that as a young boy, I play out the part of the movie. I didn't know what cancer was only that it's incurable. I imagine I got cancer and what it was like to die shortly. I felt very sad. Would my girlfriend love me like what I saw in the movie? Of course, I had no girlfriend then. It was just my pure imagination. I was a young romantic boy influenced by all these movies that I watched. Little did I know when I grew up 37 years later, I would experience my real cancer. It's so different from the movies. It's not romantic at all in real life. It's very painful. It's full of suffering. You may not die peacefully. Some attempted suicide. The real life experience is life changing. I learn to appreciate life and not to take things for granted.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Castles In The Air

For the last few days, by the time evening came, I would be feeling a little down. Part of the reason is due the pain. I have resisted taking any pain killer during the day. After dinner, I would normally pop in a pain killer and I will feel better after that. I am in no mood to take dinner but I was also feeling very hungry. I was also tired and decided to take dinner later. I took a rest and I think I fell asleep for about an hour or so. After waking up,  I didn't feel like taking dinner, so made a cup of oat drink and took a few biscuits to ease my hunger. I am still feeling a little moody (due to loss of my friend) and a part of me is still in slumber land.

Yesterday, I contacted my doctor in New York and submitted my blood test and some other data to him so that he could prescribe the metronomic chemo drug to me. I have not been successful in getting the drug locally as I found out that most pharmacies and hospitals do not stock this drug anymore. It's a very old drug. As for IL-2 (Interleukin-2), although I am able to sourced them overseas, I am not sure how to bring the drug into the country. I have a few options. The first is that I go to China personally and bring the drug in say once every two weeks. The second option is that I import the drug directly and take a chance that the customs department will not impound the drug upon arrival. The third option is that I go to China to seek treatment. Apply for a one year visa and look for a place to stay close to the clinic. As for my caregiver, hire a local person. None of the options looks attractive enough though option three seems to be doable.

I will be meeting someone, hopefully sometime next week to learn more about Hyperthermia. He just came back with his wife after a three week treatment in Germany. He met three other Malaysian  families while at the clinic. I am eager to learn about his wife's experience as well as the other families as it would affect my decision whether to go Germany to seek treatment or not. It is unlikely I would be able to get IL-2 treatment for now (the options however remain open in the future), so Hyperthermia therapy seems to be my best bet for now.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Goodbye Girl

Today is a sad day for me. I got news that my stage 4 lung cancer friend that was warded in the University Hospital on 29 February 2012 has passed on seven days after admission. She has lost her voice and we 'talked' exclusively via email. Being my senior in cancer, she was always helpful in suggesting therapies and sharing her experience. One therapy that she shared was HIFU for which I went to China for treatment last December. Another is Hyperthermia therapy for which I am also considering taking the treatment. I have one less mutual friend to share our pain. I always feel emotional when losing such friends. It's through her I also met some other cancer patients who were so willing to share their experience with me, particularly on Hyperthermia therapy. May she rest in peace. I will miss her.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Today is a public holiday in Malaysia. This is to commemorate the installation of the 14th Supreme Head of Malaysia (Malay: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Malaysia) or most would call the King of Malaysia, not an exact equivalent translation. Malaysia has a unique system in the world where the nine Sultans of the Malay States would elect a reigning Sultan of one of the nine Malay States to sit in the throne for a period of five years, to be rotated so that each Sultan would have an opportunity to sit on the throne.

For me, there is no difference whether today is a public holiday or not. Life goes on for me, just like yesterday, today or tomorrow, when it comes. However, I do enjoy the easy traffic as everyone is taking a rest and the roads are not congested. After lunch, I was feeling really tired. I have not felt like that for a long time. So I went for a rest and slept for the most of the afternoon and only woke up about 6pm. I thought of continuing to sleep but I have to wake up for dinner. I was also coughing. As usual with blood in the phlegm. Yesterday, I was doing a little exercise on my right leg lying down and I did something stupid. I bent my knee a little too much and I got a sharp excruciating pain. My right leg has been feeling painfully sore since then. I feel weak and experiencing bone pain around my left shoulder region. Not surprising since the cancer has spread to my bones. I think the pain on my body is getting more serious. After dinner, I took a pain killer. A painful day for me as a whole. I think it's time I re-look at pain management more seriously. Maybe, I will register with hospice.

Today is my 31st month in the journey. After sleeping so much in the afternoon, I think I will have a no sleep night.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

After Darkness Comes Light

I have a story to share. Yesterday, my friend came over and we went out for brunch. I have known her for about 2 over years now. She had breast cancer about 6 years ago and went into remission about three years ago. During her pre-cancer days, she was running a small noodle stall supporting a family of three (other half and a daughter). The other half was a dreamer, always thinking how to make it big in business. Without much capital and knowledge of the business, he insisted into going into business and twice it failed. So the wife have to sell properties to pay off some debts. As if not enough, he held no regular jobs after that, hung out mainly in bars and was involved with some China dolls. She was so stressed having to earn a living and take care of the family. This has been going on for 10 years. Due to insufficient sleep, she was involved in two accidents while driving. Meanwhile her sister has suggested that she leave her husband. Her mother was not supportive preferring her to stay in marriage. Being the timid women she was then, she hung on to the marriage out of fear. She said she struggled for 10 years and still could not decide to leave the marriage. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer and got no help from her other half. It was this cancer that she got her realisation and decided to divorce her husband. I told her that was the best thing she did and even before her breast cancer, she was having spouse cancer! Together with the support of her sister, she went through chemotherapy all by herself. At that time, she told me she has no money in her bank account. She had to borrow from her sister. She regretted that she bought one apartment that was registered in her husband's name. Obviously when the apartment was sold, the money did not go to her. Luckily for some insurance payment, she used part of the money for treatment and balance of it to buy another apartment. I told her that by divorcing her husband, it helped her in the cancer recovery, a changing point in her life. Breast cancer are normally associated with problems with the other half or family members. Her finances became better as she now have only one daughter to support. Although she has not achieved financial independence yet, she is on her way. Her daughter is now grown up and working. Incredible women having gone through so much pain and hurt in her life. Beaming with happiness and confidence now, she is enjoying her new lease of life.

I told her when we next meet for lunch, we will celebrate life and her freedom. Some old memories still haunt her. For example, she drives a manual car instead of an automatic drive. Her memories of the car accident during her relationship with her ex husband. She said that period was one low point in her life. A friend once told me, the gift of awakening is the best gift in life one can have. I told her that too. While you can't change history, we can at least learn from it. Taking the first step to change oneself is the most difficult. It demands not only courage but a lot of will power.

Monday, April 9, 2012

All I Have To Do Is Dream

I think most people dream and many people are able to remember their dreams. I have two recurring dream themes. The first dream happens often. I can pick up a dream where I left off even after I wake up. I frequently dream I can fly. Yes, without wings, just using my bare hands. I can go anywhere and in total control. Not much effort is required, just flap my hands. Because it's so full of fun, I always like to be in such a dream and maybe that's why I can continue the dream. So far, I have not kept any details of the dream, like where I have been when flying to. I have always wondered what this dream meant. So finally my curiosity got the better of me. I search on the net and this found that flying dreams typically illustrate your sense of freedom and feeling liberated from the constraints of everyday life. It sounds like you have just accomplished some project and feel like a big burden has been lifted off your shoulders. Flying dreams are so glorious and liberating that you may not want to come back down to earth ( I find this interpretation interesting because I always yearn for freedom in a part of me even at a very young age.

The other dream is less frequent. I dream I am falling from high ground. I don't get to see the end like falling onto the ground, because by then I would have woken up with a jolt. Only dream of falling in midair. According to,  falling in your dream is the most frequent among all the common dreams we experience in our lifetime. Researchers say the average human will dream about falling to his death more than 5 times in their life.  Falling dreams can be extremely frightening vivid experience that usually last minutes before you hit the ground. Dreams of this nature can make you break out in a cold sweat and ruin most of your day. Falling in your dream should not be over looked, this is a important dream symbol that needs your undivided attention in order to figure out the true meaning. When we fall in our dreams it really means we have lost control with some sort of situation in your life. Falling in your dream is a way your unconscious communicates with your conscious to let you know that something needs to be fixed right away. The more you ignore the issue in your life the higher chance you will plummet to your death in your dream. I can now relate to this dream better on hindsight. My cancer! The dream was telling me way in advance before my cancer was found, that I have lost control of my health. Of course, the dream can also possibly be linked to other areas like work, home or even in your relationship.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, a psychiatrist named Montague Ullman rocked the comfort zone of his colleagues by starting a worldwide movement that significantly changed the way people view their dreams. Known today as peer dreamwork, Ullman’s technique is used to explore the feelings and potential meaning of a dream. Before the movement, dreams were considered diagnostic tools that therapists used to reveal what types of problems their patients might have. Ullman believed that, though dreams may be useful in that regard, they are far more than diagnostic tools.

Ullman is also famous for a theory he called dream vigilance. He noticed that as many as three-quarters of the dreams people reported to him were unsettling or downright troubling. Yet the dreamers who were telling these dreams were not unstable and were not really in any objective trouble. He realized that the dreaming process tends to focus on threats to our happiness long before anything bad actually happens. A part of the mind is like a watchful sentinel in a tower, looking into the distance to see whether any enemies or threats appear on the horizon.

Dream therapists analyze and interpret dreams to find meanings that apply to everyday life. Therapists say dreams are a link to the subconscious, and learning how to understand them is key to understanding yourself. "You're finding your inner voice," explains Alan Siegel, a clinical psychologist who works with children and adults. "If you can learn more about the symbols in your dreams, then you can get more of a sense of what direction to go in."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Life's Four Seasons

I am not sure if it was due to my coughing problem on Friday. I was very tired yesterday and spent most of my time lying down. The abdominal area was a little painful but I stayed away from the pain killer. So I was rather in a sombre mood for most of the day. When evening came, I felt the energy deserted me, the pain enhanced. I took a pain killer. As I laid slumbered in the couch, I anticipated the arrival of the magical moment when all my pain disappears from my body. I woke up. It was only a dream. After a night of no sleep, I found myself sleeping at every available opportunity. I am really really tired. Later I took a pain killer.

As the pain killer does its job, I felt a bit more alive. It was already past midnight then. As I wind down, I listened to some classical music, Vilvadi's Four Seasons. We also have the four seasons of life. I like how The Redhead Riter summarises the four seasons:

In the Spring, life begins with everything new and full of hope.
Innocence, laughter and carefree abandonment fill each day.
The nuance of being alive is celebrated continually with no thought of the future.

Summer arrives with laughter, learning, sunshine and phenomenal growth.
Choices are abundant and the opportunities are spread before us like a feast.
We learn about relationships, love, abandonment, neglect and the pain of letting go.
In between the joys, we discover that there is nothing greater than love’s fulfillment.

In the Fall we begin to relax expectations with a clearer perspective of the past and future.
Some give up the battle to change or improve, remaining stagnant, while others continue excitedly learning.

Winter arrives with wrinkles in soft skin that show regrets, accomplishments and wisdom.
The path has narrowed and the life we chose stretches behind us as a legacy.

Let your story be rich with loving relationships, laughter, joy and a journey of happiness.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Life As It Is

If you have noticed, I have shifted my emphasis from physical therapy to mental therapy over time. This is because physical therapy are fixed therapies, you just need to comply with the requirements. Most of it are easy to follow with the exception of perhaps, the diet. We all know that when the students study hard, they should be able to get straight As. Yet the results shows only 1% of them get the results. It's not the books that are no good but the mindset of the students. Likewise, it's not just the therapy. Cancer patients' key is the mindset. The therapy may be good but if the mindset of the patient is not there, he or she will not perform well. That's why it is important to treat the mind as part of the cancer therapy.

Well, the previous two posts and I have not used the words "if" and "don't". I believe it's possible to train oneself to change. Since I started working over 32 years ago, I have not used the "F" word  no matter how angry I am. Before I am been mistaken, I am not judging here. I just want to say it's possible to reprogram the mind.

Yesterday evening, it was challenging for me. After dinner, I started to cough again. Each cough taking place between 5 and 20 minutes intervals. I tried very hard to calm myself down and not to cough. As at 12.50am, it still shows no sign of stopping. I started taking some TCM  pills. Fresh blood after each cough. I have to get it to stop by the time I go to bed. Otherwise, it will be another no sleep night for me. I ended up in bed at 5am. My hypnotherapist said when my hemoglobin drops below 6, I should seek treatment immediately to prevent heart failure in the long run. My family GP recommended me to take blood transfusion. My blood type is AB, so its easy for me to get any blood type. Keeping this option open for the time being. I will have to get my brother to donate blood back as replacement unless I go to government hospitals. I have a passbook that records my blood donations during my pre cancer days.

Incidentally, during this time, the pain from my abdominal area become more pronounced. I told my hypnotherapist the location of the pain and she said that it's near the colon area. I will probably go for an ultrasound scan to check on it. I took a pain killer as it gave me a quick relief. Despite all these negative developments, I am taking it all in my stride. Who says life was a bed of roses?

Yesterday, it was also a sad day for me after I quarreled with my mother. But today, we are all buddies again. There is this thing called unconditional love. I am now reading a book called The Lost Art of Listening by Michael P. Nichols, PhD. This book is a good read and I would recommend you to read (based on what I read so far). In the book, I saw many of the mistakes that I made during conversations (including texting) with my friends, family members and all the people I come to interact with. It will improve your relationship with everyone.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mother's Love

My coughing has deteriorated today. I was coughing profusely since lunch time and every now and then. Each time, I would cough out fresh blood. So I tried my best not to cough and also took some TCM pills to control the coughing. My brother and sisters came over and as usual, I adjourned for lunch with them and then catch up on the week's activities.

My meeting with my hypnotherapist was good. We had a good discussion. She was really nice to take sometime off from her family schedule and also from her studies to see me. A qualified medical doctor, she is sitting for her exams to become a cancer specialist. Two hours is really short and time flies. Three to four hours would be better. Funny, I don't feel at all it's a therapy session and yet it is. Anyway, I hope to see her again, maybe once a month in view of her tight schedule. Oh, she told me to eliminate "if" and "don't" from my writings. I am trying. My hypnotherapist also told me to change the drug cimetidime to omeprazole. Cimetidime when used long term, causes dementia. I planned to use cimetidime for up to two years, which according to the documentation is safe. I am now reading up on omeprazone.

I had a quarrel with my mother today. It's like when your mother is interfering in a relationship you are having with a girl. Though the relationship may not be working out so well, but at least you still one to give it a shot. Then mother comes and introduce another girl, telling you how good the girl is. Then you say no and guess what? She introduces another girl. Of course, this is not about the girl but about the therapy I am doing but I hope you get the idea. I have told her not to introduce anymore treatment to me. Every time she hears from a friend about a treatment, she wants me to try it. Even people she don't know, like today some people came to ask for some donation for another cancer patient. This person just told her how this cancer therapy managed to save the grandfather, the father and now they are collecting the money for the son, three generations in a family that got cancer. I told my mother I appreciate her well meaning gesture but she can't expect me to try every cancer treatment that she hears. Actually, we talked about this so many times already. I know she wants me to get well but  that's not the way I told her. I told her I know what I am doing in an irritating voice. I told her that she is putting a lot of pressure on me. When I try and when my condition get worst, I am sure she will blame herself for it. Most times, there are no documentation, I don't even know what I am taking in, it's pure faith. But when I don't try, she feels disappointed. Upset with me, she said she will not care about me anymore, wiping off some tears from her eyes. Sigh... I am not one of those who will try anything just to save myself even when I have run out of alternatives. I have also done the best I can to help myself. I can accept when my end is near. But meanwhile, I enjoy everyday that comes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Start Listening to The Self

For some reason, I cannot settle down to sleep last night. So I took the opportunity to write this post. I am glad I will be meeting with my hypnotherapist later today for a session. I have almost forgotten about her. In times like these, it will be helpful to talk to someone. I need to talk to her a lot more times. I still have a few old issues to resolve. Incidentally, I have been reading a lot of self help books for the past week. I finished 2 books and in the midst of reading another. At the same time in the night, just before I sleep, I am listening to Dr Wayne Dyer's Inner Wisdom to learn about personal and spiritual growth. Besides the physical therapies, training the mind is equally important. There is this ego that is in me. It has a agenda of its own, a twisted agenda. I have to shut it down. It’s also possible to use the word ego in a positive way, as in “I wish I had a strong ego like you”. But this is call positive quality “self-worth”, but for most part the ego label equates to the negative part of the psyche.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Thoughts as I learned from Dr Wayne Dyer is the only inheritance one can have. It does not dies. Thoughts are what you are. Your relationship with parents, spouse, friends or anybody are experienced through the mind which are your perceptions of what they are. Thoughts are important. It's also the most important thing a person has and every action a person do has roots in the thoughts. Positive or negative emotions are preceded by thoughts. The brain release certain chemicals like endorphins when you think positively and some other chemicals that may causes diseases when you think negatively. What causes the chemistry to change? Yes, it's the thoughts. Dr Dyer also mentions about scarcity of life. When a person focuses on what's missing in one's life, that's because that person is thinking too much of what's missing in his or her life. That person is acting on the scarcity consciousnesses which makes things worst. Instead one should focus and be grateful of what one has, that's prosperity consciousnesses which creates abundance. This is very relevant for cancer patients. To focus on whatever treatment that he or she is currently doing.  He said "if you have cancer, you got it." The important thing is not to blame but take responsibility i.e. response with ability. The positive thoughts will contribute to healing.

Today I am coughing fresh blood again but for a short 15 minutes period of time only. I must control my coughing so that I don't continue to cough fresh blood out. I took some TCM pills and it seems to have helped. Death scares me no more. It just another transformation. I am smiling actually. I am focusing on the good thoughts while I having a lunch chat with a friend. I have now to enjoy and tomorrow has not arrive yet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Self Therapy

I just got my latest blood test results. There are some good and bad news. The bad news are some old items such as my hemoglobin, RBC and PCV , HDL cholesterol and GGT levels are out the range. Two new items, the lymphocytes and ALP are also now out of range. The good news is that my ESR, Erythrocytes and Urea are now back in range. The ALP could be due to my bone metastasis. I am continuing to lose blood and now considered moderate anemic. My ESR improved possibly due to the kidney tumor ablation. Need to increase my intake of B12 because the red cells shows poikilocytosis and also liquid chlorophyll to increase my RBC.

Anyway, I will be sending my blood test results to my doctor in New York so that he can prescribe the dosage for the metronomic chemo treatment for me. Metronomic chemotherapy is not the same as conventional chemotherapy not only in terms of the methodology of treatment but also how the treatment works. I hope to start the metronomic chemo treatment as early as possible in the hope to control the lung and bone metastasis. Since I am having trouble getting cyclophosphamide, I will have to request my doctor from New York to prescribe the medication and then ship to me. As for IL-2, I will contact my friend more more information on how to bring the drug back to Malaysia from China.

Reading all the available alternative therapies from the various sources in the Internet does give cancer patients some hope. However, the more difficult part of the treatment is where to get that drug and/or supplement? In my case, I was lucky because of a reader from Hong Kong introduced me to her doctor in New York where I could get some help. But if you are on your own, it can be really frustrating. I have been asking around and all I get are blank answers. This morning, I received a text message from a reader and she sent me a link and told me that she don't understand what the article says and she felt really hopeless. She wanted to me explain to her what that article meant so that she could learn something from the article to help her 82 year old mother who is suffering from cancer. I can understand this feeling because I have been there before. Sometimes, I just wanna to give up, throw in the towel. The frustration can turn into despair and a feeling of hopelessness if not dealt with correctly. Why must there be challenges on every step of the way?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Staying Alive

Yesterday, I was visiting my friend, Yeong's house. I have not been in touch with him for a while, so I thought I would just pay a visit. His wife, Khadijah bought me two bars of natural soap. The soap is refreshing change for me. When I was there, I met another cancer patient who had dropped by to seek consultation with Yeong. He was diagnosed with nose cancer in 2008 and had three courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments over a three year period. According to him, there was a period of time when he was cleared of all tumor even after it has spread to the back of his left eyeball but only for a brief period. Within less than two months, his cancer returned to the back of his left eyeball. The doctors says he can't do anymore radiotherapy and he refused to do chemotherapy as the lone treatment. He said his body's immune system has already compromised with the treatments. He felt he has no chances at all. He has seen his friend died a few months earlier from chemotherapy. What so interesting about this case is that he is adamant about conventional treatment and suddenly he lost faith in it. Also, he came to try alternative treatment and wanted a quick and effective fix. Yeong said herbal therapy is unlike chemotherapy and will take a longer time to recover. There are no guarantees. Also he has such fixed views that he is not open to other people's suggestion. Anyway, I wish him luck in his quest for alternative therapy.

Since I quit work 30 months ago, I have received one job offer and three head hunters prospecting me for senior management positions. Yesterday, I received another call from a head hunter. I don't know whether I should feel happy or sad about it. In my pre-cancer days when I was looking for a work change, I did not received a single call. Anyway, I view this as a positive development. Some people still remembers me in the market and it's boost for my self esteem. Actually, I am so eager to go back to employment, if I can. For me to do that, I need to get my health back.

My friends says I look much better now compared to a few months ago. I believe the HIFU treatment did have a positive impact on my health. After all, a 12cm tumor ablation must have lessen the burden in my body. I do feel good, just minor healing pain around the right abdominal area. Now with the introduction of new therapies, I hope to contain the situation. I now weigh 62.7kgs. If I take meat in my diet, I can guarantee a 5kg increase within a month!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A New Start

I started the gammadelta therapy yesterday. I have to time the starting of this new therapy because I have to chose a date that I could easily remember. This is a once monthly 150mg tablet. It's easier to remember to take the tablet on the 1st of every month. The drug is ibandronic acid (commercially sold as Boniva). The tablet should be taken on the same date each month, in the morning after an overnight fast (at least six hours) and before the first food, drink or medicine of the day. The tablet should be swallowed whole with a glass of plain water (180 to 240ml, not mineral water) while you are sitting or standing in an upright position. Do not crush, chew or suck the tablet.

Ibandronic acid belongs to a group of drugs called bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates are commonly used to treat bone thinning (osteoporosis). In certain situations, they can help protect your bones against some of the effects of secondary bone cancer, such as pain and weakness. Secondary bone cancer occurs when the original (primary) cancer spreads to form a secondary cancer (metastasis) in the bone. Ibandronic acid can be given alongside other cancer treatments. It may be given to women with breast cancer that has spread to the bones. It can be used to prevent and treat problems caused by secondary bone cancer and to reduce a raised calcium level in the blood. As a result of secondary bone cancer, calcium, which helps strengthen the bones, can be lost from the damaged bone and seep into the bloodstream. A raised level of calcium in the blood is known as hypercalcaemia. This can cause symptoms such as feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting), tiredness, irritability and sometimes confusion. Ibandronic acid helps reduce high levels of calcium. Secondary cancer in the bones may make them weak, and in some situations they may break (fracture). Ibandronic acid helps strengthen the bone and reduce the risk of fractures. It also helps reduce pain in the bones.

Last night, I was feeling a little warm around both my legs. It was a funny feeling, disturbing but not the extent of being uncomfortable. Stayed up late a little bit and listened to some music to relax. Yesterday afternoon, a friend from Australia and a group of friends visited me. We adjourned to a nearby shopping mall for drinks and chat. We celebrated life because a few of our friends passed away recently without warning. It's great to be alive and kicking.

I would like to take a moment to make a dedication to Hong Kong singer/actor, Leslie Cheung who died on 1 April, 2003. He took his life as lovers often do. This world was never meant to be for one as beautiful as you (taken from Don McLean's Vincent).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Within Me Still Remains

Despite trying to lead a normal life as much as possible, I think sometimes I push myself too hard. On one hand, I want to continue to remain positive in the hope that my current situation can turn for the better, and just maybe there is a remote silver lining of remission. On the other hand, the odds of remission are just stacked against me. So do I want to live normally and do normally things like as if I got all the time in the world? Why do cancer patients do up the bucket list? There are so many things to do and so little time left. So is it reasonable to take a different approach to life? Concentrate on what's is important to me and fulfill some dreams before it's too late. Would this kind of action be construed as selfish? Some people say we should live life for others.

Albert Schweitzer, a doctor, an academic, a philosopher, and a humanitarian said, “Live richer and happier lives by living for others.” The harder part that Schweitzer speaks of is that to live for others, we must overcome our natural human desire to put ourselves first and to fight back whenever we feel an injustice has been enacted against us. Acting in a selfless manner every day is one of the hardest things for humans to do.  Behavioral analyst, Wayne Kehl asserts that as human beings are imperfect and they all live in an imperfect world but if they choose to accept the world and the people on it for what they are, while living to be of service and solace to others, our lives will be gloriously enriched. He said instead of living for ourselves and taking things that others do personally, we will serve ourselves and others well by taking a pause before a negative reaction and asking ourselves, “Is it worth it? Or...will negativity make the situation better?” When you are able to answer NO to both of those questions you will be on the pathway to living for others and your life will be on the verge of being richer and happier.

Some four months back, I attended a seminar and spoke to a lady (aged late forties) during the break. She said she spends a lot time time helping others. Then I ask her, what is her motivation for helping others. She said to get away from her own family problems.

When you have terminal illness then how do you chose to live? Put self interest first or other people's interest first? A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying and they are: 

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.    

The nurse said "when people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

Many times, I find myself in conflict. To fulfill the unfulfilled dreams is a selfish action. I like to do something for myself. Even with terminal illness, I feel the restriction. I have to think of other people's feeling because some of the things I want to do, they would not approve of it. Yet to lead a meaningful life that is acceptable to many, I may have to give up some of my dreams. Why? Not just because some of the unfulfilled dreams are mutually exclusive, but also of the health and time factor. I no longer have health and time. I have to chose. According to Dr Gordon Livingston, a psychiatrist, in an effort to seem closer to our ideal selves we all employ some level of deceit in constructing the narrative of our lives. It is common to invent a story of ourselves that contains examples of admirable behavior. We want to look good and have people to approve of our behavior. This is how we are brought up and how society around us expect us to behave. This is not to say we blame other people for our own woes. To live the way we want, we need to have courage to change. We need to be brave. We need to go against the norm. Yet it's so easier said than done. Otherwise it won't be the top regret of dying.