Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Creating A New Path

Yesterday, I went for my IV Vitamin C (IVVC) + B12 therapy. I am doing IVVC twice a week, each time 45g of Vitamin C or 90g per week. My doctor was happy to see me and I am also very happy to see him. He said I look about the same as that last time he saw me about three months ago. My doctor said, the IVVC will enhance the effectiveness of metronomic chemotherapy but at the same time reduces the side effects. I was feeling very thirsty during the IVVC and the nurse gave me a lot of water to drink. This evening I was not only feeling a little chilly and feverish, but a bit of pain around my stomach region as if small needles was being poked around the area. My doctor said after the IVVC, I could have this chilly feeling. This can be managed by wearing additional clothing or using hot water packs. I will monitor the progress of therapy goes before I decide to increase the dosage to three times a week.

I have been resting a lot of late and in particular since I came back from Thailand. I have been napping in the afternoons. The only problem is the pain from the abdomen area. So, as usual the painkillers to the rescue. I am quite happy not just because I am still alive but I feel good. I think my current therapies are helping.

I have already planned my next trip to China which will take place around the third week of August. This is the first time I will be traveling with my parents as well as my siblings to visit our ancestral village in Dabu, Meizhou. Being of Hakka heritage, I thought it was good for us to visit our ancestral homes and see how people live there. Sample the Hakka food and see the differences, if any to the food that my mother cooked here. I was told the Dabu Hakka spoken there is authentic while the Dabu Hakka that I speak has been mixed with Cantonese. Of course, not forgetting to visit the Hakka Tulou or earth dwellings.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Food Glorious Food

I just came back from an enjoyable trip to Betong, Thailand. There were 11 of us traveling in 3 cars. Traffic along the North South Highway was quite heavy. Driving in Betong is pleasurable because there are not many cars on the road and everyone is not rushing.  I did not exert myself very much during the trip. However, I did walk a bit and my legs are a little sore. Otherwise, I felt good. I think it's good to get away from my daily routine once in a while. I am still afraid of the cold. The air-conditioner in my room were just a bit too strong for me after my bath and during the nights. So my friend who is my roommate has to bear with me as I set the room temperature to about 25°C during the nights. Luckily he slept very well on both nights and were not affected by the warmer room temperature.

The trip was free and easy with no itinerary planned other than the destination and the place to stay. I was lucky to have booked the rooms earlier as I was informed during check-in that no rooms were available to those who did not booked. The reason was that there were 3 bus loads of Malaysian tourists who were also staying at the same hotel. Besides going for prayers, this was also a  gourmet trip. Though I could not partake in many of the foods, I am happy that my friends enjoyed themselves very much.

Last Saturday was a bad night for me as I was retiring to bed, the pain from my abdomen became unbearable. I had to take double painkillers to control the pain but that resulted in drowsiness and I had some problems sleeping and only managed to fall asleep past 3.30am. But last night, I slept well. I did not even wake up for my night urine and I felt recharged this morning.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Calm After the Rain

One of the therapies that I am revisiting is the IV vitamin C (IVVC) therapy. According to a report published by The Center for Improvement Functioning, International, Inc., Bio-Communications Research Institute which for over 15 years studied high dose intravenous ascorbic acid (IAA) as an adjunctive therapy for cancer patients. They found that ascorbic acid is preferentially toxic to tumor cells suggesting that it could be useful as a chemotherapeutic agent. Summarising approximately 50 patients with cancer, they concluded that tumor cells are more susceptible to the effects of high-dose, ascorbate-induced peroxidation products because of a relative catalase deficiency and concentrations of ascorbate high enough to kill tumor cells likely can be achieved in humans. Certain cancers may not respond so well to IAA therapy. They also highlighted two cases of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer), considered a uniformly untreatable disease. Because the results were so dramatic, people with this disease could potentially benefit from most from IAA treatment. You can read the full report here.

I will be re-starting my IVVC therapy (two times a week),  later today and see how it goes from there. I like to work this friendly doctor which I am currently seeking treatment for my IVVC therapy.

My current stock of oxycodone hydrochloride painkillers is running out and one of my doctor has recommended codeine sulfate as replacement. Codeine sulfate is a water-soluble salt of monomethylmorphine, an alkaloid derived from opium. I just realised that I need to have a constant supply of painkillers. What I discovered is that every time I run out of supplies, I will have to visit the hospital and get a prescription and then buy from the hospital pharmacy. My regular pharmacist does not stock or sell those opioid derived painkillers. Painkillers are now part of my regular diet. I was wondering whether there is an easier way where I can get my supply of painkillers.

All it's not so bad. I am going for another short trip again, also to Betong, Southern Thailand. My friends have invited me to be their guide and this time, we are going with a slightly bigger group. I will be away this weekend and only back on Monday.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ramblings of a Crazy Man

I have been wondering why my legs and sometimes my hands twitch suddenly while I am drifting to sleep. This happen rather frequently of late. These twitches are known as hypnic jerks. According to psychologist Tom Stafford, as we give up our bodies to sleep, sudden twitches escape our brains, causing our arms and legs to jerk. They represent the side effects of a hidden battle for control in the brain that happens each night on the cusp between wakefulness and dreams. Hypnic jerks seem to be a sign that the motor system can still exert some control over the body as sleep paralysis begins to take over. Rather than having a single “sleep-wake” switch in the brain for controlling our sleep (i.e. ON at night, OFF during the day), we have two opposing systems balanced against each other that go through a daily dance, where each has to wrest control from the other. Whatever the explanation, I feel uncomfortable and a little painful every time I experience the hypnic jerks. And it looks like there is nothing much I can do about it.

Yesterday, I have been experiencing pain attacks all over my body. Not just my right abdominal area buy my ribs, my back, stomach and pelvic area too. It was very bad towards the evening. I have to take a double dose of painkillers to control the pain. Every time the pain comes, my mind is filled with negative thoughts. These are the times I feel vulnerable. I question my own ability to sustain these onslaught of pain. And a host of other negative questions. At the same time, my mind is also dull and I feel sleepy and tired. And as usual, I would spent a lot of time lying down to rest.

I have also been felling feverish and chills over my body. I am not sure if these are the side effects of the metronomic chemotherapy that I am now taking. I am due to take a blood test to check on my RBC and I have scheduled it for tomorrow morning.

My project to gain weight is not very successful. I am still having some problems with digestion and as such, I have not been eating much, just enough to sustain for the day. And I have also been taking mostly liquid food such as rice porridge and oatmilk. Sometimes I feel hungry but when I start to eat, I can eat only a little.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Overcoming Negative Thoughts

My pain seems to have worsen as time progressed. When pain strikes, there is little I can do but to reach for the painkiller. I have been spending a lot of time for the past year and a half on re-framing my mind because I recognised that it the key to living. You see, when you have cancer, when your therapy is working well, everything is fine. You are happy. But when your therapy does not work, then you will realise the mind will start to waiver. You will worry. When the pain sets in, you becomes desperate. When I started my cancer journey, I was pain free for almost the first two years. After that, it was downhill all the way. Besides my own experience, I have also read it in other cancer patients' blog.

I do not believe in hiding behind some work to keep myself busy or watching movie or listening to some songs to keep my mind off cancer. This is because I view such activities as nothing more than escapism. Sooner or later you come back to reality and face it again. When you are a cancer patient whose condition is progressing like me, I believe it would be best to confront it. When I confront, I do not mean I fight it. I recognised and accept my condition. Then I can focus on what I can do to improve my own situation.  Because I have come to accept my own cancer condition, I do not view my cancer as an obstacle or that I will feel sad when I think about my cancer. If fact I am so open to cancer, I can talk about it to anyone without affecting my mind. I also get talk to a lot of new cancer patients and during all my conversations with them, I would try to encourage them and share some of my thoughts. I also had the privilege to counsel a few stage 4 cancer patients just before they passed away. Except for one who was a friend, I do not know the rest of the patients. These patients have very good family support and also strong faith in their respective religion.Yet after having cancer for so long, they have not fully accepted their cancer. They are afraid to talk about it because they have been avoiding the issue. No friends or family members dare to talk about it. Actually, they also don't know how to go talking about it. They still cry and feel pitiful on their death bed. These hurtful emotions are buried deep inside the body and need to be heard and then dealt with. Only when these hurtful emotions are released would the heart find peace and dying becomes easier.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Breaking Rules and Taking Risks

Last night at about 11pm, I had a pain attack again. The right abdominal area at the moment is giving much of the dull pain. I quickly took a painkiller and it helped a bit but after the hour, I reaslised that the pain is not going to go away. So, I waited for a while longer before I took the stronger Oxynorm painkiller. By then, it was already 1am. This is one a type of medicine called an opioid painkiller that is related to morphine. It gives instant relief and soon, my pain was under controlled. I don't like to take such strong pain killers because it dulls my mind and puts me in a drowsy mode. This drug is addictive just like taking morphine. But I guess when I am using it for pain management, I have to take the risk. This is why I only take it on a need basis. I could not sleep well as I was a little high on the drug, hallucinating and my mind was spinning. I remember smiling, feeling happy and gay. This morning, I have a hangover.

Since I started taking the painkillers on a regular basis, I found myself resting and sleeping much more. Between the hours of 10am to 12 noon and 2pm to 6pm, I would be lying down resting and most times, falling asleep. I am now adverse to cold. The warm weather acted like a comforter for me. However, I was sweating profusely but that did not bothered me. I felt like a baby, appreciating the rest I was getting.

My appetite has improved slightly after I started taking sourish things such as pineapple. I also started taking brown rice porridge instead and this helped in the digestion. Since I started the Gerson diet after having cancer, I have been able to follow the diet religiously. Of late, I have been breaking some of the diet rules. I am taking steamed fish to improve my weight. A few days back, I was craving for a simple dish called Hokkien fried big noodles at about 11pm in the night! I never had such cravings before. The battle of the mind began. Of course, in the end, I did not give in. But I have been wondering why I am having such cravings? Is it a signal from my body that I need some change? Heck, I told myself. I will take a break.

The word “cravings” is not code for lack of willpower. Cravings could be signs of hormonal issues, which are often tied to inadequate nutrition. Some of these imbalances even involve the neurotransmitters in the brain. A third option traces cravings to issues with adrenal function. Cravings mean that the body has its signals mixed up. When you are tired or sad, you will have low blood sugar and/or low serotonin (a “feel-good” brain neurotransmitter). Hormonal imbalance or weak digestion can lead to low serotonin.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Putting The Mind To Work

It must have seemed to some of you that I may have given up on my cancer. It's far from it. I am not going to "fight" the cancer anymore. It's really tiring having to fight the cancer everyday, the moment that I wake up. When you fight, no matter who wins, both party loses. This business of having to fight is so energy zapping.  A cancer friend who used to pray for me would used words like "curse the cancer" and so forth. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate her prayers but when you curse something, your mind is full of hatred and anger. The mind is filled with negative thoughts about the cancer. I am already taking some therapies and since I have faith in the therapies, I will just let the therapies take it's course. I will not want to engaged in another fight, which in my opinion is more damaging to my body and mind.

In the past, I used to say fight this cancer and it has not done me any good. Every few months, I would go for a CT scan and then find out whether the cancer has spread or reduced in size. What I have is a lot of anxiety when I find out that my kidney tumor has say shrunk 1cm but my lung nodules have grown larger in size. Then in another scan, it shows that the lung tumors has shrunk a bit but my kidney tumor has grown back the 1cm. What does all these developments tells you? Am I getter better or worst? How does it helps me? It has caused me more heartache than anything else. Then I decided to abandoned this "fight" and stopped the CT scan. Instead I will just listen to my body.

Have you every tried to put on a smile everyday? I am sure that is a lot of work. The same goes for staying positive. However you look at it, the cancer is a part of me. So when you curse the cancer, I think you are also cursing a part of yourself. What I am doing now is to process and interpret the events differently. Instead of cursing and fighting, I would be more kinder and more compassionate to myself. To love myself more and to feel the love that is flowing inside of me. In this way, heart and mind will be peaceful and staying positive become so natural.

When the mind is happy, it secrets a chemical know as endorphins. Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. Endorphins can be found in the pituitary gland, in other parts of the brain, or distributed throughout the nervous system. In addition to decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress.

I have been a bit busy the last two days. I just got myself engaged in a little part time work and I got some catch-up work to do. I am getting a lot pain from abdominal area. My appetite is a challenge. Otherwise, I am feeling good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Look Within For Solutions

I just realised after today's post, I have posted a total of 1,000 posts in my blog. When I first started this blog, never thought that I would reach this milestone. It's not that I am keeping records or there are any goals that I set, because I was just blogging my last few months on earth. Six months to live for a cancer patient is actually a very short time. There are so many things to do. The therapies to take, the taming of the monkey mind who refuses to be at peace and also the unfinished personal business. I have taken courses like Steven Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  The third habit is Put First Thing First. I found out then when I had cancer, my mind just could not think straight, at least in the beginning. The priority was the therapy, to get well. But in my case, there were no therapies available, I have to find my own therapy. Obsessed with finding a "right" therapy. Meanwhile, the mind just keeps on expanding with negative thoughts, trying to come to terms with cancer and of dying.  There are also unfinished personal business like forging closer relationship with family, the bucket lists, etc. All these happening at the same time and time flies. Most of the time I was in a daze, walking round and round in a maze. I can say six months is not enough to settle all my business.

Six months came and gone just like that. Now I am in my 32nd month. No, I am not counting anymore. I just take a day at a time and do what I can for the day. I am not even going to do my best because that would put a lot of stress on me. Some days, I will be at my best and other days, I am less than best. And it's OK. Since I have accepted myself for what I am, I can accept for some days, I will be very positive and for other days, I am less than positive. There are no expectations. This way, I feel I can live my life freely and not be a burden to anyone.

As for therapies, I do spent sometime looking for them but not at the pace I did before. I have accepted that they may not be any therapy that maybe suitable for me. I can accept that. When that happens, I am prepared to live out my remaining life without any therapy. I have accepted my life for whatever it brings, I will savor every moment that I have. And that in everything I do daily, no matter how insignificant it is, there are moments of happiness.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Enjoying Myself

I have been taking pain killers every 8 hours but I noticed that when I take it at every 6 hours, I have better results. It's less painful and don't feel feverish. Currently, the pain mainly comes from my abdominal area. I also noticed that my pain get worst when I am in an air-conditioned area. Last Saturday, I attended the Indian classical dance performance at the Temple of Fine Arts. The auditorium was cold and during the intermission, I felt some pain on the thighs on both my legs, the sciatica nerves. I have to self massage to ease the pain. I also observed that I have similar pain during the nights.

I had a good time watching the Indian classical dance performance last Saturday. Khadijah (back row, 4th from left) arranged tickets for about 15 of us.  Although the dancers are not professionals (but students), their performance was really good with their head, hands, body and legs synchronizing with the music. The program booklet just provided a one line synopsis for each of the 6 dances.  They organisers could have done better job by providing more information on each dance to allow non Indians to have a better appreciation of the dances.

Steep in Indian mythology, I did not quite understand what was going on. This production took one year in preparation and this was their first performance. Their next performance is scheduled for 2014. Only 5 performances between the years 2012 and 2020.

My friend managed to steal a few shorts during the performance. The musicians are also part timers and hails from Malaysia, Singapore and India.

One of the dances.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Inspirational Story of Kaye and Edwarda O'Bara

Happy Mother's Day!

Since today is Mother's Day, I thought I share with you a very touching story of Kaye and Edwarda O'bara. Imagine yourself never being able to sleep in your bed for 39 years, never going to a mall or a movie, have dinner with friends, no career because you can't work, no money because the medical bills exceeds your income by US$2K every month. Further imagine yourself having to feed your daughter every two hours, twenty four hours a day, every four hours taking the blood sugar levels and then administering insulin depending on the readings.  Imagine the husband having a conversation with you said, I can no longer standing by watching, while our finance are drained, not able to do anything. I am going to heaven to work from there and the next day dying of a massive heart attack. When that happened, Edwarda's other sister become a crack cocaine addict and living on the streets and having her own little baby that is being raised by you.  Imagine all these things happening to you.

Edwarda O'Bara was a vivacious sixteen-year-old and a mild diabetic. During the early morning hours of January 3rd, 1970, Edwarda woke up shaking and in great pain because the oral form of insulin she had been taking wasn't reaching her blood stream. Edwarda was rushed to the hospital emergency room and as she lay in her hospital bed sliding in and out of consciousness she turned to her mother Kaye and said, "Promise you won't leave me, will you, Mommy?" Kaye looked at her frightened daughter and said, "Of course not, I would never leave you, darling, I promise. And a promise is a promise!" Those were the last words that were exchanged before Edwarda quietly slipped into a diabetic coma.

For the past 39 years, Edwarda has lived her life in a coma, and Kaye has lived her promise of never leaving her daughter's side. Kaye has kept a vigil at Edwarda's bedside, caring for her every two hours, twenty-four hours a day, for the past 38 years! She has maintained this grueling pace and during these 38 years has not slept for more than 90 minutes at a time. As a devoted mother, Kaye chose not to institutionalize Edwarda, but rather to care for her at home and assume the tremendous financial burden that accompanies personally caring for a comatose child.

Unfortunately, Kaye passed away March 7th 2008 and now her younger daughter Colleen cares for her sister Edwarda till she wakes up. HOPE NEVER DIES.

This is truly one of the greatest story of unconditional love of a mother have for a child.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Feel Good!

I am into my 32nd month of therapy. I am just happy to be able to continue my healing journey. So today, I am going to treat myself to an Indian classical musical dance performance at the Temple of Fine Arts in Brickfields in support of the Handicapped and Disabled Children's Association of Klang, Selangor. I would like to thank Khadijah to inviting me and also arranging the tickets (price by donation) and of course, not forgetting Yeong. To Poh Yee who has been so nice and kind to provide transport not just for this evening but most of my TCM classes as well for the past year. I just feel blessed to have such wonderful friends around me.

I have been feeling great though I have some problems with my stomach. My appetite has been affected and I lost quite some weight. I have embarked on another weight gaining program. I am taking some steamed fish in my diet and hope to gain back about 4-5kgs. The abdominal pain is disturbing but after taking the pain killer, I feel so much better. I have been sleeping well.

I have started taking the drug cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) in low dose daily for the past 12 days days. I think the drug is helping because I can feel it. Not measurable but I did notice the pain on my pelvic bone area has subsided a bit. I am walking better with less pain. I will have to do blood test in two weeks time to check on my blood count. So far, the only side effects I noticed are slight fever and feeling a little warm all over my body, particularly on my legs. I have also been sweating a lot on the left side of my body.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Inspiring or What?

One of the area of my interest is life after death which also includes near death experiences (NDE). I was researching the net for something on NDE specifically on cancer patients. I read a number cases but none were as astounding as that of Anita Moorjani. Her NDE is completely different to anything I have read because there was no light, tunnel, no religious figure, and she did not see my whole life flash before her eyes.  She said while she was experiencing it, she had no idea that she was experiencing an NDE or an out of body experience.  It felt very normal at the time.  It was only after that she realized she had slipped to another dimension. Anita had cancer (Hodgkin's Lymphoma), and she was rushed to the hospital by her husband, after doing the scans, she was diagnosed with grade 4B lymphoma (the highest grade). The senior oncologist reported that it was too late, that her organs were now shutting down and only had 36 hours to live. She was in a coma the whole time and “crossed over” to another dimension, where she was engulfed in a total feeling of love. She had the choice of whether to come back into life, or go towards death. She chose to come back to life and her cancer disappeared within days and she recovered fully. Her doctors were baffled and could not explained what happened. She is now sharing with everyone that miracles are possible in life every day.  She realize that absolutely anything is possible, and that we did not come here to suffer.  Life is supposed to be great, and we are very, very loved. In her own words, from her book Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing

As I experienced my biggest revelation, it felt like a bolt of lightening. I understood that merely by being the love I truly am, I would heal both myself and others. I’d never understood this before, yet it seemed so obvious. If we’re all One, all facets of the same Whole, which is unconditional love, then of course who we are is love! I knew that was really the only purpose of life: to be our self, live our truth, and be the love that we are. [pg. 63]

While I was in that state of clarity in the other realm, I instinctively understood that I was dying because of all my fears. I wasn’t expressing my true self because my worries were preventing me from doing so. I understood that the cancer wasn’t a punishment or anything like that. It was just my own energy, manifesting as cancer because my fears weren’t allowing me to express myself as the magnificent force I was meant to be. [pg. 76]

This is a very interesting and inspirational account of one person's NDE. There are still many unanswered questions for me though. I have been thinking some of the things she said, especially on why she had cancer. It offers another view of healing this disease. This bring back to the question of negative thoughts and emotions. It's no joke having to constantly maintain positive thoughts. Day in and day out, I am faced with my own condition. I think the key out of this situation is my own attitude towards my own condition. It's how I perceive and interpret my own struggles. If I process my thoughts differently, then I can shift my life to something for rather than against me. I accept myself without complain. I also accept life without complain. That's free flow of positive energy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

You Know When It Comes

Yesterday, I wrote about things don't happen in random and when there is a lesson to be learned, the teacher will appear. I had just finished and published the post, just then (Wed, May 9, 2012 at 4:15 PM), I received an email from a reader from Singapore. She wrote:

I have been reading your blog which I came across when looking up for kidney cancer materials as one of my brothers  (a Malaysian) was unfortunately diagnosed with the disease early this year. It was stage 4 and already spread to both lungs and the right 7th rib. He has the diseased kidney removed. His urologist in a Malaysian hospital advised SUTENT treatment. Like you, he was not keen on this because of the possible severe side effects. 

He did not have any treatment for 2 months after the operation and a CT scan showed progression of the disease. I brought him to Singapore to see an Oncologist who administered a combination of interferon, chemo and a hormone drug. After 9 weeks, the CT scan shows that there are areas of dead tumor cells and no further progression. I thought I just share this with you.

There you have it. There is a lesson for me to learn and the teacher showed up, just like that. And look at the timing! This is definitely not a coincidence. I could have written a different subject matter and she could have sent the email at anytime of the day but it just happened just after I finished and updated my post! Whether I learned the lesson or not, that's another story.

I have to thank my cancer. Cancer has taught me so much for the last 32 months than my last 32 years of working life. Cancer is really show stopper, a life changer. For example money, I gave up my 5 figure salary job just like that. It no longer seem important though I still need it to fund my therapy. All these years, I was thinking about building the future. First setting lower goals and then over a period of time, exchanging smaller goals with larger ones. So I was always chasing after goals, never arriving. Buy a car by installments over 5 years and before I could finished paying off fully the car, it's time to change to another car and the process starts again. I was living in the future, always thinking and planning what to do. Even where I want to retire I would buy a property at the place so that I can retire when the time comes. My cancer has made me planless. Life changing habits. Not easy, still work in progress. Humility, coming to terms with my mortality and discovering myself. All my years of training could not prepare me for this landing. Openness, acceptance and total surrender and more receptive to spiritual instructions provides a possibility of healing.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lessons In The Making

Last night, I woke up a few times throughout the night. I was not sure of the abdominal pain or the night urine that woke me up. Each time I woke up, I could not remember whether I took the pain killer or not. After I woke up the third time, I thought I will just take a tablet because I was still feeling painful. I reason that had I taken the pain killer earlier, I should not have feel so painful but I just can't remember. I am not remembering well even for a short while. My mind is not clear and I can tell. It's dull, not sure from the effects of the medications.

While resting in bed, I have been listening to some hypnosis, affirmation and meditation tapes. Hypnosis and mediation uses similar entry techniques, to relax and calm the mind and become concentrated and peaceful. They are both very powerful self development tools, but that is where the similarity ends. Hypnosis the focus is on the subconscious, and in understanding and reprogramming past negative learned behaviours. Hypnosis as I learned is a tool for dealing with the past, and by dealing positively with the past it can help create very positive futures. Affirmations is a form of self-hypnosis where a word or a phrase is repeated over and over as a means of reprogramming our subconscious. In meditation the focus is on the consciousness and the present moment. They are only thoughts and they do not control me unless I allow it to be. I do get disappointed or when I feel depressed over some past events, I will try to help myself through listening of such recordings. I find it very useful as it can help and guide me.

In the past, I used to think that it's my bad fortune when something or a bad event (actually any event, even good) happened to me. I now believe that things don't happen in random and the event happens for a reason. When there is a lesson to be learned, the teacher will appear and the event is the lesson. I reflect on what happened and each lesson no matter how painful it is, like my cancer, teaches me something. Ever since, I took a different view of how to interpret such events, I am beginning to untie many of the knots in my life. I can feel the transformation and also live more peacefully.

I have a follow-up post tomorrow, a surprise even for myself. Please be sure to come back and read.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Taking It Easy

I have been resting for the last two days, mainly sleeping. I think it must have been the medication that I have been taking. Not only I feel sleepy, I have this feverish feeling that makes me feel very uncomfortable. I have been taking 3 pain killers a day, every 8 hours and it helps to keep the pain and fever down. Some readers have written to me wondering what happened to me. Other that the above, I am feeling very good. I have not let all these keep my spirits down.

I will make a short post today and would like to share the following with you.

Modern industrial society is a fanatical religion. We are demolishing, poisoning, destroying all life-systems on the planet. We are signing lOUs our children will not be able to pay... We are acting as if we were the last generation on the planet. Without a radical change in heart, in mind, in vision, the earth will end up like Venus, charred and dead.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Journey of Pain

I spent most of Wesak day sleeping. I think I have now moved into another phase of my journey which is rather challenging. I noticed that I have been experiencing more pain in my body as compared to previously. I give it a pain score of 5 (out of 10). When I start to walk, it increases to 6 but as soon as I take in a pain killer, it comes down to about 2. I decided to learn more about pain and I observed my pain come from four sources. The first is the nerve pain. This mainly affect my legs and occurs when I walk. The second pain is due to my bone tumors which affect my left knee joint and the right pelvic bone. This pain comes and goes as it likes but can be prominent at night. The third is from my abdomen due to the kidney tumor ablation. This is by far the most painful of the pain I am experiencing all day long. I don't know why? It should not be so painful by now but I guess the fourth source of pain comes from the cancer itself as the cancer also secretes chemicals that causes pain.

So besides using pain killer medication, I have to learn other methods of controlling pain. One way is to resume my coffee enema at least once a day. It's not easy for me to do coffee enema these days due to pain on right abdomen and my legs. I have also started to take CA herbs for my bone tumors and pain control. One thing I have learned is not to waste my energy to control pain but rather to use it for healing.

I find my stomach is bloated a little bit. My appetite at the moment is not good.

What You Should Know About Treating Cancer Pain

You don't have to accept pain.

People who have cancer don't always have pain. Everyone is different. But if you do have cancer pain, you should know that you don't have to accept it. Cancer pain can almost always be relieved.
  • Your pain can be managed.
  • Controlling pain is part of your cancer treatment.
  • Talking openly with your doctor and health care team will help them manage your pain.
  • The best way to control pain is to stop it from starting or keep it from getting worse.
  • There are many different medicines to control pain. Everyone's pain control plan is different.
  • Keeping a record of your pain will help create the best pain control plan for you.
  • People who take cancer pain medicines as prescribed rarely become addicted to them.
  • Your body does not become immune to pain medicine. Stronger medicines should not be saved for "later."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy Wesak Day

I would like to wish all followers of Buddha, Happy Wesak Day!

Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth, a trusted friend is the best relative, Enlightenment is the greatest bliss.
Dhammapada 204

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dances With Death

The time now is 11.30pm, 3 May. A good friend called me up earlier at about 10pm and talk to me about his enlarged prostrate. He is almost 60 years old and his PSA reading was 5. He said about 3 years ago, it went up to 7 and then has come down and been quite stable. His doctor wanted to do a biopsy and he called me to asked me about the impact of the biopsy. I gave him my opinion. He was not too keen on the procedure. If I were him, I would also feel the same. I suggested that he get another opinion before making the biopsy procedure decision. I thought it was nothing and told him not to worry so much. After he put down the phone, a sense of uneasiness hangs over me. I then spent the rest of the night looking up more on enlarged prostrate and the relationship between the PSA results and prostrate cancer. That news has affected me. I am really worried that any of my friends or for that matter anybody who gets cancer. I know I will take it badly should any one of them gets cancer. I could not sleep and I need to find some comfort.

The night was warm and my mother has just powered on the air-conditioner in the hall and also having the fan at full blast. The air-conditioner is just behind me and I could feel the cold air eating into my bones as I was writing this post. I was also having a backache after sitting for too long. I popped in a pain killer, my good friend whom I can trust in the hour of need. What would I do without you? Somehow, I think my mother must have sense something was wrong with me after I was seen wearing another long sleeve shirt over my tee. She turned off the air-conditioner and went to sleep. But that did not give me comfort. Just then, I was also listening to some music on my headphone and the Song from a Secret Garden by Secret Garden was also playing. This song can make me cry, yes for even a used to be Rambo like me. Somehow the timing was right and maybe I needed a cry badly. That's why the phone call from my friend and also the timing of the song. I was looking for comfort and now I have it.

I found myself turning into someone I don't quite know. I have been listening to some very inspirational lectures by Drs Wayne Dyer and Ron Scolastico. I think when you have cancer, you tend to have more time to think about life and death. As Buddhist, we contemplate about death and I have also read many articles and books about death including The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and Osho's views on Death. Death does not seems scary anymore and I seems to be welcoming or looking forward to death. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for each new day it brings but at the same time, I tell myself even today is my last day on earth, I would embrace death. I no longer want to die in my sleep. I want to be awake and experience death.

There are many things people do to escape. They retreat to the mountains, the monasteries and even commit suicide. Some would called them cowards but are they? Physically, their bodies may be at the mountains and monasteries, can they escape their consciousness (or some would call soul)? If you love life then you must also celebrate death. This physical body is nothing but a temporary warehouse to store the consciousness or soul. Behind all the physical bodies which are being held by certain frequencies that vibrate to form the body that you can see, the most basic structure are nothing but energy. You can't destroy energy but can only change the type of energy. Yet there is no physical memory like the RAM you find in computers. Yet a person can recall past events like when he was a child or things that happen sometime ago. Where are all these memories stored? The brain? The memories becomes part of the energy, so called storage energy for a lack of a better word. So when a person dies, it is the physical body that dies, where did the energy go?

So you see why I have a paradigm shift about dying? Now, everyday I live even better, not having to worry about being alive or dead. I am not treating death lightly. On the contrary, I believe one can greet death with respect, dignity and grace. When one dies, the body starts to disintegrates no matter how beautiful it was. All materials belongings are left behind and it is such attachments that the consciousness or soul fear on the verge of becoming nothingness.  Even with one thousand years more to live, it wants more. Like me, I have live for an extended 31 months. I will not ask for more but just live my life to the fullest for every day it brings. The clinging to possessions and wanting to live longer creates misery. Yes, the consciousness or soul will bear witness to the physical death of the body. Death will come whether you are ready or not. Rather than fighting death which is a certainty, why not threat him like a friend who is now knocking at your door and your are happy to see him. Welcome him as a friend you have not seen for a long time. Death is the meeting of life.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Body Puzzle

For over the past two weeks, I have had something strange happening to me. I am sweating only on the left side of my body. The head, the left back, left hand and all the way down to the left leg. These parts would sweat profusely, especially after I wake up in the morning. I always wonder why. So I look up in the Net for some answers and this is one of the probable cause, anhidrosis. This condition is marked by an inability to sweat, causing the body to overheat and difficulty cooling down. In mild cases it may only affect one part of the body or small patches. In severe forms, the entire body may be affected. It may be the result of nerve damage, certain medications, skin damage, dehydration, genetic factors and more. Anhidrosis can also cause hyperhidrosis of the areas of the body that are able to sweat. This is characterized by profuse sweating. It can affect patches of the body, half or the entire body depending on the severity. While the exact cause of hyperhidrosis remains unknown, hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system due to a variety of triggers has been found in these patients.

Then on 1st May, I started taking the cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) drug, I noticed my left side sweating has stopped. Instead, I find my right leg getting warmer. This drug is giving me some hot and cold sensations, much like fever, very uncomfortable. At the same time, my right abdominal area is still giving me some pain. After I take the pain killer, Ultracet, the fever and the pain seems to be under control.

I have also been sleeping rather well, not just at night but even in the afternoon. I like to take a nap just after lunch and sometimes, I only wake up at 5pm thought most of the time, I will try to get up by 3.30pm. I don't know what's happening but I am not complaining. But my appetite has not been good. I find most days, I seems to have trouble eating but I will still try eat as much as I can.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Going To The Unknown

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear or embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the fate of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Steve Jobs

Many people are tempted to so do self medication for a number of reasons. These people may be the cancer patient themselves or loved ones to the cancer patient. Is the distinction important? I believe it is important. For example, recently I am in correspondence with a reader who is caring for her mother who has cancer. She said her doctors has run out of options for treatment and she has been looking into alternatives. And yet when she has found an option, the question still remains is whether it is all right to let her mother take that treatment. No matter how hard she tries, she will not be able to step into the shoes of her mother to make the big decision of her life.

For me, it becomes so much easier, not just because this is my own life but I have a strong courage to explore the unknown. Whatever treatment that I take, I follow my heart. As you know, I am no doctor and yet when I read about the treatments, I can sense which are suitable or appropriate for me for example, my oncologist recommended interferon therapy and I 'just know' this is not right for me. Another doctor recommended IL-2 (Interleukin-2) and I 'just know' this is preferable.

I think people with cancer are one of the few groups of people who knows that they are going to die in the near term. This presents an advantage in the sense that the person can start preparing for death. It may be unfinished business, travel, relationships or whatever. One of the thing I do when preparing for death is to visualise my own death. It's not easy in the beginning but as I do it more often, it becomes very calming. Why would I want to visualise my own death? This is so that when I am actually on death bed, I have no problem welcoming death. I am no longer attached to this body and worldly life. I know it's time to move on.

One thing about being a Buddhist is that we believe in rebirth. Another thing I do when preparing my death is to make a wish to be reborn in the human realm. Although I have not achieved any spiritual attainment, it is my intent to be reborn in the human realm as a male. After completion of my university education, I will go forth and enter life as a monk and continue my Buddhist practice. So I visualise it with intent and wish for this to happen in my next rebirth. I have achieved some calmness and peacefulness in my life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Guinea Pig Patient

I would like to wish all my working friends and readers, Happy Labor Day!

I am on my second month of my ibandronate (Boniva) drug therapy. I take this therapy once a month, the first day of every month. This time, I made sure I took the drug correctly, ie. early in the morning with plain water on an empty stomach. No eating or sleeping within the hour after taking the tablet. I also started the cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) drug today as part of my metronomic chemotherapy. I take this drug after meals and drink lots of water. I have to go for a blood test every 2-3 weeks since the white blood cells and platelets may be affected by cyclophosphamide. This is very important, as there may not get symptoms of these problems. As well as monitoring for side effects, blood tests help to monitor my condition to determine if the treatment is effective. I will need to have full blood tests every 2 to 4 weeks for the first few months of treatment and then every 1 to 3 months after that. Cyclophosphamide rarely causes a drop in the number of white blood cells, which are needed to fight infection. It can also cause a drop in the number of platelets, which help stop bleeding. Regular blood tests aim to pick these problems up early when they occur. However, the side effects includes a sore mouth, mouth ulcers, easy bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, breathlessness, infection or fever.

After some thinking and discussion with my family and friends about my hyperthermia treatment in Germany, I have decided to defer this treatment. The are a number of reasons. My current doctor in New York and my oncologist has recommended that I take immunetherapy as it gives me the best chance. The clinic in Germany has recommended that I use Sutent, a drug which my urologist says would not be of much help to me. Also this drug is very expensive, costing 8K thereby making my overall cost of treatment in Germany much higher than I anticipated. Furthermore, I need to do at least two hyperthermia treatments in Germany before I can see some results. So now, I have to choose between doing hyperthermia threatment or immunetherapy (ie. IL-2) in China because of limited funding. So meanwhile, I will start with the metronomic chemotherapy.