I used to be fond of a lot of not so healthy foods before I was diagnosed with cancer. I was a "coffee addict". Drinking a cup of coffee just after I woke was a must, or I felt like a zombie walking around half asleep. It was a daily habit for me to have a slice of bread or a piece of biscuit with my coffee to break my fast.
Then only at about 11a.m. I would have a light lunch or perhaps you could call it brunch. Now, since I was hospitalised on 14th December, I took a dislike to coffee!
I had a sweet tooth, and chocolates were my favourite. I remember it was not a problem for me to finish off a tin of hazel nuts or almond chocolates by Van Houten or Cadbury within two hours.! Now, I no longer fancy chocolates, and had not touched any since my hospitalisation.
It is so ironical that when I was healthier, I would go for long walks, did aerobics, etc. but found it difficult to shed even 3 kgs. Now, since my illness, I had lost 15 kgs without much effort.! Eldest sister cooks healthy and nutritional food and prepares healthy drinks for me everyday......I eat and drink them without much relish, and even the sight of sumptuous food does not stir my appetite like it used to!
My best friend, Geok Sim, and I would go for our usual once a month visit of our favourite "Don Cafe" at China Square, where we would order our favourite crab beehoon. Now I no longer miss the dish or any seafood. Funny how one's tastebud
seems to change when one is ill.
My beloved sister tries to vary her cooking style so that I will not get tired of my food. I appreciate her love and effort. I know when God heals me, I will no longer revert to the old "greedy Choo" who just eats everything, but I will be someone who is more fastidious with healthy eating.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
I used to be fond of a lot of not so healthy foods before I was diagnosed with cancer. I was a "coffee addict". Drinking a cup of coffee just after I woke was a must, or I felt like a zombie walking around half asleep. It was a daily habit for me to have a slice of bread or a piece of biscuit with my coffee to break my fast.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 12:15 am
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Today is 28th of January 2011. In just five more days I will be seeing my beloved brother Kee Seng and his wife as they are flying to Singapore to spend Chinese New Year with me. The following day, my beloved niece will come to Singapore with her older daughter, Zen. Wow! I am so excited. Simply because this is the first time,
that my relatives will be spending reunion dinner at my small but cosy flat.
On New Year's eve, my beloved nephew Samuel will come with his wife and four lovely daughters, and his brother Daniel and wife, will also have reunion day with us. They will drive down from Johore. My two sisters Lee Lee and Ean Ean will still be in Singapore with their spouses, and my niece, Christmin who lives in Singapore will
also join us for dinner with her family. Eldest brother is happy about the Chinese New Year Eve arrangement, although he would not be able to join us as Canada is too far away.
All these years, I hardly spend my Christmas or New Year celebrations in Singapore.
It would be spent in either Malaysia, Canada or Australia. There was once when I spent Christmas in Taiwan.
Now for the first time, I have most of my relatives to spend Chinese New Year with me. I never realise that when a person has stage four cancer, she becomes like a
little "queen". :-)
Today's visit to Dr. Karmen Wong confirmed that my liver has improved tremendously,
and Dr. Wong was able to give me my third chemotherapy, much to her delight and joy. She confided in eldest sister that when she first saw my medical report, she
was extremely worried and dared not give me any chemotherapy until three weeks later, when thank God, my organs have improved to some extent. I told sister that I already knew the gravity of my condition, but I just wanted to be thankful and grateful to God that I have lived this far at 57 years and 12 days! I definitely wanted to be cheerful and postive with the remaining days with my relatives and friends.!
With God's blessings, I hope I can spend many more Christmases and New Year celebrations with my loved ones. For now, I only pray that I will be strong enough to take my two sisters to see the Sakura in Japan this coming April.
For now, I am looking forward to five more days.....
Posted by The Oriental Express at 4:00 am
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
A friend from the toastmasters' club, Michael Rodrigues sent me the email below. I always enjoy stories about little children. They are so pure, innocent and candid. If there were toastmasters' clubs for little children, this one would have won first prize in story telling!
The 'Middle Wife' by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher
I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself,but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.
When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.
Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.
She holds up a snapshot of an infant. 'This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday.'
'First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.'
She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.
'Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. 'She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!' (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)
'My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.' (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)
'And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!' (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands mimicking water flowing away. It was too much!)
'Then the middle wife starts saying 'push, push,' and 'breathe, breathe.
They started counting, but never even got past ten Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom's play-center, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there.'
Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat.
I'm sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it's show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another ' Middle Wife' comes along.
Now you have two choices....laugh and close this page or pass this along to someone else to spread the laughs. I know what I did!!!
Live every day as if it is your LAST chance to make someone happy!!!
Posted by The Oriental Express at 7:34 am
When I was first diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer, my family members were stunned and reeling with shock. Our family members never had any history of cancer. Morever, I never smoke and am a social drinker. Maybe the cancer was benign judging by my liveliness. A person with Stage Four Malignant cancer might be groaning and moaning and probably lying on the bed. Nevertheless the ferocious cells are indeed malignant, and I am determined to go for a battle with them! Faith is my shield; and the Lord's strength is my amour!
My sister-in-law from Penang was the first to arrive. She helped to cook for me. A few days later, eldest sister arrived. Poor sister. She had just recovered from flu, and I noticed she had lost some weight. She brought with her some sour sop and sour sop tea leaves. A few days later, my niece from Kuala Lumpur visited me, and brought me quite a number of organic stuff. She seems to be knowledgeable about organic food. When she returned to Kuala Lumpur, she couriered the methods of cooking various organic food to my eldest sister.
After my sister-in-law and niece went back to Malaysia, my second sister arrived from
Melbourne. Sister had just gone back to Melbourne for a couple of weeks, and now she
had to make this trip back to Singapore again, so as to help ease eldest sister's
workload in looking after me. In my present condition, both sisters do not trust to leave me on my own, not even for a few hours. Either sister and sometimes both
would accompany me to see Dr. Karmen Wong or when I had to go for blood tests.
My cousin, Phaik Suan from Sabah and a relative, Janice, from Kuala Lumpur also visited me. My nephews and grandnieces from Johore also hopped over for a visit, and my niece who is teaching in Singapore also visited me with her husband.
Falling ill for such a long time, and battling the cancerous tumours is not a pleasant task. How I longed to be independent again, going where I wanted to without having to be accompanied by anyone. I am blessed that despite being single,
I have so many siblings and relatives who all care for me. Compared to some parents who do not have their children with them, as most work overseas, I am indeed very very blessed to have my relatives rallying around me at a time when I need them most.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 5:02 am
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
My brother-in-law, Rev. Joseph Teoh is a pastor. Hence, when he emailed me some
jokes, definitely they pertain to some holy humour! Enjoy!
There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family Bible to her brother in another part of the country.
"Is there anything breakable in here?" asked the postal clerk.
"Only the Ten Commandments. " answered the lady.
"Somebody has said there are only two kinds of people in the world.
There are those who wake up in the morning and say, "Good morning, Lord ,"
And there are those who wake up in the morning and say,
"Good Lord, it' s morning."
A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn't find a space with a meter.
Then he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: "I have circled the block 10 times. If I don't park here, I'll miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses."
When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note "I've circled this block for 10 years. If I don't give you a ticket I'll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation."
There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: "I have good news and bad news.
The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program. The bad news is, it's still out there in your pockets."
While driving in Pennsylvania , a family caught up to an Amish carriage. The owner of the carriage obviously had a sense of humor, because attached to the back of the carriage was a hand printed sign.. "Energy efficient vehicle: Runs on oats and grass. Caution: Do not step in exhaust!"
School teacher began her lesson with a question,
"Boys and girls, what do we know about God?"
A hand shot up in the air. "He is an artist!" said the kindergarten boy.
"Really? How do you know?" the teacher asked.
"You know - Our Father, who does art in Heaven... "
A minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend.
The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.
"Reverend," said the young man, "I'm so sorry about the delay.
It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip."
The minister chuckled, "I know what you mean. It's the same in my business"
People want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the centre of attention.
Sunday after church, a Mom asked her very young daughter what the lesson was about.
The daughter answered, "Don't be scared, you'll get your quilt."
Needless to say, the Mom was perplexed.
Later in the day, the pastor stopped by for tea and the Mom asked him what that morning's Sunday school lesson was about.
He said "Be not afraid, thy comforter is coming."
The minister was preoccupied with thoughts of how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building.
Therefore, he was annoyed to find that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute. The substitute wanted to know what to play.
"Here's a copy of the service," he said impatiently. "But, you'll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances.
"During the service, the minister paused and said, "Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up"
At that moment, the substitute organist played "The Star Spangled Banner."
And that is how the substitute became the regular organist!
A father was approached by his small son who told him proudly,
"I know what the Bible means!"
His father smiled and replied, "What do you mean, you 'know' what the Bible means?
The son replied, "I do know!"
"Okay," said his father. "What does the Bible mean?
"That's easy, Daddy..." the young boy replied excitedly,
"It stands for 'Basic Information Before Leaving Earth.'
(This one is my favorite.)
Give me a sense of humor, Lord,
Give me the grace to see a joke,
To get some humor out of life,
And pass it on to other folks!
Posted by The Oriental Express at 8:08 am
Friday, January 21, 2011
This afternoon, our Executive Director, Michael Tan and Division Director, Anthony Goh and my colleagues, Dickson Wong, Maya Gabriel and Jack Sheo visited me at my home around noon. We had a good time of sharing, and they enjoyed looking at my
brother's lovely paintings on the wall and to listen to Ning's performance on the
violin with her brother, Francis, on the video.
After that, Jack dropped my eldest sister and I at the Immigration Office to apply for a six month's visa. My eldest sister who is a retired school teacher, is able to
look after me, and it would be more convenient if she could have a longer visa to stay in Singapore.
The ICA Building at Lavender was thronged with a huge crowd of people. We waited for more than an hour, and my queue number was still a long way off - another 100
more numbers. I was getting quite exhausted, and my eldest sister decided to go
to to the counter to ask the officer, if she could have her application processed
earlier, as I was getting weak and exhausted. My sister showed the officer her
application forms and immediately the officer obliged. She could emphatise with my illness.
The officer asked my sister if we both had our birth certificates. Sister explained that she had left her birth certificate in her home in Kuching, and as for me, I would have to search for mine. I told the officer, that our surname, "Kam" is very rare, and to have two sisters with names that are repetitive is also very rare.
The officer smiled and understood my logical reasoning.
Sister's application was approved, and we were asked the collect her passport and green card the following day.
I am so proud of our government officers, and sister, who has always been impressed with the efficiency of our government was even more pleased and affirmed her special liking and admiration for Singapore.
In the evening, my good friend from the Vietnam Toastmasters' Club, Geok Cheng,
came to visit me and we had a simple, but healthy meal together.
What a wonderful ending to a great day!
Posted by The Oriental Express at 10:34 pm
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
My dear readers,
For today, let's take a break, and not talk about the organs. Let me share with you a joke sent by my friend, Fernando Young, an active toastmaster.
Hope the Pastor's Cat will tickle your funny bones. Am sure you might have experienced something like that before ....how God can turn an unexpected situation into a blessing for someone else.
Have a good day!
THE PASTOR'S CAT
This particular story just made me laugh. Every time I think about it, the vision of that poor cat just amuses me to no end. Hope the story leaves a bright spot in your day. Whoever said the Creator doesn't have a sense of humor?
Dwight Nelson recently told a true story about the pastor of his church. He had a kitten that climbed up a tree in his backyard and then was afraid to come down. The pastor coaxed, offered warm milk, etc.
The kitty would not come down. The tree was not sturdy enough to climb, so the pastor decided that if he tied a rope to his car and pulled it until the tree bent down, he could then reach up and get the kitten.
That's what he did, all the while checking his progress in the car. He then figured if he went just a little bit further, the tree would be bent sufficiently for him to reach the kitten. But as he moved the car a little further forward, the rope broke.
The tree went 'boing!' and the kitten instantly sailed through the air - out of sight.
The pastor felt terrible. He walked all over the neighborhood asking people if they'd seen a little kitten. No. Nobody had seen a stray kitten. So he prayed, 'Lord, I just commit this kitten to your keeping,' and went on about his business.
A few days later he was at the grocery store, and met one of his church members. He happened to look into her shopping cart and was amazed to see cat food. This woman was a cat hater and everyone knew it, so he asked her, 'Why are you buying cat food when you hate cats so much?'
She replied, 'You won't believe this,' and then told him how her little girl had been begging her for a cat, but she kept refusing. Then a few days before, the child had begged again, so the Mom finally told her little girl, 'Well, if God gives you a cat, I'll let you keep it.' She told the pastor, 'I watched my child go out in the yard, get on her knees, and ask God for a cat. And really, Pastor, you won't believe this, but I saw it with my own eyes. A kitten suddenly came flying out of the blue sky, with its paws outspread, and landed right in front of her.'
Never underestimate the Power of God and His unique sense of humor.
Anyone can count the seeds in an apple; but only God can count the apples in a seed.
GIVE ME A SENSE OF HUMOR, GOD
GIVE ME THE GRACE TO SEE A JOKE
TO GET SOME HUMOR OUT OF LIFE
AND PASS IT ON TO OTHER FOLKS
"Each Day is God's Gift to you, make it blossom and grow into a Day of Beauty"
Posted by The Oriental Express at 7:04 am
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Whenever I wake up in the morning, I thank God for another brand new day. This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.
It is unbelievable how we waste some of our time in the day by doing unnecessary
things and sometimes, allow ourselves be show unnecessary anger and shots of hot temper. When we lose our temper, we get all flustered and we become crippled with unforgiveness and thoughts of getting back at the person who has made us angry.
It is also sometimes quite annoying how some people can waste our time without realising it. For example, there was a client who asked me to deliver an option to purchase to her and to collect her cheque. She told me she would be with me in five minutes time, but the five minutes turned out to be forty minutes! Rubber time!
I have been so used to waiting for people that I always arm myself with a book - hence while waiting, I will read so as not to waste time. It was only hard on my legs, as I have a slipped bone in my left leg and a slipped bone in my lower spine.
After thirty minutes I sent her an sms and said I would wait for her at a cafeteria nearby, as my legs were giving way. She replied that she was coming down soon.
Everyday is a gift when we can breathe and enjoy the fresh air. We can make the most of every moment and revel in it. It is important that we organise our time well, so that we have enough time to rest, enough time to spend with our loved ones
and enough time just to be quiet and reflect on the day's activities, etc. Some people call it "meditation"; for Christians, we call it "Quiet time". We become more
rejuvenated and are in a better frame of mind to reflect and to become determined how
best we can improve ourselves and make the most of life.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 6:57 am
Sunday, January 16, 2011
As I was going with my sisters to Chinatown to have lunch at the Breakthrough Cafe and to do some shopping, I met my neighbour, Hari, a very short Malay man. In the past, whenever Hari met me, he would say with an air of seriousness, "Choo, the world is coming to an end." I would then encourage him and tell him that life is still beautiful. He could look at the bouganvilleas that were blooming and the pigeons that were flying freely in the air.
When Hari saw me with a walking stick, he was somewhat surprised and said, "Choo, what happened.? Did you have a fall? I'd not seen you for quite some time." I told Hari I had been ill as I have been diagnosed with final stage cancer.
Immediately Hari said, "Choo, life is a long journey and it is still beautiful. You
must continue to walk on this beautiful journey." I smiled and thanked him. What a great change in him.!
For some reasons, Hari seemed to be much taller that day, as he became more assertive with his desire to press on with life to get the most out of it.
A little later, I met Jack, an Indian odd job labourer who helps around the vicinity of Little India. Sometimes I would give Jack some food and drinks. When he saw me with a walking stick, he came towards me with concern. "Missy, did you have a bad fall? I told him of my illness and he immediately encouraged me to be strong as God would surely help me. I smiled and thanked him, assuring him that I too believe
in God's blessings.
Despite my walking stick, I continued my journey, with a spring in my steps and a new song in my heart.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 11:52 pm
Saturday, January 15, 2011
The kitchen tap needed fixing up since I was hospitalised. Second sister-in-law had such great strength, that she unconsciously pulled up the whole tap! Wow! Such
brute strength. Praise God that she is so strong despite being a senior citizen.
My two sisters had been nagging me to fix up the tap. One day, Mag (and old friend
who used to help me part time at my restuarnat, Rialto and her son, Eddie, together with another friend, Fong Wah visited me. Just then someone popped in his head and announced, "I am Rajan, the contractor." I showed him the tap and he told me that he must switch off the main. There was no main meter outside, so he went
down the block to see if there was any. He phoned me and I kept checking the water
which was still running. Rajan then went up to the 13th story and gradually checked on each floor. We finally had to phone to the PUB for help. How embarrassing when I
realised that the water meter is on the wall, just next to my refrigerator in the kitchen!!
I paid Rajan some money and blessed him in Tamil, Hindi and Nepali. He smiled, making him look even more handsome and charming. So I blessed him again in Mandarin and Hokkien....."5 blessings for you, Rajan".
Rajan smiled his widest and asked if we were having a tea party. I told him my friends are visiting me because I am suffering from final stage cancer, and he looked momentarily stunned. "But you look so good and healthy!" He continued to advise me to take things easier and God will also bless me with a speedy recovery.
Suddenly I realised that my friends all looked more radiant and beautiful, and the colours of the flowers which I received from toastmasters at Raffles Town Club seemed even more bright and gorgeous.!
Life is beautiful and everything in it. Thank you Lord for your great handwork's!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
During my last visit, Dr. Karman Wong was exremely happy to see that my liver had
improved. She was able to give me my second chemotherapy and this time, with a slightly higher dosage.
This time, I need not go to the bathroom every ten minutes, because the nurses need no longer measure the amount of urine that has been passed out. Hence I was able to
sleep most of the time.
Earlier I had asked Dr. Wong why I had not felt any pain despite there being so many lesions. "Dr. Wong smiled and said, "I rebuke in Jesus' name." When I see how my friends suffering from cancer are in such great agony and pain, I know PAPA had
indeed spared me the pain. PAPA knows that my threshold for physical pain is not very high.
I only felt extremely warm, and perspired while waiting by the taxi stand. I felt somewhat suffocated as the air conditioning was not cold enough. I asked the taxi driver for more air, but he said it was quite cold because it was raining whole day
long. I asked my sister for a vomit bag and the taxi-driver quickly turned on the airconditioner. He must have decided it was wiser to let me have more air, than have
me throw out in his taxi!
Thank you PAPA for your blessings and guiding me day by day.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 10:03 pm
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Dr. Karmen was concerned about the deteriorating state of my liver, and told me she
would send me for Ultra sound and some blood tests on Monday. I thought to myself that ultra sound tests are more meant for expecting mothers to check on how their babies are faring inside the womb.
My best friend, Geok Sim, had visited me on Saturday morning, so that she could show eldest sister some materials on the computer as well as to keep her company when I was with the nurses.
I noticed that many of the radiographers are young, pretty Filipino ladies with
excellent facial complexion. The one doing the ultra sound for me looked so serious that I thought perhaps I might play a joke on her, "Oh Nurse, where are my babies, my twins.?" I couldn't see them on the screen. Then I would point to the pair of lungs and say, "There they are, my twins". Instead, I just keep calm and asked her
serious, "Nurse, where's the scan of my baby - hasn't appeared on the screen yet? She
looked at me, and her eyes grew bigger with flabbergastion. "Dr. Wong never mentioned about any baby....just some tumours."
"Just pulling your leg lah".
Geok Sim came back with us, and continued to show us information in her i-pad. Wow!
She is such an excellent photographer. Her photographs taken all over the world looked so professional! I encouraged her to take up photography seriously. She indeed has the makings of a Russel Wong.
We decided to play a game of Scrabble and Sim showed me how to play on the computer.
I still preferred to play on the old fashioned manual board game of Scrabble. However, one can relax more with the computer, because it calculates the marks and will quickly signal if a word is wrongly used. Sim was the champion! Told my second sister Ean Ean and she would love to take Sim on for a game. Wow! Melbourne
Champion versus Bukit Panjang, Singapore Champion!
Sim did not want to stay for dinner as it is a family habit to dine together on weekends. Sis and I spent 3 hours watching our favourite Channel 8 serial, "Love".
We had tv dinner, and I took almost two hours to nibble at my food!
Thank you Lord for such a lovely and fun-filled day.!
Posted by The Oriental Express at 6:25 am
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Eldest brother called me and I thought I heard him cry. Remember great men do shed tears, and when they do, my heart is all melted, though I put on a stoical front.
Hence, I wrote brother an email which I do not mind to share with my readers, and will later explain why I am so contented with my 57 years on earth thus far.
I hope my letter will encourage readers who may be in the same plight as I am, but do not fear, because God is in charge.
I also wrote to my friends in various toastmasters' clubs so that they will not continue to send me invitations to their clubs to help in project or language
evaluation. I will volunteer my services again when I am much better.
"My dear friends in Toastmasters' Clubs,
I have received the results of my biopsy and MRI. Doctor David Tai said my tumours on my liver, pancreas, kidneys, lungs and gall bladder are malignant. I have
been referred to the best oncologist in Singapore, Dr. Karmen Wong, but we know Jesus is the greatest physician!
I don't wish anyone to be sad, but to know that everything is in God's hands,
and Choo is as cheerful, strong and peaceful as ever. Whenever I am not
tired, I still like to write, blog, play the violin and piano and help my team of
agents to deal with problems concerning work.
My letter to my koko Kee Yong will let you have a better understanding of my
feelings, philosophy and attitude towards life. It is my prayer that everyone of
my dear friends will also come to know Jesus in a very personal and meaningful
way for He is indeed the source of my strength all these umpteenth years.
It is my prayer too that you will be encouraged and always look at the positive
side of things, for beneath every cloud is a silver lining and remember, the darker the sky,
the brighter shine the stars!
Cheers and wishing everyone a great and blessed year ahead!"
Letter to my eldest brother Kee Yong
"My dear Koko,
Let's give thanks to God for everything, including my illness.
For years, I have always held open my palms, so that God
can give; He can also take away. I will never struggle to close my palms
even if I feel that He is taking away things that I would rather
He leaves behind ......riches, health, my beloved pets, etc. etc.
I have gone through so much in life, and nothing fazes me, serious!
When I wanted to buy my current HDB flat, all the banks would not
lend me $$$ because of my past financial tsunami; but I had faith,
and PAPA rained down the $$ for me from heaven. I ended up
paying full cash and some CPF for the flat.
Though I was momentarily stunned by the massive lesions on my
liver and lesser lesions on the other 4 organs, I have now accepted
my condition with thanks, knowing that God has a purpose for
everything that has taken place.
Except for looking somewhat yellow on my face the first few days, I
turned somewhat rosy, and with my smooth, shiny complexion,
I do not look sick. Since I am the youngest in the ward, I tried not
to trouble the nurses, so that they have more time to help the sickly
older ladies. Sometimes seeing that the nurses were busy, I tried to
help the older patients a little. I know you will say "don't do unnecessary
things," but it is such a joy to be able to do something for others. For
years, I have been influenced by this simple poem that I had read:
Life is but a long journey,
and we are all travellers on a long road.
Whatever I can do;
Whatever kindness I can show;
Let me do it there and then,
For I may not pass this way again.
I used to weep when any of my siblings left Penang;
I used to weep when my classes end at the end of the year.
But after the poem, I told myself I would give my best to people
while I could, so that I need not have to weep when the time comes to part.
Frankly I am very contented with my 57 years. Have travelled round
the world, skied on the Rockies, climbed the Great Wall of China and parts of Mt. Everest,
learnt to play the violin albeit at the age of 55 half and had the joy of
playing in the Ensemble, joined Toastmasters 3 years ago and had the joy
of gently breaking the rule of not sharing about God. I was a test speaker
in a contest and chose the topic, "With faith, nothing is impossible?", etc.
Am glad that while I could still walk, I had been on short missions trips to
Thailand, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and Nepal. Hence, it is important
for all of us to always make hay while the sun shines.
So koko, please do not be grieved. We are eternally grateful that we have
a great God who is still in control of this messy, turbulent and chaotic world.
I went through very tough times during my financial tsunami, but I have
forgiven the culprits who caused me much pain and distress. I felt like Job,
though unlike Job who was a holy and righteous man, I was stupid and naive;
yet God in His graciousness, poured His blessings on me and restored all that
which I had lost! I am not even worthy to pick up the crumbs from under His
table, but God is always so merciful and generous.
Though I live alone, I always feel the Lord's sweet presence as I never feel
lonely. In fact, joy is coming home after a hard days' work and enjoying the
quiet in the home. The Lord has blessed me with wonderful neighbours who
always look out for me, and relatives and good friends who care for me even though
we may be separated by the oceans, mountains and many mrt stations!
What more can I ask?
Am glad God has brought me to Singapore where I have thoroughly enjoyed living
all these 30 years and made many wonderful friends. If it is God's will, I will pull
though and write my book of testimony, "When organs fall apart......". The staff
at SGH are really wonderful, and I purposely chose a ward of 6 beds rather than 2
beds so that I could observe things around me.
Koko, I would like to hear you sound more cheerful when you speak on the phone and remember to be always positive, no matter how discouraging the situation, for God is always in charge.
All praises and glory to His name."
Kam Choo Choo @ Lynn,
Team Associate Director,
OrangeTee.Com Pte. Ltd.
Favourite quote: "Life is not about falling down; it is about getting up again".
Posted by The Oriental Express at 3:37 pm
Sunday, January 09, 2011
It helps that although I am not a vegetarian I have always preferred fruits, vegetables, tofu and eggs to meat. Hence, now with my illness, taking lots of organic vegetables and fruits is like second nature to me. Gosh! I feel like a new person, and it shows in my glowing and rosy complexion. Hence, when friends visited me, they were surprised I looked healthy. Now that we are on the subject of complexion, let me digress a little. Perhaps my siblings and I should thank our parents for the inheritance of trouble-free complexion. However, it was papa who somehow had shown me the importance of having good facial complexion. He had somehow compared a good complexion to a well-polished marble floor. When the marble floor is well-polished, it enhances the whole ambiance. Hence, when we have good, shining complexion, there is little if hardly any necessity for anyone to put on make up.
I still remembered how papa had once demonstrated gathering the early morning dews in his palms and using the cool dews to wash his face. He described the dews as "God's natural cosmetics!" Hence, whenever I accompanied papa on his early morning walks to our favourite haunt at Bukit Dumbar in Penang, we would gather the dews and apply them onto our face. Being frugal, I never spent money on branded cosmetics, but on simple stuffs like Hazeline Snow, bedak sejok (cold powder) and of course, the complimentary dews on the fields. Till now I use only the basics - cleanser and moisturiser. Gifts of lipsticks, eye-shadows, compact powder, etc. are recycled as gifts to others because it is pointless for me to use them, because they get washed away by perspiration and excess moisture!
So much ado about keeping one's complexion in a clear state. Now, back to food....yes, I am not all that angelic....sometimes I yearned to have some local delicacies and hence when sister-in-law cooked some mee goreng, I ate some with relish, and once I asked for toasted bread with a lightly fried egg and some fresh tomatoes sandwich. Amazing how forbidden fruits always taste the sweetest!
After sister-in-law returned to Penang, my second sister Ean arrived from Melbourne. I felt so loved by my siblings, relatives and felt touched by the visits of many friends and associates. My two older brothers constantly phoned me from overseas to check on my condition.
Thank you Lord for your love and for all my loved ones. Bless each and everyone of them.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 9:35 pm
I was so happy to be back in the comfort of my home on Christmas eve. My friends had invited me earlier for dinner and lunch to celebrate my birthday but I had declined because I was tired and had little appetite. I was contented to have spent
my birthday celebration together with my two nephews, Samuel and Daniel and grand-niece, Gloria as we are all born in the month of December, and eldest sister gave us all a birthday treat in a sumptuous Japanese restaurant in Johore Bahru on 9th December. Since when I was a student in Edmonton till now, somehow, my birthday celebrations had stretched from end of November to December!! My best friends, Soh Wah and Geok Sim brought me birthday and Christmas presents even when my birthday was over!
Hence, I was often bound to put on some weight in December, but this time, ironically I lost weight effortlessly! It was kind of comforting to feel lighter, and to see my features more pronounced now that some fat had been trimmed off my face! Friends who visited me were somewhat puzzled by my rosy cheeks and energy. For some reasons,
I never felt pain at all except for pain in the left leg and lower spine which had collapsed bones.
Five days later, the National Cancer Centre staff sent me a message to say that the earliest appointment I could get with Dr. Tai was 19th of January.! I called up the hospital to look for Dr. Tai to tell him that my siblings were anxious to know the results of my biopsy. I was surprised he returned my call quite fast, and confirmed that the results would be out the following day and that he would see me on the 8th of January; not 19th. Dr. Tai called me up on the same day and informed me that the tumours were malignant and in the advanced stage.
By then, my church pastor, Rev. Tang had recommended me to see Dr. Karmen Wong, a very experienced and wonderful oncologist. Eldest sister was very anxious and got me an appointment but I reminded her it would be a futile visit as there were no reports or referral letters to show her. I asked Dr. Tai for a referral letter and he immediately obliged and even suggested that I get a copy of burnt CD of my CT Scan and MRI. Eldest sister and my niece, Yann went to the NCC and were touched by the wonderful attitude of the staff. The staff by the name of Miss Rani, rushed the
burning of the CD so that Sis could collect it the following morning in time for Dr.
Karmen Wong to peruse.
I thanked God that evening during prayer time that I had bought a good insurance
policy under AVIVA Insurance. In fact, I had actually forgotten all about the policy when my ex-colleague from Dennis Wee Group told me I had already purchased it.
Grace is a part time insurance agent as well, and as she is such a lovely lady, I wanted to give her some support. Grace was happy that I had bought the policy earlier. My best friend, Soh Wah, was very pleased that I had bought because she knew I am someone who gets bored by the topic of insurance. Thank God that the company automatically deducts the yearly premiums from my Medisave. I am ashamed that whenever I received mails from AVIVA, I seldom bothered to open up my mails! I am grateful for the foresight of the CPF Board which encourages us to buy insurance polices so that the hard earned money in our Medisave would not be so easily depleted
by illnesses which require surgery, hospitalisation or chemotherapy.
Despite my condition, my heart is really full of joy and gratitude to our Heavenly Papa and my caring siblings, relatives and friends. In everything, give thanks. :-)
I remember the chorus which we often sang in church and which is my favourite:
All my confusion;
And all I had to offer Him,
Was weakness and strife;
But He made something
beautiful of my life........
Posted by The Oriental Express at 12:15 am
Friday, January 07, 2011
The next morning, my trainee doctor, Amit Jain, visited me, and was pleased that the MRI had been done. I told him I enjoyed Hindi films and am a Bollywood fan. We compared notes on the varous moviews, and when I found out that he had even watched
"Haathi Mere Saathi" as a little boy I was kind of able to guess his age almost accurately! Dr. Amit laughed and was thrilled when I sang him a Hindi song. We both appreciate Amir Khan's move productions, as his movies are always block busters.
His movies had to garner the crowds year after year, because they were only produced on a yearly basis. Amir Khan seeks perfection in his production; he believes in quality, not quantity. Oft times, he would also direct and act in his own movies.
My relatives were early and insisted on talking to the doctor. Sister and her friend, Yeh Yan, were somewhat teary eyed when they learnt about the gravity of my condition from the doctor, but because I was cheerful and optimistic, their anxiety gave way to smiles. Three physiotherapists came to see me, and one them advised to keep a walking stick given out by the orthopaedic department. I joked with the Malay physiotherapist, "Ini lah tongkat betul kah? Bukan Tongkat Ali ya?" "Is this
really a walking stick, and not Walking stick Ali?" By the way, Tongkat Ali is a kind of aphrodisaic grown in Malaysia. The staff laughed and so did some neighbouring patients who saw the tongkat. As the MRI had shown two of the bones to have collapsed on my left leg and lower spine, the doctor wants me to have
more support from a walking stick. However, Dr. Tai was more worried that some of the
tumours might have spread to the spinal bones.!
"Aha! I wonder if I were to walk into a crowded MRT station, would anyone get up for me? "Aiya, you look too young with a walking stick, peope may think you are fake!" volunteered my friend. "Then I have to dramatise a bit, and I proceeded to cough and act old and pathetic." My friends laughed. However, if some evil-intentioned people think it would be easy to rob someone with a walking stick, I would do a Bruce Lee stance with my walking stick, and proceeded to demonstrate, to everyone's laughter.
Sister had brought me a sour sop fruit to eat and some tea to drink. She has grown a tree in her garden and plucked the leaves to dry them and grind them into powder.
I feel so loved; though I may be living in Singapore by myself, I always have my relatives with me in times of need. Am indeed grateful for them, and as the youngest I am loved but not spoilt.
Perhaps an unforgetable incident which I would never forget and which shows me the wonderful attitude of the nursing staff. My best friend, Soh Wah had visited me the previous evening, and asked if I needed money for she knew I had been warded without
much preparation. I told her my wonderful friend, Amu, had come to visit me on the first night to buy me toiletries and insisted on lending me $150/-. Just then, I realised I had put my money in the pocket of the hospital pyjamas, and had thrown them into the soil bin, together with the $150/-.! I immediately told an Indian nurse in Ward 64 where I was warded. She is a sprightly and agile nurse probably because she is quite thin, but somehow she reminds me of a strong bamboo tree. She was quite frantic and immediately went to the soiled bins to search for my money. She was so happy and relieved when she found the money and I thanked her profusely after washing the money with dettol. The following morning when the same nurse saw me, she reminded me not to put the money in my pocket again.
Now, you can understand why it was difficult for me to really nominate any staff. To me they are all so excellent with their work attitude and service. Everyone is a star at the Singapore General Hospital and how I wish I could give each and everyone a prize like I did when I was a schoolteacher at River Valley High and ACS
I feel so proud of the Singapore General Hospital which has improved by leaps and boounds, Nurses are always so alert, and things are done with almost clock-work precision. Truly, the nursing and medical profession is a calling, and it demands
dedication, love for the job and most importantly, love for the suffering patients and the desire to help them improve in their health. That is probably why SGH has come up with the motto: "Patients. At the heart of all we do."
As a Christian I believe God has blessed doctors with knowledge and wisdom to treat
and bring relief and cure, but ulitmately, He is Jehovah the Healer. He finetunes all that have been done and He is ultimately the great Physician.
Thank you Lord for putting me through this experience of pain and of the realisation
I must learn to take good care of my health.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 7:58 am
Thursday, January 06, 2011
I had to fast for the biopsy, though not for the MRI. The biopsy was scheduled at
about 11.00a.m. but was delayed. I was extremely hungry as I had only eaten a
small breakfast. I told the nurse to save my lunch for me so that I could take it
after the biopsy.
I wore my glasses into the special room because I wanted to see the procedures.
The professional nurse, a graduate from Singapore Polyclinic was very amiable and
explained to me as much as he could. Just then, the doctor came and gave me a local anaesthesia, after which she put in a fat needle to extract some tissues from my liver.
The professional nurse was thoughtful to show me two of the tissues floating in a
bottle. The tissues looked like two tiny threadlike worms and would be cultivated
so that some tests could be done. God is such an awesome Creator!
Just after I entered the ward, the nurse served me lunch. I was famished and ate
a little more than usual. Just then I heard that I should prepare for my MRI, much to my surprise because it was originally scheduled at 9p.m. If I had known about the change of time, I would not have eaten my lunch, because I felt discomfort with food in my stomach when I had to lie fully on my back.
While the Indian transporter was wheeling me into the MRI centre, I sang her a song in Hindi and Tamil. When we arrived at the centre, two of the staff had a break, and
my singing must have attracted them. One of the Malay nurses, sang me a song in Mandarin - Theresa Teng's popular, "The Moon Represents My Heart." She sang so beautifully and it really made my day.
I felt somewhat breathless and uncomfortable when I was pushed into the MRI machine which looks like a tunnel. I had to press the bell for help, and seeing that I was
so uncomfortable, the staff had to abort my MRI.
When the trainee doctor came to see me the following morning, he was somewhat disappointed and thought I did not want to have the MRI done but I told him it was too soon after biopsy and lunch. I could do the MRI again, but this time, I would not eat anything to lessen the discomfort. This time, another two new staff were on duty and they were superb - when I told them I had difficulty breathing the previous attempt, they gave me a tube to attach to my nose to bring in more oxygen for me. They even gave me a head set to listen to some music. I heaved a sigh of relief after the successful MRI.
I had not wanted my siblings to know about my hospitalisation as they are living
overseas, and I do not want them to worry unnecessarily. It was only when my eldest sister called me, I informed her I was at SGH. Later when eldest brother called me
from Canada to email him some stuff, I had to tell him about my hospitalisation. Brother at first thought I was in hospital for appendicitis surgery but when he learned about my enlarged liver and the massive lesions, he was alarmed and called up
my second brother in Penang and second sister in Melbourne. Hence, my second sister-in-law Saw Kim amd second Sister Lee Lee booked their flight to Singapore to look after me. My beloved niece, Yann was also coming over from Kuala Lumpur. I was truly
touched by the love of my family.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 4:21 pm
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
A few readers have written to me to enquire as to why I have not been writing
regularly in my blog. I am thankful for their concern. The truth is I have been sick since 1st of November. It was after I came back from Kuala Lumpur, that I went to visit my doctor at the Polyclinic on 14th December to complain about my persistent vomitting, loss of appetite and weight. Immediately the doctor sensed that something was awry and sent me to have an ex-ray which showed an enlarged liver.
She immediately referred me to the A & E at the Singapore General Hospital. I told her I had planned to visit my best friend, Geok Sim who was warded at the National
University Hospital after a surgery. "No, No, please take a taxi to A & E now," the doctor continued to coax me.
I was warded at the SGH after a series of tests. That night, I was woken up at 2a.m. to do another blood test. Although I was half sleepy, I saw that the doctor was young and had flawless complexion that any lady would envy. I told him he looked very healthy and he said it is important for doctors to keep fit. An hour later, was given an ex-ray! The lady handling the ex-ray was so enthusiastic and cheerful, even at 3am in the wee hours of the morning. Gosh! The staff works round the clock at the A & E. What a fantastic work attitude!
The next morning, the hospital was a buzz of activity as nurses changed shifts.
I observed the nurses and tried to hear what they were discussing, and one senior
nurse caught my attention and asked, "Is this the first time you are warded?" I said "I was warded 28 years ago as a foreign student and now I am warded as a senior
citizen." She smiled.
I was later sent for a CT Scan, a kind of huge machine that looks like a big dryer, and you are just wheeled inside the machine for a while.
Later the senior doctor and another trainee doctor came to see me, and I thought the trainee doctor looked so sad with his head bowed down most of the time. It reminded me of people coming to pay their respects at a wake! The older doctor asked me if I had relatives around and I told him that they are all living overseas. "Why?" I asked.
"So that I could speak to them if necessary." "Doc, you can tell me everything.? Are my results bad?" "What do you think? We have sent you for a CT Scan."
"Oh...Oh! I must start singing, "Nearer my God to thee, nearer my God to thee....."
By the way, I must also rewrite my will..."
Because I was so cheerful the two doctors also started to smile.Just then, a young
lady doctor with her stethstoscope on one of her shoulders came and announced that she was from Oncology Department! When she saw me crying, she suddenly made a u-turn and that was the last I saw of her. Maybe she thought with my crying, she would
not be able to talk to me, but she did not realise I was crying over a friend's pain and sufferings over her husband's cancerous condition. I did not want to tell my friend I was in hospital with a worse condition.
Perhaps it was God's plan, because later in the afternoon, another doctor came to see me and announced himself as "Dr. David Tai". He asked me how I ended up in the ward and hence I narrated to him about my visit to the Polyclinic and finally told him that I had to see an oncologist. Only then did he gently announce, "I am the
oncologist."Dr. Tai is so gentle and tactful, and I took to him immediately.
Dr. Tai told me that the pancreas had also passed the tumour to the liver, part of the lungs, kidneys and my gall bladder had been partly compressed. I asked Dr. Tai
why he could not just cut off the affected part of the liver and he told me it was not possible and showed me the scan. There were lighter images of the lesions and somehow they reminded me of something and I told Dr. Tai, "My liver looks even prettier than the Christmas tree decorations in Orchard Road. Dr. Tai laughed. Suddenly an idea came and I said to Dr. Tai, "My liver looks like a bad mango, with black spots all over. Can you not just take a knife and
dig out the bad spots?" Dr. Tai said he wished I was a medical researcher as I had such good imagination.
I was arranged to have a biopsy to see whether the tumors are benign or malignant as well as an MRI.
Many medical students came to interview me and although it was somewhat tiring, I
obliged because if it could help them in their learning, I should play a little role.
I am so impressed with the staff which includes the doctors, nurses, supporting staff and even the medical students with their eagerness to learn.
I just love to live in Singapore, where everything works with clock work efficiency!
Chapter two will be written tomorrow, as I need to rest now.
Posted by The Oriental Express at 10:43 am