It’s been such a long time…

Been such a long time since my last post on this site. Well, I am still very much alive and kicking. On 19 April 2018, it was precisely 8 years to the day when Dr. Tay shared with me the bad news about my Rectal Cancer.

(I hadn’t updated nor access this blog for a very long time and was really amazed that there were so many visitors to my blog, some with questions and others with good wishes. I will try to find the time to go through each entry and respond to the queries though it might be many years ago since they posted it)

With 8 long years behind me now since that fateful day, each day since had been a blessing for me.

As we get older, I guess the same applies to all, that the days seems shorter unlike the time of our youth when we can sit back and procrastinate on things that matters. These eight years seems like only yesterday. Every day now is so precious to me as I am very aware that my remaining days on this planet is counting down. How much I do have left who can tell but it must be cherish.

I keep feeling that there are still so much I had not seen of the world around me, so many books and magazine I still need to read, so many documentaries and movie I wish to watch and so many nitty-gritty things I still need to prepare, arrange and get sorted out nicely before my appointment with the maker. But the running down time keeps me worrying will time be sufficient for me.

During this 8 years so much had happened. The first two years were the most life threatening period of my life as I had several major operations and even had to spend a long period in the hospital. After each operation, I got weaker and weaker and it was during this period when my weigh felled from 70kg to 39kg. (I actually look like an inmate from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp). I was all bones and even had a sunken face. I recalled telling myself probably that is how I will look when I am in the coffin.

Those two years in TTSH became like a second home to me and was without a doubt the worse period of my life. But somehow although I was in this situation, I never once give up the fight and the willpower to fight and live on was so strong within me. I believe it was my strong desire to live that helps me to pull through.

I was blessed to be surrounded by some great people who were there for me throughout my fight for survival.

The first person undoubtedly was my dear wife who was put into such a predicament barely a month after our marriage. She could had simply packed up and leave me and return to Shanghai while I rot but instead she stood by me all the way as I fought this battle of my life.

During my very first surgery, she waited alone for me from morning to late in the evening when my operation by Dr. Tay ended up taking longer than expected.

She ended up in tears when no news of my situation were forthcoming. As I was on the slow road to recovery, she kept things going at home and work. It was tough all the way as I was too weak to work nor do anything especially during those scheduled Chemotherapy sessions.

My dear friend, Mr. Yune was the one that literally pop by to see me almost everyday during my long stay in TTSH and when I was recuperating back home.

In fact I daresay one reason I am still alive today was because of him.

I cannot remember whether it was in 2011 or 2012, but it guess it was the latter, I still feeling weak, tired and suffering from all the side effects that were part and parcel of Chemo treatments.

LG were already working then so during the day time I was usually alone at home. Yune would frequently call to check on me and keep my spirit up and on occasions, he would even pop by my place to see how I was getting on.

During one of his visits, he saw me in bed very weak and looking like someone awaiting his maker. (At this time, my weight was already down to 39kg) He decided to carry me off and rush me to TTSH to check me in for observation. What he did that afternoon probably saved my life.

For that admission I actually stayed around 2 months in TTSH. It was discovered I was suffering from an Electrolyte Imbalance which was likely caused by an inflammation due to an Anal Fistula. The inflammation affected my entire body Electrolyte and it resulted in my body not being able to absorb any nutrients from what I eat. This causes me to lose weight and become weak.

I ended up being force fed in TTSH with special packs of Nutrients food that was fed directly via IV drips into my veins to force the absorption of the nutrients into my body system. Those huge packets of Nutrients weren’t cheap I should add, but it did work and gradually after several weeks, life returns in me.

That was the worse period of my life and even Dr. Tay commented that if I did not re-admit myself soon enough I could had become too weak and could even had died. Yune saved me.

When I finally started to regain back my weight and strength, I even started returning back to work.

My eldest sister constantly provided me with health food and supplement and her daughters also took the time to develop fruits and vegetable to me. My niece, Wai Cheng also introduce me to the 5-Elements Vegetable Soup which I constantly make and drink throughout the period of my recovery over those 2 years. My sister and nieces really took the time and for that I am also eternally grateful.

After my recovery, LG and I decided to get rid of our apartment in Bishan and we found a new home in Buangkok that we both loved.

In 2013, we moved into our new apartment which is on the top floor, bright and airy. Our old home was on level 2, dark and stuffy.

But during these 8 years, two persons who are so close and dear to me passed on. The first to go in 2014 was my second brother.

His death was so quick and sudden. He had Stomach Cancer, but by the time it was detected, he was already at Stage IV. From the time it was diagnosed till his death was merely 3 months.

It was a pity he could not lived on and until today the family members still misses him. (Ironically, tomorrow is 9/11 and it is actually his birthday as I am typing this out). I might not be ready to publish this post yet but it is nice to know his birthday is just a day away.

Barely six months later in Feb 2015, it was my mother who passed away from old age. For more than 10 years she been suffering from Alzhemier’s disease.

By the time she died, she could not even recognised any one of his children. But I am happy she died peacefully from old age. She died at the age of 91.

After we shifted into our new home, both LG and I decided it was best I quit working and just take care of my health and look after the home.

So for the last 4 years I had not been working.

Although I am in remission, but sadly I am still having Anal Fistula. Originally, the plan was to drain the Fistula and once that is settled, undergo another minor operation to eliminate the Fistula completely.

But unfortunately, it was easier say than done. Doing my own research on the Web I read lots of articles by others with the same problem and many of them are still living with the Fistula but had found ways to cope with it.

I had also learned to cope with it and though like any other health issues, there are inconveniences, but overall I am doing well.

I still travel a lot with my wife and though ensuring public toilets are easily accessible wherever we travel, there seem to be no holding me back as far as holidaying is concern.

The moment I wake up each morning, the first thing I do is to take my medication. Actually they are Supplements. The only medication is the tablets prescribed by Dr. Tay to slow down my gut so wouldn’t need to find a toilet after a meal. The IBS issue within me will remains unfortunately. So I need to take this pill for the rest of my life.

But what had really kept me going is my dear wife who had not only stand by me throughout but had sacrifices so much for me. Because of me, her stress levels had also risen.

If I did not survive the Cancer, I would not had seen my only grandson, Travis Jay Chan who was born in 2016.

I am therefore so ‘Thankful’ to God for sparing my life, my wife. My family and my small group of the closest friends that I am blessed to have by my side,

This last 8 years had been great just being able to live and breath and I sure look forward to many, many more years to come.

The only sad part is seeing 2 persons who are so dear to me past on.

Like my wife says, “I hope you outlive me”

Hope it would not take too long before I post again after this is published…

JC

9/2018

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2015 and it’s still far from over

Although there’s so much for me to be “Thankful”, I still so far off from being able to say, “Life is back to normal”. Until now, I am still living with an ileostomy, Stoma base/bag and I still having daily discharges of pus from the anal fistula. Other than these discomforts, the fact that I am still surviving and able to eat, sleep, walk and travels are all comforting for me.

Come April 19 of this year, it would be 5 years to the day when Dr. Tay shared with me the news that I had Rectal Cancer. So much had happened during this period. I had 3 major operations, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy ¬†treatments to eliminate and destroy the cancer in me. I finally sold away my flat in Bishan and my wife and I got our new home in Buangkok. But what is sad about the past 5 years was the sudden demise of my 2nd brother, Huei San. He was diagnose with Stage 4 Stomach cancer in March 2014 and by June the same year, he had left us. His death was so quick and sudden that until today I still hadn’t gotten over it. He was only 66 years of age. It was just too early for him to go.

For the past year, other than the fact I still carrying an ileostomy with a Stoma base/bag, overall my health had been very good. I had totally regained my appetite and had regained all the weight I had lost during those days when I was losing so much of my body weight. From a low of 39.9kg, I am now back to 70kg.

But I am still not completion out of the fire. I still having this annoying Anal Fistula in my anal region that till today is just refusing to heal. Even though Dr. Tay created an ileostomy at the end of my small intestine and therefore closing my colon to prevent infection affecting the fistula, there is still no sign of healing. Day in and day out I am still discharging lots of pus from my anal opening.

Even though Dr. Tay inserted a Rubberband Seton in my anal region to aid in the draining of the pus, there are no end of pus in my body. So far, all the blood test conducted, the result had been good. But what still worries me is the fact that I still have lots of barium lingering in my colon that makes it impossible for me to have any CT scan conducted. Another concern is the fact that during my last Colonoscopy, Dr. Tay was not able to check my colon as the anal opening was block and he could not insert his scope into my colon to check the colon lining. According to Dr. Tay, the blockage was due to skin growth in the anal region.

Due to high out-patient charges incured each time during my medical appointment with Dr. Tay, he had advised me to visit a Polyclinic and request for a specialist referral letter from the doctor there to see a specialist in a government hospital regarding my medical condition. With the letter, I could then re-register at a lower class and hopefully at a cheaper rate.

Since my last appointment with Dr. Tay in December 2014, he had closed my medical reports with him. But I had yet to see the doctor at the Polyclinic for a referral letter.

Continue reading

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It’s been a long ride… and still nowhere near the end

2011 had been a year to forget as far as my health is concern. After the shocker of 2010, I was expecting 2011 to be the year when I finally made a comeback from my cancer-shock. But it was not to be.

Since then, I been experiencing one health hiccup after another. I had a total of 3 major operations, several minor ones and as of now, I am still wearing a stoma bag and my problem in my buttock still a big issue for me.

The more experience I have now with my health issues the better the understanding I am now getting regarding my problem. I believe now that since my first operation until now, I had been having a serious Abscess problem in my rectum region. This problem was never targeted till very much later when I noticed I kept having the feeling of diarrhea when I had a stoma reversal after my 2nd major operation.

In the 3rd operation, when I had the ‘Bowel Obstruction’, Dr. Tay had to create an Ileostomy again. So now I am back on the Stoma bag again. The purpose this time was to give time for the Abscess to self-heal so the colon is blocked to prevent waste material to getting into contact with the abscess and create more problems. I now believe that when I had the inflammation during the 3rd Op, it was deal to the abscess spreading to my intestine.

I had done much research on the web regarding ‘Anorectal Abscess’, and what I had read so far doesn’t sound good. In most reports, it mentioned that Self-healing is hard and in most cases, a major surgery is required to eliminate the abscess. I really hope not for I really cannot bear going in again for another operation.

But I really want this to clear so that I can have the stoma reversal and have my life back again. My stoma discharges are so frequent and it really makes life so difficult for me. I had to be close to a toilet at all times. I cannot wear nice clothes and I cannot expose my body.

There are 3 majors issues still.

1. Getting rid of the abscess in my rectum and not having to feel that I need to go toilet all the time.

2. Having a stoma reversal so that life can be back to normal. Not having to wear stoma base & bag. Most important not needing to be near a toilet all the time and not needing to worry that I expose the bag or the bag leaks like what had happened twice already.

3. Getting rid of the barium that are still residing in my colon.

 

 

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10 months past and still no sign of returning to a normal

It’s been a long while since my last update. Sadly, I do not have anything good to highlight regarding my medical condition. Since the Resection & the liver operation, I still not been able to take control of my bowel.

Having to wear adult diapers whenever I am out of my house is bad enough but even at home I had to wear woman’s tampons in case of discharge.

During the last few months, since June or so, my discomfort in the rectum region had gotten worse. Until today, I am still discharging lots of mucus whenever I visit the toilet. At times, there are even blood in the mucus. I read somewhere that cancer cells feeds on our mucus discharge. I just hope this is not true.

I am finding it harder and harder to push out my poo and even then it is not always I got poo. It is so hard to push whatever little poo out of my system and now even my buttocks & thighs are beginning to feel painful & I do have cramps there.

There are also blockages in my small intestine due to adhesions and this had mainly been the reason why I am having diarrhea all the time. The trapped waste in my small intestine are contaminated with bad bacteria that creates lots of gas in my intestine and also competing with my body for proteins and other good nutrients. I am losing so much weight because these bad bacteria are getting a main share of my nutrients. I used to weight around 66kg but now I am hovering around at 48kg.

The blockage cause my abdomen to be bloated and cramps too. When it comes, I just cannot do anything at all.

Recently did a CEA blood test and CT scan and no cancer was found. But Dr. Tay, my colon surgeon is concern about the discomfort in my rectum region. During the last colonscopy conducted in Dec 2010, my rectum was clean. The CT scan report indicated that there was some thickening in my rectum tissues and the report mentioned, it could be a recurrence. Further investigations advised.

Dr. Tay does not suspect it is a recurrence, but instead he thinks it is the result of the radiotherapy treatment that I had in May 2010. I will be going for a MRI scan this week and also another round of colonscopy this Saturday morning . Hopefully with these 2 tests, Dr. Tay will be in better position to plan for my next cause of action to get me back to my feet again. It is almost 2 years and I still had not regain my quality of life.

 

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Just an update on my current situation…

At the beginning of 2011, I was eagerly looking ahead to a wonderful year. With the completion of my chemo treatments & stoma reversal operation, I expected my body to regain normalcy as soon as possible. I was even dreaming about doing some traveling with my wife.

It’s already April. and any sign of normal life seems far-fetched. I reached the stage whereby being in close proximity to a toilet is my ultimate comfort zone. Planning any outing in advance is out of the question. I got my good & bad BM days to consider. But of course, if we meet in the loo, who cares whether the day is good or bad.

I had lost so much weight since November 2010. Due to the constant severe diarrhea and my body not digesting & converting my food intake to it’s nutrients elements, I’m looking more like an Auschwitz inmate.

Before I realized I had cancer, I gave away lots of old jeans, pants, shirts, T-shirts that were too small to the Salvation Army. Now I wish I still had them for what I had now are all too big for me and I need to use a belt to keep my pants up. I don’t even want to look at myself in the mirror.

In the past, I always enjoyed eating all types of food. But now, with my erratic BM, I had to be very careful what I put into my body. The wrong food would trigger a severe bout of diarrhea. When it comes, I just had to make sure I am at home and close to the loo at all times.

I checked my weight and was shocked I am around 55kg. It means I had lost more than 10kg since my last operation. For more than 2 months, my bowel felt like constantly in a diarrhea-state. I hardly had a day where by bowel seems normal.

Eating a wrong food will immediately trigger a severe diarrhea attack. Once that happens, my entire day is ruined. I am at a lost as to why my intestine/colon doesn’t seem to be able to digest the food I consume properly. I am taking Lactoguard (Restores the balance of Good bacteria for overall digestive, immunity & energy), Acidophilus tablets¬† and also digestive enzymes tablets on a daily basis, but yet I will still getting severe diarrhea almost every 3 or 4 days. At times, when the diarrhea is so severe, I had to end up swallowing 6 charcoal pills. I tried my best to avoid charcoal for it absorbs everything, including my supplements which I take everyday.

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Still far from Perfect…

It has been more than 4 months since I had my stoma reversal operation. Till now, my bowel movements is still very erratic and unpredictable. I got my good days but so far they been mainly bad days.

Since my colon was re-connected to my Intestine, I been averaging around 20 – 30 visits to the loo per day to move my bowels. On days when I do not have diarrhea, it’s not so bad. But it is really amazing how much stools I had inside me. Since my rectum is so much smaller after the removal of the tumor, what remains is not able to hold a lot of stools. So, whenever my stools reaches my rectum, a signal is immediately send to my brain to get me to BM as soon as possible. (That’s why I need to be in close proximity to a loo at all times)

I do have constipation days & diarrhea days. During constipation days, I can visit the loo many times but there is nothing discharge accept the occasional mucus. But the worse is those days when I am having diarrhea. I can visit the loo so many times but always end up feeling that it is not complete. During diarrhea days, my butt also feels so painful and I feel burn in the anal region.

Until now, I still do not know what trigger my diarrhea or constipation. But it must certainly be due to what I eat and drink. I really do not know what food is causing my problem. Since 25 March 2011, I had started an Excel spreadsheet to record what I consume each morning, afternoon & evening. I also keep tag of what medication I took each day, how my BM reacted during each part of the day and whether I had diarrhea, constipation or cramps in my abdomen.

Hopefully with this daily record, I be able to pinpoint what food is causing my excessive BM, diarrhea or constipation.

I also started having abdominal cramps off and on. The first time I felt the cramps was on 25 Feb 2011. When it comes, it is so painful. I had to lie down flat. Since I am now back to work, this is very difficult for me as my job requires me to sit down in front of the computer. Recently, I had abdominal cramps in the office and it was so severe, I just bear with the pain till the end of the work day. Dr. Tay had given me some painkiller to ease the pain. Initially, when I first had the cramps, popping a painkiller works wonder, but lately when the drug did not seem to work as well. Could it be my body had started to reject the drug?

I started taking Loperamide (Imodium), 3 times a day and also 2 sachets of Fybogel. The Loperamide does helps with the diarrhea and the Fybogel prevents constipation but end up with lots of stools being discharge during my BM.

But even then, I still have my diarrhea days. I hope soon I be able to pinpoint what food is causing my problem. My current situation really affecting my quality of life. Planning to do something with friends is not easy for I never know on that day whether it will be a good BM day or bad BM day.

I had 2 X-Rays taken of my abdominal region. Dr. Tay saw lots of gas being trapped in my intestine and suspect they are also blockages due to food consumed and not absorbed by my digestive system. Dr. Tay wanted me to cut down on vegetables, fruits with skins and also mushrooms. Since then I hardly been eating any vegetables and fruits except in juiced form.

Will be seeing Dr. Tay on 2 April. Hope there is a solution to my problems soon.

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A New Year, A New Start…

Happy Lunar New Year to one & all. I hope that the Year of the Rabbit will be a happy & healthy year for everyone including myself.

Now that I had completed my cancer treatments, it is all up to me to maintain my health. Ensuring I eat well and limiting my craving for non-healthy food. I had to keep taking my regular supply of supplements and take up some form of exercises. To top it all up, I must remain stress-free.

Seems easy but to be frank, it is not what you might think. At the back of my mind, I am constantly worrying that the cancer might run wild again. The next few years will be very critical for me.

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