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Archive for the ‘God Knows Leh’ Category

Exactly one year ago, on 1st June 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember that day in the doctor’s office very vividly.

Before that, cancer was a scary sickness which I would hear about now and then that someone had. Until it hit home. Now, I have become one of those people other people hear about.

How has life changed over the past year? 

Well, my most frequented places have been the doctors’ clinics. 

There was a whole series of tests and scans, followed by surgery and 9 days in hospital. 

Then, it was followed on with 6 cycles of 3-weekly chemotherapy for 4 and half months. 

Thereafter, I have been continuing on 3-weekly Herceptin and Pertuzameb antibody injections. Come July, I will complete 1 year of antibody injections.

I am also on a 3-monthly Lucrin injection to take me to early menopause and daily Tamoxifen tablets for the next 5 years.

In between those, I had 3-6 weekly blood tests, 6-weekly heart scans, a brain scan, lungs scan and another full body scan. Soon, I am up for another mammogram.

In the midst of these, I became acquainted with people around me battling cancer. I got to know two ladies from Ben’s work circles who were diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after my diagnosis. A mum from Caleb’s kindy also got in touch with me to share her recent breast cancer diagnosis. We shared our diagnosis and treatments. I have been praying for all of them as well as for 2 other ladies fighting cancer. 

As I reflect on this year past, I am clear on one thing. I reject cancer and give it no place and no credit in my identity. 

I refuse to call myself a cancer patient. I do not call myself a cancer survivor either. I am simply someone who was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am well now and I will live my life well, without the shadow of cancer obscuring my life lens.

I remind myself that my identity is in Christ. I am a child of God. And that’s where I will fix my eyes on. The right C. The most powerful C. Christ is my answer.

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 Related Posts:

God Knows Leh #2 – I really didn’t want to drink this chemo cup

Inside-out Kid #2 –It’s not fair, I didn’t want you to be in hospital!

 

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Today is Thank God for Family, Friends and Favour Friday!

I disappeared from social media for the entire January and most of February since this year started. It was partly because my eyesight got blurry from staring at my phone too much the past few months….and I now own a pair of reading glasses ie. I’ve joined the Lau Hua Yan club.  And partly that I have resumed my routine of ferrying my 6-year old to Kindergarten and started writing too. 

I began the year with my writing residency at Gardens by the Bay, where I have taken several walks to plot my new manuscript. I’m also doing some writing and publishing work for 2 repeat clients.

In between all that, we celebrated Caleb’s 6th birthday, followed by Chinese New Year where I caught up with friends on top of the family visits.

But when someone emailed to ask if she needed to subscribe to my blog again to receive blogposts, I noted that I should update on where I am at.

I have ongoing 3-weekly antibodies injections (Herceptin and Pertuzameb) till July, which will be the end of this 1 year treatment. I am also on a 3-monthly Lucrin injection to take me to early menopause. And I am on daily Tamoxifen tablets.

I believe I am healed and well. So, to me, these are extra vitamins and supplements to strengthen my body.

It’s 3 months since my final chemotherapy cycle. I’ve grown from Sinead O Connor’s botak head to Annie Lennox’s super short cut. In another 3 months, I should get to Demi Moore’s Ghost hairstyle.

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My Annie Lennox phase – having my antibodies infusion yesterday

Until then, I’ll switch my assemble of K-pop wig, surgeon scrub caps, newsboy caps or commando like when I went for my medical appointment yesterday.

I thank God for family, friends and His seeing me through a rough 2016 and for His continued favour in this new year!

Psalms 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

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Today is Thank God for Family, Friends and Favour Friday! This Friday, on the eve’s eve of Christmas, I want to take time to thank God for:

1)      The still small voice who prompted me to do a self-examination earlier this year, which led to my early breast cancer diagnosis. I thank God for the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

2)      The doctors who came my way through various relationships – my breast surgeon, plastic surgeon and oncologist – and have been a blessing with their skills and care

3)      The friendship and favour from many whom I got to know over these 6 months

4)      The prayers and support from friends from many circles of friendship, from past work circles to school friends of over 20-30 years to Caleb’s Kindy, amongst others

5)      God’s provisions through big and small needs, from our insurance coverage to seeing me through surgery without pain and chemotherapy with minimal side effects

6)      My parents who have helped ferry Caleb to Kindy and his other activities since my 1st June diagnosis

7)      The bible readings that have revealed to me so many truths these few months, especially on health and healing

8)      The words impressed upon me multiple times on heart issues which I have been unpacking and releasing – a detoxing of the heart

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9)      Ben, who has stoically supported me through this wilderness period and is a wonderful dad to Caleb

10)   For Christmas – for Jesus Christ, who came to bring forgiveness, peace and love to this broken world

Psalms 119:165   Those who love your teachings will find true peace

Jeremiah 29:13  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart

 

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise” – Psalms 42:4

Related posts:

God Knows Leh #17 – Rainbows for chasing Start & End Date Chemo Blues

Inside-Out Kid #6 – I want to be with Mummy till Infinity

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With gratitude and a full stomach, I had my final chemotherapy session this week. My plan was to finish this last chemo session with Char Kway Teow. But the Zion Road Char Kway Teow hawker closed his stall to attend his daughter’s graduation.

I did have a ducklicious equivalent- Kam’s Roast, the Michelin Starred restaurant from Hong Kong which recently opened in Singapore. Kam’s Roast is founded by a 3rd generation family member of the famed Yung Ke Goose in Hong Kong.

Thanks to Ben who has been catering to my food cravings during every chemo session – starting from chicken rice, moving onto Teochew mee kiah and then Zion Road Char Kwayteow by chemo session 5.

I should qualify that my diet has improved in healthiness by leaps and bounds since the breast cancer diagnosis on 1st June. I’ve endeavored to eat one course of fish and two courses of vegetables every day as well as cutting off sugar. But you can’t take Singaporean food from a Singaporean. So I have my occasional indulgences. And what better time than during chemo when all those drugs are being pumped in to whack out the bad stuff in the body?

My oncologist is continuing me on 3-weekly antibodies injections for another 7 months. I’ve completed 5 months of these injections to date, which were done together with chemotherapy. I’ll also be on 3-monthly injections to take me to early menopause. The analysis of the tumour had shown it to be triple positive (progesterone+, estrogen+ and HER2+). In my layman’s speak, my body is too hormonally active and my oncologist is taming the hormones down several notches.

Since these aren’t as potent as the chemo drugs, I look forward to returning to normal routine. I should say ‘new normal’ because these few months have been life-changing and has altered some of my perspectives on life.

It’s been a long 6 months since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer on 1st June this year. As I count my blessings, I am especially grateful for family and friends who have supported and encouraged me through this journey:

  • Many friends who have been receiving my whatsapp prayer updates and prayed for me as well as other friends who checked in on me over the months
  • My parents who have helped with ferrying Caleb to Kindy and his other activities.
  • Ben who has accompanied me for all my doctor visits and sat through every 5-hour chemo/antibodies treatment with me

I know it is only by God’s grace that I have sustained through this wilderness period. The joy of the Lord has been my strength.

I had originally planned my Tibby & Scaredy Snout and Benji, Yumi, Origami! double book launch cum celebration party on the weekend after my final chemo cycle. But the chemo cycle was delayed 3 weeks till after the party. My friend Bernice said that was better because I would then be celebrating my healing in faith. And so I did. I thank God that I am well and healed in Jesus’ name.

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“These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival”           – Psalms 42: 4

Related posts:

God Knows Leh #5- I ate chicken rice for my first chemotherapy session

Inside-out Kid #2 –It’s not fair, I didn’t want you to be in hospital!

 

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Today is TGFFF – Thank God for Family, Friends & Favour Friday!

October is my wedding anniversary and birthday month. This year has been especially significant, following the breast cancer diagnosis, as I am reminded to cherish my time with my family and friends.

Family!

Ben took leave on my birthday and we had a quiet lunch together.

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I also decided to attempt 9-holes golf for the first time since my mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. I wasn’t sure how my reconstructed body would hold up given I only have my left six-pack muscles in my tummy. (My right six-pack was promoted upwards to become the left breast.) Well, I got through 5-holes and managed to tee off further than pre-surgery. So that’s a good start.

Friends!

For our 18th wedding anniversary, we decided to celebrate with a group of close friends. I asked our friends to come in matching couple outfits and everyone did so sportingly. No prizes for guessing who won 1st prize for the Best Matched Couple. (Their photo is the biggest amongst our friends).

 

For my birthday week, I also caught up with both old and newer friends.

 

Favour!

I caught a strong flu bug right after my last round of chemo and was holed up at home for a week. It was a reminder to rest and not run ahead of myself. And that reminder came through again when my last chemotherapy session scheduled for today had to be postponed.

My heart scan showed up some fluid retention around the heart which could possibly be due to a side effect of a chemo drug or from the recent bout of flu. I will need to do a follow-up review in 3 weeks before the final chemo session can be scheduled.

I’m thankful for my oncologist who has seen me through all this over the past 15 weeks of chemo treatment. As I approach the tail-end of chemo (now delayed by another 3 weeks), I need to be still and wait patiently for this season to pass.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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Today is TGFFF – Thank God for family, friends and favour Friday!

Favour!

I had my 5th chemotherapy session yesterday – a day earlier than usual as my oncologist is on leave today.

My 4th chemo cycle went extremely well and I feel better than ever.

Family!

For the first time in 4 months since the breast cancer diagnosis, I did the following:

  • Had my first cup of coffee (turns out I didn’t miss it since switching to green tea)
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Having my 1st cup of coffee in 4 months at Chop Suey over at lunch with Ben

 

  • Went to Tanjong Beach with Caleb, followed by pizza with live music (a family routine we used to do) where he (i.e. Caleb) made his song request for Adele’s Hello. Caleb was so thrilled that he didn’t stop talking from the time we left home till we got to the beach.
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Building sandcastles at Sentosa’s Tanjong beach

 

  • Took Caleb to Botanic Gardens to feed the fishes, where he talked non-stop to the fishes and turtles for 1 hour. (I had avoided doing that because I didn’t know if I had the energy to catch him if he sprinted off.)
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On the way to feed fishes at Botanics

 

  • Took Caleb to his Kindy exhibition (after missing out on his last few Kindy activities)
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Attending Caleb’s Kindy Exhibition which was nicely uncrowded

 

Friends!

Over the past few months, a number of friends from eons back reconnected with me after reading my God Knows Leh blog posts.

Amongst them:

An old MGS school mate whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years came over to visit.

A friend from Bible Study Fellowship from 10 years back emailed to encourage me.

And last week, a friend I made through work 20 years back came to see me. I was then in my second job at a Malaysian start-up property company. Madeline was with Epigram (long before it started publishing books) and working on a commemorative book for my company. Back then, we didn’t have mobile phones, emails or social media so we lost touch after I left that job.

Madeline contacted me after reading my blogposts and we finally met up again! Long lost friends – literally – but we didn’t miss a beat getting right into heart talk and catching up on each other’s lives. I’m thankful for our paths coming together again.

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With long-lost friend Madeline – 20 years later

 

And this week, I caught up with my dear friend Karen (and my bridesmaid once upon a time) over lunch – something we haven’t done for  some time.

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Two October babies celebrating our birthdays in advance

 

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

 

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I was scheduled for a mastectomy surgery about one week after I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Ben asked me, “Do you want to have a prayer party before surgery?” 

I had no idea what that was but a party sounded good. “Okay,” I said. “But let’s keep in simple.” 

“We should have someone lead the songs,” said Ben. He asked our friend Joseph, who works as an evangelist.

“We should ask a few church elders to come pray for me,” I said. 

We have a church friend around our age who was diagnosed with lymphoma a month before me. We invited him so he could also be prayed for.

One SMS invitation led to another. 

It was starting to look a bit too big so we stopped inviting more people.

My friend Jing Siew texted to check if I wanted her husband Simon to help with the songs. I asked them to bring their guitar and a few songs as backup. They also wanted to bring some communion elements and asked me, “Is there a pastor to bless the bread and “wine”?

I checked with my friend Bernice if her husband, a Reverend, could come and “work overtime”. She said yes.

 

As it turned out, the prayer party ended up on the evening before my surgery day.

It was a weekday night. We expected many to be coming from work and latecomers. So we catered a dinner spread of Mee Siam and few other dishes. 

I didn’t actually keep track of how many we invited. But when everyone arrived, we had a full house.

Jing Siew showed up with a projector and screen for the songs segment. Which we didn’t need in the end because Joseph came with his guitar and song sheet handouts.

Although we threw the prayer party, I actually had no idea what we were supposed to do. Soo Inn and Joseph shook hands, worked out an order to the evening and suddenly our prayer party had turned into an organised church service. The party was looking anything but simple.

Joseph led us in a few worship songs.

Soo Inn shared a prepared message (or should I say sermon) and blessed the communion elements which my family took.

Except my 5-year old. “I don’t want to drink this. I want Ribena!” Caleb announced rather loudly to the house.

There was a polite silence. So I said, “Well, some things in life are just not in your control.”

Laughter ended the awkward silence.

We proceeded with communion. 

I planned to say a few words, essentially to thank everyone for coming and let them know that I was headed for surgery the next day. I ended up sharing my story of how I received 5 coincidental “No Matter What” messages in the days leading up to my diagnosis and beyond. 

Then Joseph told me that he had a No Matter What song for me. My 6th No Matter What. How could it be so co-incidental? I was speechless.

For the first time since my prayer party started, I broke down and cried. 

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Caleb immediately came over. He patted me on the back like an adult would and gave me a tissue to dry my tears. 

Then, Soo Inn invited friends to pray for me. My 15-year old niece was the first. She spoke about how I read her the first manuscript I ever wrote when she was 6 years old and told me that I would continue writing many more stories. She suddenly felt awkward and blurted, “I don’t know how to pray.”

Caleb immediately quipped, “Just say God loves you!”

Which brought on more laughter.

And so one person after another prayed for me. And before we knew it, our prayer party lasted over two hours. And amazingly, everyone stayed through.

I slept soundly that night, bathed in love and prayer. And the next day, as I was wheeled into the operating theatre, I went with the assurance that God would uphold me through it all. I was wheeled out, about 6 hours later, without any pain from the double surgery.

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Related Link:

God Knows Leh #4 – A Pebble in Breast and 7 No Matter Whats

Inside-out Kid #2 –It’s not fair, I didn’t want you to be in hospital!

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