On 28 April 2022, my whole life changed.
I was scheduled for colonoscopy on 29 April 2022. On the night before, I had to take large amounts of a bowel clearing solution.
After a few cups, I started vomiting. I felt awful.
In the late hours of that night, I was rushed to the A&E department of Changi General Hospital. There, the medical team attended to me, and did many scans and tests.
Eventually, a senior specialist doctor was called, and he detected a tumor in my rectal area. The next day, on 29 April 2022, more tests and scans were scheduled. They confirmed the tumor.
But, there was blockage with my bowel system. As such, the senior specialist doctor decided to do an emergency stoma operation. It was to solve the immediate problem of bowel blockage.
So, on 29 April 2022, I had a stoma operation. And that was just the start of this entire situation. Following that, I have to go through 6 months to 1 year of treatment to remove the cancer.
As such, my life changed a lot. And in this section, I share my healing with cancer journey.
I hope it helps creates awareness of cancer, and help people be more sensitive to cancer patients. Also, to help cancer patients who go through what I experience, and know they are not alone.
- My Stoma Operation
- After Stoma Operation
- Updated My Followers on My YouTube Channel
- Rest Before Radiotherapy Treatment
- The Radiotherapy Sessions
- Day #1 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Side Effect – Fever
- Day #2 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Dealing with Side Effects
- Day #3 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Loss of Appetite
- Day #4 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Settled Routine
- Day #5 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Unnecessary Delays
- Day #6 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Nights Were Harder
- Day #7 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – A Better Day
- Day #8 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Bleeding is Serious Side Effect
- 2 Weeks Break After Radiotherapy Treatments
- A New Beginning
- The Chemotherapy Sessions
- Two Weeks of Chemotherapy Pills
- I Fell! And Concern About Infection
- A Moment of Anger and Frustration
- Last Day of Taking Chemotherapy Pills for 1st Cycle
- A Week of Rest
My Stoma Operation
As mentioned, I had the stoma operation on Friday, 29 April 2022 afternoon. And it was a success.
To be honest, before all this happened, I never heard of a stoma. What is a stoma? What is it all about?
All I knew at that time of emergency was that I needed help. I needed the operation to solve the problem of bowel blockage.
I simply agreed to the stoma operation because the senior specialist said it was the best solution.
Today, I look back at what happened, and the stoma I have, I wish there could have been an even better solution. One that did not require a stoma.
It has been rather inconvenient. And I have to learn to live with it.
I still hope that after the cancer is removed, the stoma can be removed too. The senior specialist did say that it could be a possibility.
After Stoma Operation
After the stoma operation, I recuperated at a ward at Changi General Hospital. I had lost a lot of weight, and my appetite was not good. Also, I was physically weak from the operation.
Recuperating at a hospital is not ideal. You are put on a drip, and cannot move around easily. Every hour, every hour, a nurse comes to check blood pressure, or administer medication, or just check some vitals.
You can never get good night’s sleep or rest. As such, I did not like the time there. I did my best to get better and stronger so that I can get discharged, and go home.
At home, it is a much better place to rest and recover.
Finally, on May 5 2022, I was strong enough and well enough for the senior specialist to give the approval for me to be discharged from the hospital.
I was so happy to return home to rest and recover. At least, I can do it with less interruptions from the nurses at the ward.
But, I still remember that the treatment for cancer continues for next 6 months to a year. And so, my healing with cancer journey continues.
Updated My Followers on My YouTube Channel
While I rested at home, I started to feel stronger and better. And I started to look into continuing the affiliate marketing business I had running.
The first thing I did was to review my entire business strategy. I realized that with all that has happened, I needed to reboot and revamp all my businesses.
The first step I did was to choose 1 YouTube channel to focus on. So, on May 7 2022, I chose my personal channel as the main YouTube channel.
And I did a video update to all my followers. The update was to explain why I’ve not been posting videos on my YouTube channel. And also, the new direction of the channel.
Below is the video I posted. Please watch. And kindly support me by going to my YouTube channel to subscribe.
Rest Before Radiotherapy Treatment
The first series of treatment for cancer scheduled for me was the radiotherapy treatment. It would be 8 consecutive days of radiotherapy.
But, the treatment did not start immediately after the stoma operation. I was given a few weeks to rest, and get better and stronger. This is partly so that my body can take the radiotherapy treatments.
My first priority was to gain some weight. I lost a lot of weight after the surgery. I was previously around 90 kg, and dropped to 67 kg after operation.
Side Effect – Loss of Appetite
It did not help that after the stoma surgery, I experienced a loss of appetite. Also, food tasted different.
I heard from nurses that many patients commented that they lost any taste of food, or food tasted less flavorful or tasty
For me, it was the opposite. Foods and dishes that I previously enjoyed had a much stronger taste and flavor.
The flavors and tastes were overwhelming. It was not palatable.
For example, a dish as simple as fried chicken. The taste of sauces used to flavor the chicken would be too much for me.
In the end, I had to eat food and dishes that are less flavored
I wondered if that was normal? And did a Google search about it.
Thankfully, it turned out that it is normal for men to lose their appetite after an operation. And also, for foods to taste different, too.
Good news is, over time, as I tried to eat the usual food, my taste buds improved. Today, I can eat most foods and they taste all right.
And then there was the radiotherapy. The oncologist for radiotherapy did caution me that some people do lose their appetites after treatment. She advised I try my best to eat small meals.
So, after operation, I’ve experienced loss of appetite. Now, facing radiotherapy, I may lose it again.
I just hope not. I’ve lost too much weight.
Then there may be other radiotherapy side effects. Although, the oncologist did say not everyone experience all the side effects. Some people even had none.
I hope I belong to the latter.
Side Effect – Not Enough Sleep
This is more of a side effect from the surgery. My rectal area still works, and the cancer cells would often discharge some form of mucus or fluid. This happens almost every half an hour or hour.
I would go to bed around 8pm. And would manage to some sleep for a short while. Usually, until around 11 pm. If I am lucky, I might sleep until 2 am. But, this is often rare.
Around 11 pm, I would wake to pee or release mucus from rectal area. And this would go on every half an hour or every hour until 4 am to 6 am.
Thankfully, I can rest during the day. Sometimes, I get to nap, a little shuteye now and then.
The Radiotherapy Sessions
After the stoma operation, I had a few weeks rest. Or was supposed to.
But it turned out there was not really time to fully and completely rest.
There were the post operation medical appointments that I had to attend to. And then there were the appointments with the oncologists to prepare for the radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments.
I wished there was really days of full rest. But as it was, it was not possible. As such, I was often tired. Maybe even exhausted.
Eventually, after the supposed few weeks rest, the radiotherapy sessions began. It started from 30 May 2022 till 8 June 2022. In total, I was put to 8 consecutive days of radiotherapy sessions.
Here are the links to the posts for each day of the radiotherapy sessions: (coming soon)
Day #1 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Side Effect – Fever
Read about my first day of radiotherapy treatment experience. Includes about the difficult train ride, the treatment process, and one of the side effects of radiotherapy.
Day #2 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Dealing with Side Effects
As mentioned earlier, there are side effects due to the radiotherapy treatment. I had a mild fever. And was fine.
On the second day of radiotherapy treatment, I learned what were the more serious side effects to watch out for.
Day #3 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Loss of Appetite
Another side effect that I had was loss of appetite. On the 3rd day of radiotherapy treatment, I thought about this side effect, and how I had lost a lot of body mass and weight.
Another side effect, which continued since my stoma surgery, was a lack of sleep and rest.
Day #4 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Settled Routine
By the the 4th day of radiotherapy treatment, I have settled into a routine. I had a specific time to get ready for transport to the treatment center, to have lunch, to get the treatment, and then back home to rest.
Day #5 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Unnecessary Delays
One thing I note about the local hospitals in Singapore is how bad they are at keeping to the scheduled appointments. I mean, I understand there would be delays due to some patients causing them.
But, to me, it looked like really bad scheduling skills when every appointment gets delayed. And worse, when they intentionally do it.
On the 5th day of radiotherapy treatment, I had enough of these intended delays, and gave the radiation therapists a good verbal chiding.
Day #6 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Nights Were Harder
Ever since the stoma surgery, I had not been able to get a good night’s sleep. It started at the hospital where the nurses would disturb patients, at night, every hour to check vitals like blood pressure.
Then, when I was back home, it was hard to get back to a full night of rest. The reason would be in my post about the 6th day of radiotherapy treatment. Go read about it.
Day #7 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – A Better Day
Finally, a day that is much better than the other days when I went for radiotherapy treatments. In the 7th day of radiotherapy treatment, you get to find out what happened, and why it was a so much better day than the other previous 6 days.
Day #8 of #8 radiotherapy treatment – Bleeding is Serious Side Effect
I had some blood shown on the mucus discharge. And I informed the doctor on duty on the 8th day of radiotherapy treatment. Read my post about what he said, and how bleeding can be a serious side effect.
2 Weeks Break After Radiotherapy Treatments
After the radiotherapy treatments, I was supposed to have 2 weeks break. The idea is to get some rest. 🛌
This is for my body to have time to handle the radiation. More importantly, for my body to heal.
But, as the appointments system would have, the stoma team arranged for me to meet up with them the day after the last radiotherapy treatment. It was to get an update on my stoma situation, and to see how is my stoma?
I supposed my situation is unique (and yet maybe similar to some). Most cancer patients would have cancer to deal with. For me, I have the stoma to manage, too.
So, there I was, after 8 consecutive days of radiotherapy treatments. And the following morning I had to go meet the stoma nurse for an update.
I was truly tired and exhausted. 😫
On the one hand, I wished they waited a day or two before arranging this session. On the other hand, I was glad to get it over and done with so that I can really start taking a break.
To really get some rest.
So, I bit the bullet, and went for the stoma update appointment. I told myself that I can have the full 2 weeks of rest after that.
A New Beginning
During the 2 weeks of rest, I finally had time to reflect on all that has happened. And one thing I realized quickly was that when this entire event happened, I suddenly lost a source of income.
I am a part time teacher. With all that was happening, I was unable to continue teaching.
No teaching, no income.
That is the awful truth of being a part time teacher. If I had worked for a school full time, I could still get paid during this medical emergency.
Thankfully, I had a few alternate sources of income. One particular lucrative one is affiliate marketing.
While I went through the surgery, hospital stay, spending entire days on medical appointments, and resting at home, my affiliate marketing business continued to generate sales and income for me.
And, I am eternally grateful for that.
With the affiliate marketing business generating some income, I was able to have peace of mind, and fully focus on healing from cancer.
If you like to learn more about affiliate marketing, and how to create a side income, click on the image below to learn more about it. (coming soon)
The continued income from affiliate marketing opened my eyes to the need to have an alternate income when one source of income discontinued due to emergencies like this.
It could happen also due to economic downturn, and people suddenly lose their jobs, whether full time or part time.
As such, as I reflected on this event in my life, I decided to relook at my business strategies, and set in motion a new direction.
A new beginning.
While healing from cancer, whenever I feel strong and better, I would spend my time building more sources of income. Particularly, I would focus on creating and strengthening my affiliate marketing business.
To watch my progress, or to understand or learn more about my new direction with affiliate marketing, you can check out the Affiliate Marketing section on my website.
The Chemotherapy Sessions
After the 2 weeks of rest from the radiotherapy sessions, the chemotherapy sessions begin.
I was to have 6 cycles of chemotherapy. Each cycle lasts 3 weeks.
And during the 1st cycle, I faced a problem.
Chemotherapy Cycle #1 of 6
Before taking the chemotherapy session, every patient would have their blood tested. This was to ensure that the body is all right to receive the treatment.
On 21 June 2021, I had a consultation with the oncologist at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, Changi General Hospital. Before meeting the oncologist, I had a blood test.
And the results were not good.
When I met the oncologist, she informed me that my red blood cell count is slightly lower than the acceptable level. The acceptable level was 8.0, and mine was at 7.4.
As such, I needed a blood transfusion to help increase the red blood cell count.
Blood Transfusion to Increase Red Blood Cells
Immediately, the nurse took action, and booked bed for me to have the blood transfusion. They also quickly checked my blood further for any possible complications as well as secured a bag of blood that matched mine.
It all happened very quickly. By that afternoon, I was already at the short stay unit, assigned a bed, and received blood transfusion.
The procedure required at least 8 hours. As I started at 1.30 pm, it ended late at night at 9.30 pm.
It had been another tiring and exhausting day.
After that day, I had one day rest. And then on 23 June 2022, I went to the National Cancer Centre Singapore again.
Fortunately, the blood test showed this time to be all right. And I had my first chemotherapy injection.
First Chemotherapy Injection
At the chemotherapy clinic, I walked further into an inner area. In that area, there were about six chemotherapy stations.
Each station had a bed, and machines for the chemotherapy injection. I was assigned Bed Number 1.
The nurses were very helpful. I got on the bed, and immediately a nurse came to attend to me.
She gave me information about the chemotherapy medicine in the injection. I asked her how long would the session take?
She said the injection would take 2 hours. Then there was to be another 2 hours of observation, to make sure I would be all right.
She asked me if I would like to relieve myself. Especially since the entire session would take around 4 hours.
I did not feel the need to relieve myself at that point, and asked if I could do it midway during the injection. She said I could, but every second would delay the time for the injection to complete. This was because they had to pause the injection.
She also pointed out that I had to bring along the chemotherapy machine into the rest room. Just then, the opposite bed had to go to the restroom. And she nodded towards that bed, and told me that was how it would be.
I saw the patient of the opposite bed dragging along the chemotherapy machine. It would be an inconvenience. But, no choice. I just did not feel the need to relieve myself.
After an hour or so, I started to feel the need to relieve myself. So, I asked the nurse for help to do that. And yes, it was rather inconvenient. But, what to do?
Things To Watch Out For
During the injection, another nurse came along to discuss side effects of the chemotherapy as well as what are the things to watch out for. She gave me a booklet that had very good information about chemotherapy, and the side effects. Also, what to do should I suffer any of the side effects.
I am happy to report that during the first two weeks of taking the chemotherapy pills, I did not have most of the side effects. Just a few, and mild ones.
One was exhaustion. Another was tingling sensations at my feet and fingers.
No Cold Foods or Drinks
She also cautioned me about food and drinks to consume. Due to the chemotherapy medicine, they have found that when patients consume any cold food or drinks, they could suffer the throat constricting. This was dangerous as it could result in choking or worse, breathing problems.
So, no cold foods or drinks. And I was so disappointed. I had wanted to reward myself when I did well for the chemotherapy with the nice cold dessert at Koufu, a local food court. But it looked like this would not be possible.
Also, I would miss all the cold refreshing drinks like a cup of iced Yuzu or coconut water. A drink that would be so refreshing on a hot day.
No Raw or Uncooked Foods or Foods Left in the Open for Hours
The nurse also cautioned against raw or uncooked foods. This included foods left in the open for hours.
So, this means foods like chicken rice, or cai png (local rice with dishes) would not be good for me to eat.
The main reason is that bacteria and germs can be plenty on these foods. And during chemotherapy, the immunity system could be compromised. As such, such foods can cause infections that would be a problem during this healing process.
This really narrowed down my choices of meals to have.
Two Weeks of Chemotherapy Pills
After the injection, I took chemotherapy pills every day for 2 weeks. After breakfast, I would take 3 of the chemotherapy pills. Then, after dinner, I would take 4 of the chemotherapy pills.
I had heard from friends and nurses about the side effects that a patient could get from these chemotherapy pills. Thankfully, I did not suffer any major side effect. Just a few minor ones.
I had tingling sensation at the tip of my fingers, and at my feet. There was some numbness at the feet area. This explained part of the reason why I fell that time when I went to buy breakfast.
I realized now that the numbness made walking a major feat for my body. My body had to learn to balance itself despite the numb feeling. This was because the numb feeling made it harder for my feet to feel the ground, and for my body to understand how to balance and walk.
The other side effects I suffered were exhaustion and insomnia. For exhaustion, I just needed to get plenty of rest. For insomnia, I observed how it happened, when it happened, and learned how to deal with it.
I Fell! And Concern About Infection
Speaking of infections, one of the things to watch out for was any cuts or bruises. The nurse said these could lead to infections, too.
And I did fall. On the first week of taking the chemotherapy pills, I had hoped for a quiet time to heal and recover.
But, when I went to buy breakfast one morning, I tripped and fell. It was terrible!
As I fell, I could feel such a shock. And then when I tried to get up, I could not do so.
Eventually, I saw someone walked past me, and I called out for help. Thankfully, the person was a kind soul, and he helped me get back up on my feet.
I stood up against a wall to get back my senses. And also, to have proper balance. Then, I slowly walked home with some groceries and breakfast that I bought.
A Moment of Anger and Frustration
On one of the nights during the two weeks of taking chemotherapy pills, I woke up at 11 pm, as usual, to pee and release mucus discharge from the rectal area.
I don’t know if it was the weeks of this repeated activity, or simply just exhaustion to the point of total frustration. But I got really angry.
And I was angry at the situation I was in. I was angry at God. I was angry at the Universe. I was angry at my guardian angel. I was angry at everything.
I was cursing and swearing at God, the Universe, my guardian angel, and all spiritual forces. I asked them what have I done to deserve this??
I had been good. I had not done anything bad.
I had been thinking positive thoughts. And manifesting positive outcomes.
This was definitely not a positive outcome.
So, there I was. Late at night. Shouting at all divine beings, energies and forces.
Of course, no answer came.
I was at the point of giving up, and no longer wishing to engage with the divine beings, energies and forces. I was thinking what was the point if God, the Universe and my guardian angel were all not listening to me?
Eventually, this outburst tired me out. And I had a bit of a good sleep after that.
Today, I am back on track. I am no longer angry.
I am back thinking positive. And praying for a better outcome. That the cancer in me is gone for good. And I can have the stoma remove.
Eventually, to have as normal a life again as possible in the near future.
Last Day of Taking Chemotherapy Pills for 1st Cycle
I have finally reached the last day of taking the chemotherapy pills. And I am happy to report that I did not have to suffer any major side effects.
Just a few minor ones like tingling at the finger tips and toes, loss of appetite earlier on (but now appetite is good), and tiredness. For some reason, taking the pills does make my body tired.
A Week of Rest
After the two weeks of taking chemotherapy pills, it would be a week of rest. This is for the body to recover.
Or, so I was told.
In the end, these medical teams take the time during the two weeks to arrange for follow up medical appointments. So, one day I would meet the oncologist at National Cancer Center Singapore at Changi General Hospital. And another day I would be meeting the oncologist at Singapore General Hospital.
Appointments are not restful. There is the time to travel to and from home to the venues. And then, there was the uncomfortable wait time at the waiting area, sitting on uncomfortable seat.
And these appointments would take at least half a day.
So, so much for giving the patient time to rest.
This was something I did not appreciate of the medical team and the entire process.
Following that week of supposed rest, the next cycle would begin.
My healing from cancer journey will continue. I will keep blogging about it until I complete it. And more importantly, heal from cancer.
Do stay tuned by coming back here for updates.
Meantime, stay healthy.