• denise tam

The Cancer Journey : Up Down and Around

Reposted from denisetam.webs.com October 29, 2012 I absolutely love roller coasters. I love the feeling of fear mixed with excitement. I love the anticipation as you sit strapped in your seat listening to the machine below clicking and working to inch you closer to a drop that is just moments away. Then comes the drop, loops and backward spirals while the wind, screams and jolts follow along until your back on level tracks.  My road to recovery is very much like these roller coasters, the first few rides are tough and all you can do is close your eyes and scream your way until the end. The times after get easier, you know when the dips and drops come and you can prepare yourself for it, but your stomach will churn no matter what.


My rollercoaster to recovery each month begins with intense fatigue that shuts down my body for two to three days, switching to hibernation mode- no food, hardly any liquid, little interaction with the living, just sleep! After sleeping for an average of 15 hrs a night plus naps during the day the tiredness begins to wear off after day 3 and I try to eat some foods though nausea remains. Bread and fruits were all I ate at the beginning. I would have dreams of pizza and French baguettes while kiwis and oranges would offer my body the liquid it needed to keep going in a more tolerable way than water. When my appetite returns to normal (typically after one week or less) I feast on everything (including some meats) - noodles, rice, veggies and of course my trusted friend- bread! This is usually when I regain more strength and begin to step outside of my walls in Happy Valley and see more faces.

The third week which was last week is one of my stronger periods though my immunity is at its weakest. After day 14 the WBC (white blood cells/count) drop and I become an easy target for infections. Last week I was also sent to do a MRI instead of a PET-CT. According to my doctor one PET scan is equivalent to one year’s worth of X-rays taken every day. I've had 5 PET scans, 2 CT scans and countless number of X-rays all just in three years. I think it's fair to say that I'm well over my limit of radiation! My poor liver! I am however impressed that Professor Kwong took the time to look into my history and make the caring and wise decision to send me to do a MRI scan. It's rare doctors would think about such things and so his doing so gave me hope that he isn't as strict and heartless as how he portrays himself to be.


Thursday was results day. Results for the MRI as well as my blood work. I needed the MRI to show great improvement from my August PET scan in order for us to continue with Bedamustine and I needed my WBC to be in safe ranges and my Neutrophils to be above 1 so I could avoid the expensive injection that also gave me several days of bone pain in my lower back and pelvis. I'm happy to say that my body has done a good job and both MRI and blood work came back with good results.


The MRI shows that the tumors have shrunk significantly from my August scan.There are small ones scattered in my neck, thorax and groin area and the larger ones are in the abdomen with the largest one measuring 3.7cm. Blood work reveals healthy levels of white blood and red blood cells. My Neutrophils are also insafe ranges. All this means that I can continue with Bendamustine and Rituximab (the antibody). Next treatment will be this coming Friday for the usual three days (Nov 2-4).

This last week is when I work hard to prepare myself for the next battle. I try to eat more, take more supplements and just keep my body strong both physically and mentally. I also treasure this last week the most knowing it will be a while until I can cruise again on smooth and level tracks.


P.S. We had a surprise party for Wen Ying on Saturday to celebrate her 24th birthday!


She has been experiencing more pain in her legs and back and doctors believe it is time for her surgery. She has completed her chemo and has a small procedure to do on Nov 1 where they will somehow freeze or stop one of the veins close to the tumor in her spine so that she doesn't lose so much blood during the surgery.

With the help of many brothers and sisters, she has also been able to leave the hospital the past two Sundays to attend church. It's been a tremendous to see how everyone comes together to shower her with love.


Thanks for keeping us both in your thoughts and prayers <3

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