Friday, December 05, 2008

Dad Doesn't Know?

"Dad still doesn't know he has cancer?" Elder Sis asked me tonight.

Yes, it is true. Dad must have known he has some form of cancer... after all, we were at the National Cancer Centre this morning.

The whole building states that, and there were many patients in there passing by us while we made our way from one place to another... ladies with scarfs or hats concealing their heads while bald men, both young and old were with faint traces of eyebrows seated amongst us.

Yes, I think he got the good enough hint that he has cancer.

Then again, he recognized the place. He was there once before.

Clinic C where we were waiting for consultation was beside Clinic D. That was where Dad waited while I went in with Mom to help her dress-up in a hospital gown readied for her MRI on her spine.

"That was where Mom got the noisy X-ray to check her back, remember?" I asked Dad.

He nodded, "I slept at the waiting area," looking into blind space and paused a while, "I remember."

"They use this place for all kinds of X-ray procedures," I lied to Dad again... "the reason we're here. The same thing they want to do to you for the growth in your lung..."

Dad nodded again... "To shrink it." He completed my sentence.

While seated in front of Consultation Room 7, Dad started telling me about his road trip to Kedah, Malaysia to attend a distant relative's wedding and toured his favourite state of our neighbor's, Malacca.

Across the long hall, I saw patients as young as 7 waiting for their turn. Their unfortunate stories of pain... I looked at Dad as he talked about the heavy rain, lost their way for over an hour searching for the house once they reached the village...

10 minutes later Dad's queue number 1115 flashed above Dr. Lo Soo Kien's door.

A lady Oncology Specialist in her 40's seated and greeted my Dad with a cheery smile and voice. Trying very much to converse whatever Malay words she knew to make Dad feel at ease. It really made Dad smiled in appreciation on her effort to talk to him in our native language.

"I'll talk in English to your son... and he'll tell you, yes?" Dr. Loo told Dad in much difficulty.

I told Dad that I would translate it to him... our usual routine. Dad nodded with a smile.

"Does your father know what he is having?" Dr. Lo, a cancer specialist from UK asked me.

Like the two specialists before her, I told her that Dad knows of the growth, but never the dreaded "C" word mentioned in either his or Mom's presence. All in the good intent for his focus to getting better instead of worrying on the negatives.

From then onward she replaced "cancer" with "the C word" every time it appeared in her sentences during the course of the consultation.

Since it was our first visit to the centre, with all the medical records Dad had accumulated over the years with SGH, she browsed through again together with the last CT scans and reports done last month, she gave the hard facts about patients with cancer and what to expect in the near future.

She also explained the expensive drugs that will be used and what to expect from this treatment.

The lady officer at the Registration Counter was the most pleasant human being Wifey and I had ever encountered personally.

Continuing after the doctor; also relating through similar experience, she explained the long term costs that we will be faced with and ways to manage these costs across all the siblings once Dad's own MediSave money gets depleted.

Dad will have to go through another CT Scan and blood test next Friday, 12 December 2008 at 4:00PM. Only then will Dr. Lo administers the proper treatment protocol.

The normal chemo Dad will most likely be getting is by oral pills. 2 times a day for two weeks while stopping it for the third week. The cycle then repeats for the next 3 to 6 months.

The cost of medications for each cycle will be expensive, ranging from several hundred dollars to beyond 3 thousand dollars. Something Dr. Lo advised that I should consult my siblings on the long term expenses.

With this treatment, Dad has a survival rate of 20 months to beyond 24 months, but only 8 to 12 months if left untreated. The choice was obvious to me, Dad must have the treatment but I have to discuss it with the rest of my brothers and sisters.

On the low-end of this treatment, 60% of patients will respond positively to this treatment while the other 40% will not. The tumors in Dad's lungs will shrink or at worst remain the same if he is in the 60% group.

Else a higher dosage or more aggressive treatments, or even the combination with radiation may been needed. This, she said will have to be discussed and a tough decision to be made by the family whether to go ahead as the remaining quality of Dad's life will be affected.

All that will be decided once the CT Scan and blood test results are out and we to meet her again a week after, on Friday, 19 December 2008 at 10:45AM.

Another important necessity the officer pointed out was that both Dad and Mom should have an administrator for their monies in their MediSave accounts.

They will need to appoint a beneficiary to perform administrative job should one or the other were to pass on. The money from one account can then be taken out and topped-up to the other surviving spouse.

I discussed with my second eldest brother together with both my parents. They agreed that I should be the one. A task when the unfortunate happened.

We left NCC after making an appointment for Dad's CT Scan and blood test, then after taken Dad's month's supply of cough medications to relief the symptom for him to get a proper night's sleep.

We went to CPF Building in Robinson Road and did the nomination by both parents.

A big feast in the form of a late lunch at Hajah Maimunah Restaurant in Pisang Road took place at about 3:00PM. Dad ordered lots of old Malay Kampong dishes which were totally scrumptous... finger-licking good, scrumptious!

My Brother sent both parents home while Wiefy and I met Sonny at Singapore Expo's John Little mega-sale for fresh sets of wardrobe. Wifey got her sandals, while both Sonny and I got our socks, underwear and cool T-shirts which were all at bargain cost prices.

A nice Tom Yum seafood noodle dinner soon ensued and we left home for the day.

A nice long weekend for Singapore as Monday, 8 December 2008; a public holiday to celebrate Hari Raya EidulAdha for the Muslim faith here.

A mixed reaction for the whole family when we pay a visit and congregate at our parents' home during the holy day.

For now, we have them both. They are with us to love and be loved...


  1. My mother had cancer too.... just take it a day at a time and love them ..... I m sure you do that already so just hope all goes well

  2. The family I'm living with now (and have been since last March) as I await for my number on the county housing list..well on tuesday night they got a call that their son had been killed in Africa on a head on car collision. He was a missionary with his wife and their 3 small children. He had been there for almost 2 years and was delivering food to the poor. He knew it was dangerous to go and live in Africa and to do what he did but he had made that decision it was his "calling". Luckily the family here had taken a very difficult trip to Africa to visit and see them last July for 5 weeks..I looked after the house during that time for them and took care of everything for them here.

    The roads there in Malawi, Africa are horrific and where they lived they had to have security guards stand through the night at the front gate (with huge brick walls so people could not get in)in the secure community village. Their son gave of his life in order to help thousands of poor people in need..he learned their language and they all loved him dearly there. He had called here from Africa on thanksgiving night and told his mother that he felt so blessed to have fullfilled his dream to go live in Africa and minister and help the starving people there with barely anything to live and survive on. His wife is just devastated and had to go and identify his body there. When the family got the call here of his death and how he was killed I was right there watching the mother on the phone crumble and scream and cry and then her other son here began to break down and so during all this time I have done all I can to give hugs as they cry and listen as they talk about him and their memories..they have cried on my shoulders as I held many people and friends have dropped by and been here for this family every single day..I've lost count of all the people that have come here with food and support and all. Practically the whole town knows them all and especially loved this son who was just filled with life and love for people everywhere.

    I'm cleaning up and serving people that arrive and trying to keep the house up and help out the best I can here. Part of me wants to share with them how very lucky they are that they have so much family all here for one another and all these friends here for them also..they are so blessed to have this! But they are grieving and I would not think of saying anything.

    It's odd how since they've gotten to know me and now this I heard them say to their friends the other night when they didn't know that I had heard "if something had happened to Rhi (Barbara)and things have happened to her all these years no one has been there for her or to help her out it's made us realize how very blessed and lucky we are that we have not had to be alone through all this and we always have the help and support we need when we need it". I remember being in the kitchen cleaning up the dishes from the visitors when I heard them say this and I stopped and then cried a bit. It's so strange how we all can learn so much in times of trouble and pain from one another.

    They have been here for me so I wouldn't be living on the streets or in my car..and I am here for them now. It's all so's not easy for me as I tire so easily and overdue but I know I must be here for them and listen and support and do whatever I could I not?

    Life is short my friend..their son was only 36 years old..he did not suffer he died immediately upon the impact. They are coming home in about two weeks on a jet with his body in a casket and the funeral will be here in this town and then he will be buried at the family cemetary. I'm trying to help all I can and yet try to take care of my health and myself's not easy..

    Wish a healing for this family..thank you..

    Life is never know..I hope this did not depress you..

    Love and Blessings,


  3. Thanks for visiting.
    It sounds like your father has a loving family to surround him with during this time of cancer treatment. That is so wonderful.
    All your food and shopping sound great.. a typical day I remember from our years in Singapore.
    Singaporeans love eating and shopping, don't you agree?!!
    I had to have surgery for possible reoccurance of my thyroid cancer while we were in Singapore; the surgery was done but that time not cancer as before! Medical treatment is wonderful there. My best to you and your family and your dad.
    Hoping and praying for the best.

  4. Hi Imran I will write more as I need to go off and do some things but want the time to talk to you and encourage... I am a cancer survivor so I can tell you that there is so much today that can be done even better than when I was in treatment...Heavy stuff.. Big Guns..Just make everyone comfortable and remain upbeat the other stuff is not important it's quality of life not quanity Nobody has tomarrow.. God willing we will have today and that is plenty of care for the moment to deal with.. Love to all..

  5. These are tough times for all of you, with decisions to be made that aren't easy. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  6. It's painful to read this and see what you're going through. They are lucky to have you as a strong person. I think your Dad knows that.

  7. Hello Muhd...sometime you can tell me how you prefer to be addressed and how to correctly say your name, OK? I thank you for your kind words on my last post. You are a kindly person, and I am keeping you and your family in my highest and best blessings and thoughts for the greatest outcome for all. Miracles are always happening. Love is the greatest healer. I want you to know also that your words are very eloquent and you seem to me to have an enormous grasp of the English language and express yourself very well and with intelligence and emotions. I say to you, value every day and keep us posted because we out here care how you are.
    p.s. I fed your hamster ;oD

  8. You and your siblings have some hard decisions to make, and especially you since it seems you've elected to handle most of your parents' affairs.

    All you can do is take it one day at a time and just show your Dad how much you love him.

    Hope you have a good holiday weekend, Muhd.

    Love and hugs,


  9. Hello Imran.
    I came here through Rhi's Blog. I find a good person in you. A good person with amazing strength.

    I understand that you and ur family are going through a harrowing time. But i also see that you have determination and will to see this through to the finish line. I'm awed. I offer my heartfelt condolences to you and ur family. I do hope ur father finds himself in the positive 60percent of patients who respond well to the therapy.
    My wishes are always with your family.
    God be with you.
    I'm Blogrolling you.
    Do visit my Blog sometimes.
    i'm a amateur poet in India.

  10. Imran, I have just read your post and the comments from your blog friends all over the world. I see evidence of powerful love in your description of your family dealing with your father's illness. I see more extravagant love in the responses of your online friends. I add my love and wish comfort and peace to your family.

  11. Hello Everyone.

    Thank you for your kind and warm messages.

    I am speechless and appreciative of the encouragements and prayers you are giving to someone like me that is so far away across the globe.

    Wifey and I would really like to thank all of you all from the bottom of our hearts.

    May The Almighty bless you all for being kind and beautiful people that you are.

  12. I am more than sure that whatever decision you and your siblings come to, it will be out of love...


Hello Everyone,

Thank you for stopping by and leaving me your messages. I will also try to answer any questions you may have for me.

Thanks again and have a good day.

Muhd Imran
PAL Blogger