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...