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Parents , Yvonne's Blog

Feature: Mummy Serene

Article Title

Very happy for Mummy Goh!

Mummy Serene is a fellow cancer warrior and survivor who's been through a lot! I'm so happy she's an optimistic mummy who take on every challenge in life with fighter spirit! 

 

ℕ𝕠𝕨, 𝕝𝕖𝕥’𝕤 𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕕 𝕙𝕖𝕣 𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕪!

 

Things escalated very quickly after showing my biopsy report to the doctors at the General Surgery Dept at TTSH. The doctors were also informed about my wedding in a month’s time and we had plans for our honeymoon. I received two appointments from the same department and I just went for both thinking it must have served different purposes.

My oncologist, Dr Chopra called me before the appointment to discuss about my condition. He told me that he ordered a CT scan for me prior to the meeting as he needed to know the staging of my cancer. He said it was most likely to be stage 2 but had to be confirmed with the scan. 

The “mistake”

I proceeded to meet the second doctor on the given appointment date. The doctor told me I needed a bone marrow biopsy as my cancer could be related to blood. He also told me that he will be ordering a CT scan for me. That got me puzzled and I told him that another doctor had already ordered that for me. It was then that he found out that I had been speaking to Dr Chopra. He told me to choose one of them to be my doctor as both are in the same field but he specialised in blood. I decided to stick with Dr chopra because I was afraid of the bone marrow biopsy! It’s funny how the hospital made mistakes like this. 

First doctor’s appointment

I went to see Dr Chopra for the first time with Jack and my eldest brother. He told me that it was stage 3 and that I should start treatment as soon as possible. He knew about our wedding plans and planned my first treatment two weeks before my wedding and second treatment the day before my wedding. I had to go through 12 sessions of chemotherapy in 6 months. The first question I asked was about my hair. He said that his patients usually experienced hair loss after their second treatment. I started crying after hearing that. Am I going to be a bald bride?? (It’s so funny how I am more worried about my looks rather than my health.)

Dr Chopra also advised us to freeze my eggs if we wanted children in the future. However, that would mean more pain and treatment would be delayed. He said that the chemo medication will affect fertility but percentage is not high. Jack and I prayed and discussed about it and eventually decided not to do it. We trusted that God will bless if it’s in His will.

My First chemotherapy 

Jack was with me during my first treatment. I went through the routine of blood tests, waiting and then treatment. The treatment room was very cold. I guess that temperature was needed for the medicine. I had to take 4 different types of medication for each visit through IV drip. But first, I needed the anti vomiting medicine through IV and orally. I usually get drowsy after that. The first treatment went really well. There was no pain and no discomfort. My eldest brother came by to see me too. 

Our BIG Day

We got married two weeks after my first treatment. We held a simple church wedding followed by a reception. We booked a staycation at The Fullerton. Oh, did I mention that we cancelled our honeymoon plans due to the treatment? The silly me requested to bun my hair up as I was really afraid that my hair might fall during the wedding.

Can you tell I was undergoing treatment then? 

The treatment continues…

My doctor decided to push back my second treatment as he was concerned about my immunity so I was back to hospital two days after my wedding. I went to chop my hair off after the second treatment with the anticipation of hair loss.

Second treatment. It was really cold….. 
My new short hair style…

I moved in with Jack at the start of my treatment so that it’s easier for him to take care of me together with his family. I was renting a room with my best buddy prior to that. Jack and his family took great care of me during the whole treatment period making sure I eat and rest well. 

The “Scary” moment

I cannot remember exactly when it happened. I was washing my hair one fine day and shocked to see my two hands filled with my hair. I went straight into my room after shower and cried. Jack came in after a while to check on me and saw me sobbing on our bed. I told him what happened and we agreed it was time for me to shave. We both agreed that it was better for me to shave than to go through this horror everyday. My friend recommended a hair salon as the owner was a cancer survivor too. I sent her a text and we went to her salon the very next day. Jack tried to prepare me by telling me that some NS recruits cried after they shaved. Thank God the whole process went really well as the salon owner tried to distract me by sharing her cancer story and it worked really well. 

The botak me.. Ok lah.. my head quite round, right? haha

The painful moment

I went through a few sessions of chemotherapy and I felt worse after each session. There was always a two week break in between each session. It was like roller coaster ride each time as I would feel weak during the first week and slowly pick up strength on the second week only to go for another session again. The other thing was that my veins started shrinking after each session, and it got extremely painful during one session as the medicine got pumped in. It was so painful that I had to ask the nurse to stop the machine. They tried applying hot pad on the IV area but it was useless. The nurse tried to slow down the flow of the medicine but it was still painful. She told me that there was no other alternative but to bear with the pain. I was crying and I did not know what to do except to pray. Strangely, I fell asleep and I dreamt of Jesus holding me like a baby in His arms and there was no pain. The nurse then suggested to go for a minor surgery to insert a permanent IV line or a port (insert under the skin for needles to poke through). However, there will be higher risk of infection for me as I was already about halfway through my treatment and my immunity is low. 

God sent me an angel

We prayed about it and decided not to do it for the fear of infection. I went for my next chemotherapy two weeks later. I told the nurse who was attending to me what happened during the last session. I was surprised she did not know about that incident as there were only a few handful of nurses working in the treatment room. She told me she was on leave during that period. She suggested using the bigger veins at my elbow area to see if it helps. She was an angel sent from God as her suggestion worked really well! There was not as much pain for the rest of my chemotherapy sessions. 

My final CT scan

I had one last CT scan after completing the full chemotherapy cycle. Dr Chopra was not free to see me that day and I was attended to by a junior doctor. The doctor told me that there seems to be some ‘residual’ cancer cells on my chest and recommended radiotherapy. I requested to see Dr Chopra to get his opinion. We waited a long time to see him. He read my report and said the ‘residual’ seen on the scan might be the muscle tissue that was torn due to the tumor. He suggested monitoring instead of radiotherapy. However, he would need to discuss with the team of doctors before coming to a conclusion. I was sent home to wait for the decision. He called a few days later and said the team of doctors agreed to his suggestion to monitor the ‘residual’. And with that, my cancer was considered cured. I have since passed the five years mark now fully discharged!

My two cents thoughts

I just want to share some of my thoughts about showing care for people around you who are dealing with cancer.

  • Do talk to them about the illness and how they feel
  • Do cook for them if they are alone (Make sure all food are prepared fresh)
  • Do call/text them regularly just to check on them
  • Do tell them to follow what the doctor says with regards to diet or medications
  • Don’t tell them what to eat/avoid unless they ask ( I find this the most important for me as I was so confused at that time with many people advising me on what to try and avoid)
  • Don’t tell them everything is going to be okay (How do you know?)
  • Don’t ask them to stop thinking about it (How can they stop??)
  • Don’t forcefully visit them if they don’t feel like it (some days it just feels like shit)
  • Don’t visit when you are sick