Anxious about Hospitalisations

Been hoping that I could leave my hospitalisation days behind, but recently had to be hospitalised again for a blood transfusion. Chemo attacks dividing cells and that includes red blood cells.

Was very reluctant and dejected about going in, as I was traumatised by the previous experience of one day of hospitalisation stretching to almost 2 weeks. Felt so claustrophobic and hated that loss of control.

This time though, I’m so relieved that it wasn’t so bad, apart from severe bloating from all the IVs. I immediately put on 2kgs just from the excess fluids, but definitely not as awful as the 9kgs from the last hospital stay.

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Been Reading Inspirational Blogs

Been reading inspirational blogs by women going through the cancer journey, surgery chemo and the whole works. I admire them so much and often their heartfelt posts make me tear. Just want to reach out and have some kind of magic to take away any pain or anxiety they may have.

When I read that they are going through surgery soon I pray that it will go fast and smooth and they get out of hospital soon. To me being hospitalized for almost two weeks was a nightmare as I felt so claustrophobic, controlled and confined by rules, and in ‘jail’. Hopefully the care where they are is much better.

These lovely ladies are a gazillion times braver and stronger than me and some of their journeys are much tougher, with late stage cancer and mastectomies, but they manage to uplift other people through their writing. If you’re a cancer blogger and reading this ….thank you. I know how hard it is to concentrate and upkeep a blog when you’re having fatigue and poor concentration.

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Sydney Trip (Blue Mountains): The Greens of Leura

The Greens of Leura is one of the most fairytale like places we’ve stayed with a canopy bed and the most beautiful lounge area with the best teas and biscuits. There was also Sherry and it was so cosy you never felt like leaving to explore. But the beautiful outdoors did beckon and it was nice to walk in the cold misty air.

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The surrounding beauty of the garden.

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The cosy porch.

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The pretty lounge area.

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You could help yourself to tea, coffee cookies and other drinks.

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Daily freshly prepared breakfast by the friendly owners and hosts.

Freshly squeezed orange juice.

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I miss their light fluffy croissants and jams.

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My sister loved the homemade Banana bread and eggs Benedict.

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Have fond memories of this trip and the place and feel lucky to have visited.bit was my favourite part of the Sydney Trip as I do love cool weather and nature.

So picturesque I took tons of photos. Even their calling card is pretty.

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Hard to Concentrate

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It’s been so hard to concentrate. I bring a book to my chemo sessions and so far after 8 sessions I haven’t read a single word. Somehow the brain fog is even worse during the session. It feels like a computer crash but this time it’s my brain that’s overloaded. I’m unable to respond to people talking to me or answer texts coherently. It feels like too much of an effort.

That’s why I feel so happy and satisfied that I finally finished reading a book I got in February. Been meaning to read more so that at least the brain gets some exercise and also for the escapism and knowledge.

I want to read more books by Julian Barnes now. It was a good read.

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Clueless Before Cancer

1. I had no idea that it was the chemo that caused side effects like loosing your hair. I actually thought it was the cancer itself that caused hair loss. Now I feel silly.

2. I was afraid of Chemotherapy as movies from the 90’s had given this image of cancer patients suffering, being frail, skeletal and constantly throwing up. But in my case or perhaps due to advances in research since then, we have anti allergy drugs and steroids to boost you so you actually look surprisingly good on the outside. And you even gain weight from the steroids making you famished.

3. I’m still afraid of radiation as I have no clue about it and perhaps would rather not know the scary bits before I start.

4. I had no idea that when the hair started falling my scalp would be so sensitive and hurt as if the roots were being attacked.

5. I thought that being in remission meant you’re free of cancer, and I had no real idea about recurrence and the need to be vigilant with blood tests and scans after. So you’re never quite done with it.

6. That I would actually be grateful that I had a port inserted into my chest so that I wouldn’t have to be stuck in the arms with needles and that excruciating pain as my veins are too fine and the chemo drugs are toxic causing them to collapse and all those resulting bruises that take weeks or months months to fade.

7. Never knew that one person could have two totally unrelated cancers at the same time.

8. Had no clue how alone this would make you feel until you met other women online who decided to share their journey.

9. That you would be able to handle what has been thrown at you. You the scaredy cat your whole life.

10. That the cancer could actually be a blessing stripping down life and showing you with clarity what is truly important.

11. That the gene test taken by Angelina Jolie would be relevant to you.

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Phantom Pony Tail & Other Things After Chemo

I tend to keep my hair tied up, off my neck, because of the sweltering heat in Singapore. But now after chemo and without hair I still tend to forget, & my hands reach back to retire my pony tail and then I remember. I actually feel my pony tail and phantom hair that I used to have. It’s not anything sad. Actually it’s rather nice to have that lightness of no hair especially with the weather. I might feel different if I lived in a cold country where hair keeps you warm.

This whole experience teaches me that beyond our vanities hair has a biological function. I have zero nose hairs now so tend to be sensitive to dust. Without eyelashes my eyes too feel sensitive and dryer. Hair protects us, even the unwanted hair that we remove. Arms tend to feel colder in very low temperatures, without those fine hairs.

But I sure am happy that bath time is such a cinch now without the shampooing conditioning and shaving that was the previous routine. I can be done in less than 10 minutes. And I still think it’s sexist that the pressure is on women to remove unwanted hair and not men, perpetuated by the media.

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Sydney Trip: Magical Luera

The train journey was worth it once we reached the magical misty charming town of Luera. I think one of the loveliest places in the Blue Mountains and Australia. We experienced the full beauty of nature and small town charm here.

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What Bothers Me the Most About Loosing My Hair

What bothers me most is not what I imagined in the beginning. Before the chemo and corresponding hair loss started. Of course it was devastating to see my long locks of hair falling out in clumps. Almost a whole ponytail fell out during one shampoo session, two weeks into chemo.

But the worst thing is having to cover up with wigs and scarves because society expects you to. Like you have something to be ashamed of.

Or because seeing your bald head makes people uncomfortable.

It upsets me.

There are more important things to deal with and I don’t think cancer is something I should be ashamed of or try to hide. I’m secretly proud that I am ok with my baldness. That my features can stand on their own even without hair. That I don’t look totally hideous like I imagined I would.

I’m starting to loose a lot of my eyebrows and eyelashes too, and that I’m not too keen on but we’ll see how it goes. Time helps you get used to and embrace situations you never thought you would embrace.

I’m grateful for the hairs that still cling on as weird as that may sound. Those are the strong ones defying the toxic chemicals. Hope the cancer cells are eradicated though and not resilient like those few remaining eyelashes.

The one who has embraced my new look the most is my 3 year old Niece. She even decided one day to touch my hair out of curiosity and with the sweetest smile said it was “nice”. That’s the best compliment I’ve gotten in years. I’m still me to the little ones in my life and that’s just so affirming and such a mental boost. And children say it like it is without any filter.

Recently I went wig shopping as I have to attend a wedding and I don’t want to draw attention away from the bride. People in my society tend to stare due to ignorance. But in the end the whole experience was unpleasant and my partner felt the wigs were just not me. They were super expensive to boot at $500 for a synthetic one and $1000 for one with real human hair. I’d rather the money go towards a recliner which I really need much more due to back issues, and a big ticket item that can last me for a decade at least. Also the owners selling the wigs were pushing me to buy one immediately and were not too happy when I needed some time to think about it.

My Friend E boosted my confidence by saying she loved my scarf look best and felt that even with hair I should use scarves. My Aunty C and Uncle A always tell me I look good. But they are my relatives and are always very sweet to me.

Sometimes I wish I lived in Australia where there is huge support from the Cancer Council. Also people in general are more aware of cancer. I too was ignorant before this journey so I hope to spread the message of what it’s really like and how we feel. If you’re out there and see someone with hair loss or a scarf just smile in their direction. A guy manning a coffee stall at a hawker centre here in Singapore smiled at me after everyone else was staring and it made a huge difference.

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Inspiring Women with Cancer who Share their Journey

I am so thankful to the bloggers I’ve recently discovered through the WordPress app, who share their journey through chemotherapy, surgeries, scans and all the things that go into tackling cancer. They make me feel not so alone because no one else will really truly know what you’re going through apart from these chemo sisters. Before I had cancer I had no clue either. So much I’ve learnt since then which I feel compelled to share. And I’ll be adding to this list as I discover more bloggers. So watch this list grow.

Here are the inspiring blogs including useful tips to get you through:

1. www.strongbuzzybee.wordpress.com

2. www.boobiebanter16.wordpress.com

3. www.ohhheycancerblog.wordpress.com

4. www.jodisgoing180.com

5. www.iowagirlstrong.wordpress.com

6. www.fidancingintherain.wordpress.com

7. www.moniquerose8.com

8. www.katejig.wordpress.com

9. www.iamredphoenix.com

10. www.braincancerbabe.com

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Satay By the Bay was Better than I imagined

Visited with B for my birthday last November but just blogging about it now. If you do want to go to Satay by the Bay and don’t want to walk much it’s better to park at the Marina Barrage area where they do kite flying. But the stroll wasn’t bad as it was not too muggy that evening and the haze had cleared by then. And I got to take pictures along the way.

The bull at the entrance where the main carpark is.

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The impressively ornate iron wrought gate that would be decked out in lights for Christmas. I missed that as I had the pain of Tumours then but no clue it was cancer or two different types of cancer as it turned out.

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As we strolled along the views were pleasing.

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Finally reached Satay by the Bay which is like an airy hawker centre with huge ceiling fans to boost ventilation.

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The satay and Hokkien Mee were tasty and satisfying and not the tourist trap I imagined.

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Loads of seafood and other stalls too.

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The walk back was pleasant and at least we could digest our food.

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I finally got to see the Supertrees lit up at night.

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