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 retie 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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Sydney Trip: Trains to the Blue Mountains

It was rather tiring lugging bags after a red eye flight from Singapore to Sydney and then hopping on to two trains to get to the Blue Mountains. From the Airport to the Central Station and then from the Central Station to Lithgow. The cost of a taxi would have been too much. The train ride was pleasant though. Would have been a cinch if not for the luggage and tiredness after the flight. But once we reached the cool misty blue mountains, we felt refreshed and it was worth the journey.

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What I Miss & Don’t Miss About Travel

7 Things I Miss

1. Those amazing massages at spas that cost a fraction of what is charged in Singapore.
2. Just a new refreshing scene rather than the same old.
3. Immersing yourself in a new culture, learning and growing.
4. Appreciating what you have back home because the grass is not always greener.
5. Checking out the best street foods and cafes and throwing caution to the wind.
6. Cooler dryer weather that makes you not want to return to the sweltering heat.
7. Beauty of nature, gorgeous beaches and a feeling of space, after urban congested Singapore.

5 Things I Don’t Miss

1. The hassle and pain of air travel
2. Living out of your luggage and having to pack as you move.
3. The fear you feel of being pick pocketed or loosing your important documents.
4. Stomach issues when you eat something you’re not used to.
5. The fear of your luggage being delayed or lost.

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I Am Loving Instagram

I’m pretty active on Instagram even though I was a late adopter. It’s much easier to post a photo than write a whole blog post. I hope you’ll follow me there too. It was such a joy to look at beautiful photos of people when I was hospitalised. A nice much needed distraction.

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I started getting back on Twitter too but somehow Twitter is more for news and current affairs. You can follow me there too.

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I just love the strong visual aspect of Instagram where you can also drop messages and connect with others.

But the blog gives the the most satisfaction because of the amount of work that goes into it. And I appreciate all comments. Gives me a boost to carry on.

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Things I’m Looking Forward to After I’m Done with Chemo & Radiation

I know I’ll never quite be done as I previously imagined (there is no cure for cancer) and will have to be very vigilant with regular scans and blood tests, but being done with chemo and radiation will be great.

Ironically, I might even miss the comfort and feeling of safety of the poisonous toxic chemicals (paclitaxol & carboplatin) which are attacking my healthy dividing cells but are also killing the cancer cells. Just a necessity till a better more targetted affordable treatment is found.

On a bright note there is so much I can look forward to and decided to make a list to cheer myself up:

1. My hair growing back. I’ll take every bit of fuzz. Plus my eyebrows and eyelashes.
2. My skin not peeling, & loosing the current discolourations and rashes.
3. Gaining back sensation in my fingers which are now numb due to what they call peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage.
4. Being able to fully bend down to pick up stuff from the floor without getting dizzy.
5. Just having the energy to do what my heart desires. Right now my body can’t keep up with what my heart desires.
6. Travel anywhere, even a short trip.
7. Being able to carry and swing my favourite little ones around.
8. No more steroids and being famished all the time and gaining weight.
9. No more bloating from Chemo.
10. No more stares from insensitive rude people who see my headgear or bald head when I go out. I need to wear a T shirt saying cancer is not contagious. There are nice folks who are kind and smile at me though and I appreciate it.
11. No more chemo brain and the ability to concentrate and read more. Writing is not a problem though.
12. No more chemo brain and forgetting things and words.
13. Not having to avoid sick people I care about and am sad to be away from, or worry about my family members in the home falling ill and having to avoid them (which will be very hard) due to my low immunity. Just getting my strong immunity back.
14. Having a cocktail like a sangria, with my cousins. Not an alcohol drinker much but now that I can’t, I want to.
15. Doing a major declutter and spring clean without worrying about dust and exertion making me ill.
16. Being able to swim without worrying about infections as I have a portacath inserted.

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Dining Out In Singapore During Chemo

I would have never given this a second thought before, but it’s awful to never get a chance to dine out.

During my first chemo cycle when my drastic hysterectomy (including removal of womb, Fallopian tubes, ovaries, 21 lymph nodes and parts of the omentum) wounds were still raw, I was so weak and in pain that going out was not something I craved.

But later on as I got stronger, I desired the treat of having a tasty meal in a nice setting, provided the place was relatively empty. Empty because I can’t afford people bumping into me (unfortunately that happens a lot in Singapore) or catching their colds or coughs as they sneeze or cough violently into the air without any consideration for anyone around them.

So it was such a delight to satisfy a craving for American food like ribs, nachos and fries at Dan Ryan’s. Their salad is excellent too. Sorry for the messy ribs photo but that’s why happens when you can’t wait to dig in. Best part is I’m now told to have red meat to combat low red blood cell counts caused by the chemo meds.

The wait staff here are so polite and kind. That made the experience even better.

Loved the dimly lit soothing ambience as well.

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A post when when I visited the place 2 years ago.

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