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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King’s Park & Botanic Gardens

Besides the beach and Freemantle Market, King’s Park is another place I’m so glad I got to see. Wanted to have a drink at one of the cafes, but it was surprisingly even more crowded than Singapore being a Sunday. But it was still lovely to walk the grounds and a great photo opportunity. Seems a lovely place to picnic under the shade of a tree.

Even the former Indonesian president was there as you can see in the last photo with a huge entourage (during the period there was haze in Indonesia and as a result Singapore and Malaysia as well).

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The Queen’s Tree at King’s Park

I was extremely impressed by the Queen’s tree at King’s Park. What a lovely idea and a sight to behold. The white bark so pretty against the sparkling blue sky. And the details of the pretty tiara, blue sash and hooped gown – just brilliant.

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There is meaning behind it to commemorate the River Red Gum tree planted by Queen Elizabeth II more than 60 years ago – 27th March 1954.

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My Chemo Brain

It’s real and is worse during the chemotherapy session itself. I can’t do more than one thing at a time and find it a huge effort to listen and respond to people talking to me. Just listening and trying to concentrate causes fatigue. It feels very taxing on the brain. I search for words which used to come so effortlessly for me.

And please forgive me if my photos go a bit haywire. Am blogging from my phone and need to get back to my computer to adjust the photos. Looks fine from the mobile but am told they are flipped over on computers.

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Thinking About How to Revive Myself

I had a plan to blog about my most recent trips to Danang, Perth and Sydney, but the amount of photos I took make the task overwhelming.

But I will attempt it bit by bit. Hope I can point out highlights and useful tips if you plan to travel to these places as well.

I want to relive the joy. And it’s good to remember that the cancer doesn’t define me and that I’m still me. I think it’s helpful to still write about my cancer journey as well and of course what it’s like living in Singapore. So much to do, so little time. But that’s a good feeling as I love being engaged and having my plate full.

Writing stretches time somewhat and that’s the magical aspect of it. I also like the idea of my thoughts being put out there in a permanent fashion and hope to print these out one day for ease of reading, just for myself.

Bouncing around the idea of self publishing in my head. Seems a dream at the moment, but dreams do keep you alive.

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Living For the Day

Might be easier to live day by day or moment by moment rather than to think about the future. And by think I mean worry, which is something I can get an Olympic medal for.

During this time you start to question your purpose in life. And there seems to be so much to do and very little time.

Another twist is that there’s so much I want to do, but I’m afraid to exert myself too much. I’m not sure how much I can do. There’s an uncertainty. Never felt this kind of self imposed prohibition before. I really should let go of that fear and try to do a little more each time? After all my surgical wounds have healed by now? That was what was holding me back before and leading to other problems like pain, infections and hospitalisation. Compounded by the chemotherapy.

My partner tells me not to worry and just focus on getting through the chemo and radiation. That’s all I have to focus on. After that’s over I can think about getting into the peak of health, but very slowly. That sounds like a good plan. Something to look forward to.

My oncologist keeps telling me to have a short getaway at Sentosa during a brief chemo break. Maybe that might be a good getaway when you can’t travel. A staycation including massages. At the moment though, after all those hospitalisation stays, home is truly the best.

 

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Not Sure What to Write Today

So much on my mind that I want to offload but I don’t know where to begin. It’s harder to write about negative thoughts because it seems indulgent. But that’s the reality.

Before the diagnosis I thought it (the cancer) would all be settled with the surgery. Only later did I learn I had to go through chemotherapy followed by radiation. I was looking forward to it to being all over then and to able to return to my normal life. Now I just learnt that cancer cells may be resistant to chemo and so you need to undergo chemo again but this time with different drugs. There is no more normal but the ‘me before’ and ‘me after’ diagnosis. Hopefully the ‘me after’ can be the better version.

And another reality is that detection and treatment for Ovarian cancer is rather lacking and more research is needed. My oncologist wants me tested for the faulty gene, the one that Angelina Jolie has. It’s great that she has used her celebrity to raise awareness for  this cancer.

I found out there is no Ovarian Cancer support group in Singapore. That was rather disappointing. Also in countries like the US or Australia wigs for chemo patients are considered to be prosthetics and covered by insurance, but not here. I also feel that there should be free cancer screening for the population because prevention is always better and would mean less cost in the long run.

I think the oncologist doesn’t want to scare or overwhelm me so not so good news comes in tiny pieces like possible side effects like ulcers in the mouth which I seem to be getting now. I also have a much higher resting heart beat, 90 vs 70, also a side effect of chemo. It may be adding to feelings of anxiety, because lately I’ve been getting panic attacks  in the car again.

Will try to focus on the good things and joys in life – nieces’ birthdays, cousin’s wedding. Just don’t want to miss a thing.

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