Monday, August 4, 2008

An Evening With Cancer Patients

Ling, 59 was diagnosed with nose cancer a year ago. He had to stop work as a machine operator as the fainting spells could lead to industrial accident. He has been going in and out of hospital for his chemotherapy. As he has difficulties in eating, he survives on soft diet. At times, he salivated looking at those delicious food on the table. Recently he was able to eat rice but has to drown plenty of liquid to down the grain. He has just finished his evening tea and as he was speaking, traces of tea was dripping from his mouth. He was not bitter. In fact, he enlightened me with these statements. "You can still live if you are poor and have no money! But you can't live if you are not healthy!" "You can consider this illness as a blessing or payback time for all the sins committed. But I consider it as a blessing. My 3 kids have all grown up and I have fulfilled my responsibilities. Imagine if they are still in school - Die Also Must Work! (Malaysian English)

Leong, early 50s has a growth in his neck. He was a tile and marble contractor working in Dubai. Life was good there. Prior to there, he had a stint in Doha. 1 day he coughed blood and did not take it seriously. He thought it could be due to the hot weather. He did visit GP and popped in the normal drug. Then he felt a tumor in the neck. As the tumor was moving around from left to right and grew in size, he panicked. Worst fear was confirmed - neck cancer. He was fasting since morning and was waiting to be wheeled to the operation theater to remove the tumor. He did open up with tales on Dubai. 1 funny tale was on how they went searching for pork. Aagh! Chinaman, must have pork! (Reminded me of my uni days, where we would ride to the nearby town, 10km away for our weekly fix on pork!). Apparently, there was an 'underground' mainland Chinese joint, operating from an apartment room that served the roasted meat - char siew! The shop was always full as tables were limited.

Sik, 80 has growth in his hand. He started sharing his life story in traditional Hokkien. Came from China at the age of 19 in 1947 and had toiled hard over the decades to bring food to the family. Managed to balik kampong in 1995 and said there was massive development there. Asked about my folks and was surprised to hear that they were born here! Exchanged further note and he noted that my ancestors' kampong was nearby to his. I have no clue and just nodded as the only kampong I know is Kampong Air Panas, Kuala Lumpur!

Khairi, mid 50s from Teluk Intan. He 'kerja kampong' - that was what he said when asked about his profession. Stricken with lung cancer, he had since quit smoking. Few kids are still in school. The medical facilities are inadequate thus has to travel more than 100km by public bus to get his treatment in the city. Wife was there to accompany him. They have to depend on their folks back home to take care of the children. Wife has been sleeping on the floor and only on the bed if there is a spare bed in the ward. His only wish is to go home to be with his kids.

Najib, early 20s had his right leg amputated to contain the bone cancer. This boy was pale. Spoke to his elderly mom. They came from Banting. Najib had stopped schooling after SPM as the disease spread. The mom has been at his bedside ever since, taking care of his needs. That's motherly love at the highest level!

Samy, newly wed with a pregnant wife, was emotional to see us. After lenghty spells of headaches and many visit to different doctors, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. My mate massaged him which brought some relief. There was sign of bedsores!

An evening with cancer patients. It reminded me that the big C disease does not follow a quota system. It can struck anytime and has no sentimental value for auspicious dates like 08.08.08 or 2020! It does not discriminate and does not give 2 hoots on the colour of your skin, age, profession etc! And you cannot bribe it away! The scary part is all parts of your body can be 'attacked'!

So let us start leading a healthy lifestyle. Watch our diet, take care of our mental and physical conditions. Curb our anger and spread loving kindness! May You Be Free From Mental And Physical Suffering!

All names had been changed! Pic - strive diligently before you turn into T-Rex!

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