Remembering my Mum: Diagnose with Cancer

Life is unpredictable. Everyone says : Live your life to the fullest. Life is short. Time wait for no man. Don't waste your life away. Death is not frightening, but what about being terminally ill? I've heard people saying comforting words like : Now technology is so advanced, don't need scare one, doctors can treat, they are so smart!

There are many cancer patients out there fighting for their life everyday. Battling emotionally and physically is not easy because its a war between life and death. I've heard stories from the hospital and seen with my own eyes on how much care is put into caring for cancer patients. I used to have subtle understanding about charity drive as I was unable to feel or empathize them because no one in my family was sick. However, I still do donate because when I was young, my mum or dad would gave me coins to put in that steel container and I would collect the sticker from the volunteers. When I was 15, our school organised a fund raising program for Down Syndrome. It was a compulsory event because we have to fulfill some thing (which I can't remember the name) and no one was able to be excused. We went under the hot sun, asking for donation and at time, putting some coins inside so that I wouldn't lose out to other classmates who had more coins than me. It was until when I got older, I got to understand why charity drives are important. It was not the fun, but the money donated by public could really make the difference to each family. Because my mum was diagnosed with cancer.

It all happened 10 years ago. My mum was a healthy plump and strong woman who was not afraid of cold. I used to hide beside her to get her body warmth. However, things changed after she had a fall. She was only 46 then. A fall at that age seem to be nothing to be worried about but changed all our life since then.

She was all good until one day, she realised that there are blood contents in her urine. She went to the doctor and doctor gave her some medicine for urinary infection. It was a common for women to have urinary infection and the doctor did not think otherwise. She took for a while but blood still appeared. Then one day, after urinating, she found some solid particles in the toilet bowl. She felt that something is amiss and she brought the sample to doctor. Our GP wrote a referral letter and told my mum to go to the SGH immediately. 

And she was admitted, took the necessary scan and test but doctor could not find what was wrong. In the end, doctor suggested an operation so that they can see what was happening in her body. I was having my lecture when my mum had an operation at 3pm. It was a very long operation and my mum came out only like hours and hours later. All of us were waiting to hear what the doctor have to say. Upon opening up the abdomen, doctor found that her bladder had shifted downwards near her intestine and as such, the friction between the bladder and intestine had caused a hole on the intestine, which was why there are solid particles in her urine. On top of that, near the intestine, they had removed the tumor of the size of golf ball. Part of her intestine was rotten and it had to be removed. My mum was put under ICU after the operation. All these doesn't end here, she has to go through test and test to see if the cancer has spread and if chemo was needed etc. Going through all the test and it resulted that my mum had a stage 4 cancer, where the cancer cells had entered lymph nodes. She needed to go for chemotherapy. My sis and I used to accompany her to the hospital for her chemotherapy and each session lasted 2 hours. It was a dripping medicine and we waited patiently for her to end the session before going home. After a few months, she was better and we were almost back to our daily life. During that time, my love and I brought them to Bangkok, then to Taiwan, and to Batam. It was the best time of our life being able to bring the old folks overseas.

However, all good things don't last. After 3-4 years, her cancer relapsed and this time, the cancer cells spread to her lungs. They attacked her both lungs and the larger tumor was found growing on one of her lung. She needed to go for another operation again and it took off some weight from her. After the operation, she had to go for radiotherapy everyday until the cancer cells were reduced or under controlled. During that time, I accompanied her to the hospital almost everyday though the radiotherapy was just a mere 5 minutes. Then, I know that I cannot afford to lose her. Since then, I was not the deficient teenager but a daughter who would try my best to fulfill her wishes and bring her around Singapore and taking her to restaurants she wanted to try. That was the best time of our life. Since my sister gave birth to her first child, she would stay home to rest and asking my sis if she would be back with her grandchild.

Over the years, my mum's health deteriorates and last year, she fell ill again, admitting to the hospital for the X times. She was in a bad shape, never had I see her lost a weight to just 45kg. Doctor said that her lung was injured from the previous operation and it had caused her lung to be deflated. She was on antibiotic and some dripping to god I know what those were. Through CT scan and X-ray, Doctor said that her lung had punctured, which caused them to have air and water. During that 3 weeks stay, she had tubes from the side of her body, pumping the water and air pump out from the lung. But all and all, her right lung collapsed and she was left with left lung to stay alive, Doctors told us to be mentally prepared for they see that my mum was only left with half-life.

But amazing, she pulled through that horrendous incident and she was discharged. Besides being skinny, she looked pretty good. After her discharge, my sis and I planned a 3 days 2 night stay at Sentosa Siloso Resort during the long weekend on National Day. We visited the Wax Museum, the Singapore Image and Sand of Time, whichever event was on. We were so happy as the 3 generations spend our time together. In September, my mum and I went to Port Dickson to have a short break with the rest of our relatives. Life has never been this perfect with my mum.

Over the last 1 year, she had also admitted to the hospital a few times but all seems alright except last week. Last Saturday, mum woke up, almost choking. I asked her what happened she said that her saliva /phlegm is choking on her, making her difficult to breathe. She was already on oxygen but that doesn't help. After much contemplation, I suggested calling an ambulance to send her to AnE. Staying at home doesn't help as we do not have any equipment or medicine to help her. I was worried. Immediately, we packed her bag (as the usual), called the ambulance and took necessary documents with us. After 30-45 minutes, the ambulance came and drove us to SGH with speed you can never imagine with. I heaved a breathe of relief as I knew my mum should be getting some help from the Doctors. We waited 2-3 hours outside the AnE, hoping the doctors would come out and brief us on my mum's condition. Then we were informed that she had a minor heart attack. We had expected mum to be admitted. My brother, Xiong and I left the hospital after we knew that mum would be admitted.

When I returned the next day, I saw my mum lying on the bed, feeling drowsy with on the oxygen, I felt something amiss. She looked totally different from the previous time she was admitted to hospital. I expected her to be well and good, looking and chatting with me like the usual whenever she admitted hospital but it wasn't. I go to her ears and wake her up gently. That was when she slowly open her eyes subconsciously. I was afraid. Never had I seen her this way. As times goes by, the nurses increases her dosages and giving her the maximum oxygen they could but her blood pressure and oxygen level keep falling. From time to time her hands and legs are getting colder and stiffer. She was getting unconscious each hour and at times, she broke into cold sweat but she couldn't tell us anything as the phlegm was stuck in her throat. Eventually , we lost the way to communicate.

The next morning, Doctor came to tell us that mum would go within these 2 days...

My cousin taught me to tell her to use signals instead, if it is a yes, she could squeeze my hands. So I merely asked her 4 questions: Do you want to see dad? Yes. Do you feel uncomfortable? Yes. Are you still hanging on? Yes. Do you want to go home? Yes. With these, I told my brother to call my dad immediately. My sister, brother, me and Xiong had a rough night as my mum kept pulling off the oxygen mask. She might have something to tell us but without the oxygen, she would be in a dangerous state. As each hour passed, my mum became deep in her sleep and more often, she would once a while tried her best to open her eyes.. The last time she closed her eye was when she saw my family by her bedside, including baby Eng.

By 7pm, the interval of her breathing became longer, and slower.. Her wrist were cold and feet were totally stiffed despite the socks were on. We held on to her hands and stayed by her side until she left... ...

No amount of words can explain when I saw my mum stopped breathing... After she passed on, we informed all our relatives and friends who want to come to see her the last time.. Me and Love went home to take her favorite clothes so that the nurses could wash her up and put her in her clothes. The next day, we held her wake at the void deck below our block. She was cremated last Friday and now, she is sitting in my living room, her photo facing the TV everyday.

I missed her so much that I will just think of her whenever my mind was unoccupied. From the day I was born, she had never let me go to school hungry or leave by my side for more that 1 week (unless she go holiday). I knew that she would be home whenever I come home. With her, anywhere is home. She taught me things that no one will, and set an example to me so that I could grow up to be one person who will set an example to my children.  

There were so much words I would want to say to her, even if it was just some small chats. Now, I could only keep the best memories of her in my mind and heart. Miss you dearly Mum...


1 comment:

  1. She will always be in my heart. She's so special to my mum and I see her as my second mum. It is difficult for me to let her go but I tell myself that her life has been fulfilling while she was alive and that heaven took her for a reason.

    We all have to let go at some point. But she stays in my heart and my memories. I miss her but I know she's in a better place and perhaps watching over us.