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I AM FEMALE MAGAZINE GUEST BLOGGER

17th May 2010 ~ 17th May 2011

On this date last year, I am on the same bed, the same green uniform and the same ward. Blood cancer ward. A year ago, the doctor diagnosed me of having Acute Myeloid Leukemia. A news that shattered my whole being as a wife of one month and 2 weeks. I muttered I'm sorry to him and he told me to hush.

I didn't write the story when it happened last year, I announced it to friends using twitter and facebook and it spread from there. Emails, tweets, comments and text messages came swarming in. I knew then I shouldn't give up, I only cried for a few hours and accepted my fate. I cried a lil again when the doctor told we may not be able to have kids due to nature of my high toxicity chemo drugs. But I was ready to do just about anything the doctors say to get better.

I had to undergo four chemo cycles, one cycle consisting of me staying in the ward for about 3-4 weeks each with permission to go home about a week after each cycle ends. The toughest times would be on Day6 - Day20 in which Day1 is the first day I receive chemo treatment. Days of receiving chemo treatment varies according to the chemo protocol given, it's the waiting period is the most torturing part. The chemo drugs will stripped down and kill all my blood cells including the good ones, and I will have to wait for my body makes new blood cells. At this point, I have zero body immune, the high count of white blood cells which fights off infection will drop down to a 0 and I will be super prone to even the slightest bit of infection. And an infection even as small as a flu could be fatal if not treated.

Side-effects; well the first few days of staying in the hospital I could eat the food they served. But on Day2 of the first chemo cycle, I hurled and barfed all the dinner I ate. Nausea consumes me, I was dizzy and smelly. I could barely eat afterwards. I tried having Nestum instant drinks and pears. I barfed that as well, in which I can not eat or smell Nestum and pear for such a long time, I believe I haven't had any up to this date of writing! It was hard, not being able to eat as I usually do. Body needs the supplement to build new blood cells but I have almost none. Doctors do try to help by giving meds that can ease the nausea. It helps a bit.

The worst I've been when I had the strongest chemo protocol of all four, had that in my 3rd chemo cycle. Not sure how it happened but I couldn't get up, I was shivering and so so weak. The doctors quickly transferred me to the center of the ward to make it easier for them to take care of me. I had to have the oxygen mask on to breathe, my blood pressure was really low doctors didn't allow me too get up at all or else I'll faint... Everything had to be done on the bed, I was a big sloppy baby again. And my mother was there to take care of me. I feel guilty. Naz was in India, on a business trip. The only business trip he agreed to take eversince I was diagnosed and this happens.

We fail to find stemcell match with my siblings and the donor database, Malaysia's donor database only consists of 100k+ donors, that is very sad Malaysian. Very very sad, imagine your daughter or wife needing a stem cell donor and there's no match. That is exactly what I'm going through. Not wanting to give up, we sent my blood sample over to Singapore/Taiwan to search for any match. Found a partial cord blood match in Taiwan. Risky.

There was one other way, using my own blood.

Autologous

Autologous HSCT requires the extraction (apheresis) of haematopoietic stem cells (HSC) from the patient and storage of the harvested cells in a freezer. The patient is then treated with high-dosechemotherapy with or without radiotherapy with the intention of eradicating the patient's malignant cell population at the cost of partial or complete bone marrow ablation (destruction of patient's bone marrow function to grow new blood cells). The patient's own stored stem cells are then returned to his/her body, where they replace destroyed tissue and resume the patient's normal blood cell production. Autologous transplants have the advantage of lower risk of infection during the immune-compromised portion of the treatment since the recovery of immune function is rapid. Also, the incidence of patients experiencing rejection (graft-versus-host disease) is very rare due to the donor and recipient being the same individual. These advantages have established autologous HSCT as one of the standard second-line treatments for such diseases as lymphoma.[15] However, for others such as Acute Myeloid Leukemia, the reduced mortality of the autogenous relative to allogeneic HSCT may be outweighed by an increased likelihood of cancer relapse and related mortality, and therefore the allogeneic treatment may be preferred for those conditions.

Sadly, my body didn't produce enough stem cells to be used for the transplant. We tried again, and failed. We did asked the doctor to try harvesting atleast one more time but as it happens, once failed it usually means it can not be done. And other medical center would not even try for a second time but Hospital Ampang did.

I went home for the first time, to stay longer than I have ever in our apartment. I was socially awkward, been cooped up in the hospital for the longest of time it feels battling for my life. Went for monthly check-ups while hoping the cancer wouldn't return. I felt great about myself, I have never ever felt, more alive.

And suddenly, I'm here again. On the very same bed, Bed 22. Doing the strongest chemo there is for my disease. If this one fails, I can't do anymore chemo. That, we will leave for Allah to decide for we are only able to plan.

Allahumma inni as alukal ngafiata fiddun-ya wal alkhirah
"O Allah, I seek from You for the good health here and hereafter."

Alas, I do have visitors coming over that brightens up my day with their smiles and happy stories. They warmed up my heart and leave me smiling, forgetting I am even sick to begin with. Some reached out to me, and I meet them half way with the plain harsh truth. Eitherway, I am thankful to be receiving such supports. And for those who couldn't come, all your lovely emails and messages are read, I shall reply to all of them within time ♥


Handsome Abah in his prime days ♥

p/s: Yesterday was also the anniversary of my father's death due to lung cancer, 17th May 1997. Would really appreciate it if you take a moment to recite Al-Fatihah for my late Abah..

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