On Friday 20th May, for the past 2 days she had a high fever that would not subside. Upon a check up with a local clinic, the doctor diagnosed her as anaemic and advised her to go to the hospital immediately. At the hospital, blood tests later showed she had a low blood cell count and was immediately given a blood transfusion.
Plans fixed months ahead with air tickets booked and prepaid was that she was to fly off to the US on June 6th with the first group of 4 family members for Su's wedding so with this occurrence, is it still possible? The second group of 3 was to be led by Dad on June 11th after the two boys finished their school activities.
Her determination to be there for her daughter's wedding provided a challenge to the head oncologist, Dr Koo Wen Hsin to find a way that would be safe for her to make the journey! After some thinking, he came up with the solution. He recommended that she cut the duration of her stay in US from 3 to 2 weeks which meant she would fly later with the 2nd group with Dad while Han the oldest will take over the lead to still leave on 6th June with Ray the youngest and their cousin Ying Er.
On Sat 21st May, after the successful blood transfusion that brought her fever down to normal, Dr Koo asked Mom if she could start taking a new oral chemo drug immediately. Mom hating chemo and its side effects asked if it could help her get to her daughter's wedding. Dr Koo responded that it was precisely the point for the oral chemo recommendation and Mom instantly agreed. They started the oral chemo for her on the same day
On Sun 22nd May, they conducted a CT scan on her to give Dr Koo a better picture of Mom's condition. The experienced and wise Dr Koo made another recommendation. Knowing that once in a foreign country, if Mom would fall ill, finding medical attention with doctors that didn't know her history could be fatalistic. He suggested implanting a Hickman line on her body exiting on her upper chest that would allow intravenous administration of any required drug or blood transfusion with quick access to her blood stream instead of looking for her veins with a needle that is harder and more time consuming.
For the next few days, Mom's condition was closely observed especially her body temperature. Good news is that after the initial fever in the first night home, her body temperature was soon normal and stabilized.
On Sat 28th May, Mom was fit enough to attend the graduation of Dixon Grant as the newest doctor in town, graduating from the Duke NUS medical school of Singapore :
Dixon and his wife Chelsea became our close neighbors in Singapore when they first came for Dixon to attend Duke NUS graduate medical school in the year 2007. (See the Joyous Christmas Day we spent together in 2009) Some interesting developments came from this connection beyond our expectation. Chelsea's parents David and Cathy Bush, who are from Logan in northern Utah, came to Singapore for a visit. They generously offered their home if we were to visit Logan which wasn't a possibility then as in all our trips to Utah, we would be staying south of Salt Lake city in areas closer to Provo where the Brigham Young University is as Su studies there. When Fei announced her marriage to Christopher Wyatt in Logan Utah for 29th May 2010, we accepted the Bushes hospitality where their home became the bride's home for the wedding! See the journal post here.
Thu 9th June : The Relief Society Sisters were here again to help the family. When Mom first had to be admitted to hospital, food was cooked and brought for the family. A family member had also offered rides to mom to the hospital. The Bishop and wife had also visited the home after mom was discharged. Today two RS sisters would help accompany Mom to do some shopping for the trip and later bring her to the hospital for her 3.30pm appointment. I was to spend time at home getting organized with the luggage to bring all the big bags back on the van to KL while Mom and the two boys would ride comfortably on the coach to KL on Saturday. What would you expect when 3 women go shopping together? At about 3.30pm the hospital called the house looking for Mom who obviously had not shown up yet. I called her cell to remind her and the response was they were just finishing their last bit of shopping in an area nearby the hospital and would rush off soon for the appointment. It was a short appointment to get her ready for the trip by having all the necessary drugs to bring along and that she be taught how to clean and maintain the Hickman line to keep it free from infection. I left back for KL with a fully loaded van full of luggage late in the night. I was left with one day on Friday to do my own preparation and last minute shopping for the trip.
Sat 11th June : Mom had booked the 1pm coach from Singapore to arrive in KL about 5pm with the two boys. At about 2pm plus, I received a phone call from Mom that they were stalled at the second Tuas link crossing to Malaysia due to a massive traffic jam. They only made it across by 6pm and there was another 4 hour journey to KL to reach about 10pm instead of the earlier plan of 5pm! The original plan was for me to pick them up at a stop just outside the KL boundary and have dinner before taking them to the Sentral Station to catch the KLIA express train together to the airport. Though the train ride would take only 28 mins to the airport, this plan now had to be abandoned including the train tickets we had purchased online as we won't have enough time to check in for the flight. We quickly thought of an alternative plan which was to get off the coach earlier near Seremban which was closer to the airport. We would call a radio cab to meet the group at the rest stop off the highway near Seremban to take them directly to the airport while I would be on a separate taxi alone with all the big luggage to meet them at the airport. After all the drama of the day, we gobbled our McDonald dinner as we successfully checked in on time at the airport to fly off a little past 11.30pm!
Touch Down pics at Salt Lake City and what follows can be seen by clicking here.
Post dated events continued :
Fri 29 July : After being back from the US on 25th June, her 'mobile' chemo supply was topped up again and on this day was her check up with Dr Koo in the early morning to see her latest results after blood samples were taken from her for tests the previous day. It was elating news as her blood platelets were up and cancer markers down. The great joy was added with the attendance of Shuan's scholarship award in the afternoon, making it a triple win week for reasons recorded here.
Fri 26 Aug : On this day the follow up visit with Dr Koo after blood samples was taken in the morning revealed positive results again that her blood platelets were up and cancer markers down further. The plan now is to have her continue the chemo but be given a rest period from it for a 2 week period ending on the next check up date. This is certainly very encouraging news. Blood tests will be made on the next check up to see her condition after going with chemo for 3 weeks and without for 2 weeks.
Fri 7 Oct : Blood tests done in the morning was reviewed by Dr Koo by noon time to reveal continued improvement in her blood platelets ie. being higher which made Dr Koo very happy as he said this was the important indicator to him. Her cancer markers also continued to be going down further. He now approved to give her a further 4 week break from chemo before the next check up to monitor her progress. This is wonderful news indeed! If the results of the next check up fixed for 4 Nov show continued positive results after a total of 6 weeks without Chemo, it is a sign that her body is taking over to fight the cancer to have full recovery without the Chemo drug.
Wed 12 Oct : Our 'Unstoppable Mom' takes to the skies again to attend a training meeting in Hong Kong organized by the Church. Part of her work and calling with the Church has been to maintain this website.
The last three check-ups with the doctor since coming back from the US wedding trip showed that she has been recovering remarkably well thoughout this period to make this trip but with a difference. Compare the following to pics :
What was not journalized earlier at that time is the fact that we wanted to know what could be the main reason for the improvement. We had informed Dr Koo about the fact that while in Salt Lake City, Dad was given 2 complimentary cases of a revolutionary product that Mom had started to take a minimum dosage of daily to this date. This was a product that came from a very advanced science of using stabilized Redox Signaling molecules that could be created outside the body. We needed to know whether it was the chemo drug or the test product Mom took that helped her get the consistently improved results so far. Gradually Mom was getting a 'rest' period from the chemo and after the good results of today's test, he would approve another 5 weeks break till the next appointment on 9th Dec.
Coincidentally, the front page of the Singapore Health news available freely at the hospital that I had picked up has the headlines, "Smart drugs to battle cancer". According to Dr Toh Han Chong, Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Medical Oncology, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS),"The weapon in this fight is a range of smart drugs - molecular drugs which don't cure but can potentially stop the cancer from growing."
The other interesting part of today's visit was the presence of another doctor on a wheel-chair in Dr Koo's room. He was apparently observing Dr Koo in the field of oncology. He was briefly introduced by Dr Koo as Dr William Tan, a world adventurer on wheel chair who has attempted feats like Alpine Skiing and even a wheel chair push across Antarctica! More about this interesting man on this post.
Sat 10 Nov : Blood samples were taken the day before and Dr Koo decided to change to see Mom today. Her blood count still showed improved blood count and platelets. Cancer markers seemed good enough for him to allow Mom to be off chemo till the next appointment in January which by then would have had her off Chemo for a straight 3 month period of time!
Tue 10 Jan 2012 : Mom didn't start off the New Year well as just before Christmas she could feel that her body was not well with aches in her feet. She started having fevers in the night which persisted and had to be given anti-biotics about a week ago. On today's scheduled appointment for blood tests and review with Dr Koo, the test results were not good. Cancer markers were up and blood count had dropped though still in a safe level. An infection is the possible cause for the fever and Mom had detected some pus from her Hickman line but it is not certain whether this was the main cause of the infection or that her bone cancer cells were getting active again! A decision was made to start her on the same chemo again that had proven effective that allowed her to travel to the US for Su's wedding to get her in a stronger position again. Her next blood test and doctor's appointment is scheduled for Tues Jan 31st. It is noted that Dr William Tan met in the last Nov 4th appointment with Dr Koo was present today as well.
With the sad news of the day, just as we were about to walk out of the hospital, we looked up at all the hanging paper cranes