Cancer Talk #5: Invincible Me

I had it all figured out:
The herbal medicines in hand would cure me.

Who cares if it means swallowing 10-12 unknown “herbal” pills per day right? They are herbal hellooo…meaning that they are safe! Common knowledge pfft!

I will travel and do whatever pleases me. This is my life after all.

So that was what I did. I pushed my body, my health. I ignored my constant cough. Sometimes though, I would unconsciously run my hand along my upper left chest, just above my breast. That was where I could feel the intruder. A lump. An invasion I never wanted.

Before doubting myself once more of my latest decision, I quickly removed my hand and said to myself, “That thing will be gone! It will!”

I needed prove that I was healthy, that I was not sick. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. So I put myself out there. I didn’t know who I was trying to prove, I think it was mostly myself.

Travel. I travelled quite a lot in 2014. I went to Bangkok with my best friend, Christa. I felt happy travelling with her but at that trip I felt unusually unfit. But against all odds, I enjoyed the trip and hoped Christa did too.

Bangkok with my most fashionable bestie
Bangkok with my most fashionable bestie
I went to Singapore a few times. Not to shop or cafe-hop but to explore interesting parts of the city like its ancient Bukit Brown Cemetery with my friend Sohini and her sister. Then with another friend Pamela, we went biking and trekking at Pulau Ubin. We also did a weekend getaway to Melaka.

I did active things because I wanted to prove that my body was OK, that I was invincible, I was not sick. I was not sick. I was not sick at all. A mantra looped in my head.

Back home I dragged a few friends to do river and cave tubbing. I even jumped from a waterfall at that trip. See, invincible!

Getting ready for cave-tubing
Getting ready for cave-tubing
Not only that, I needed prove that I could work too. I started a street food tour walk in Yogyakarta. I met with travellers passing by my city, showing them some of my favourite street food, educating them of my home. I loved every second of it, every person I met.

I published several travel articles in magazines, wrote a collaboration travel book with my travel blogger friends and I also helped my university lecturer by being his assistant, often teaching at his class. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a university teacher, and I liked it.

But with every effort, I could see that I was getting weak. The smile plastered on my face was fake. My chest burned every time I walked, I would stay up late because the coughing wouldn’t let me sleep, and it seemed that my breath was getting shorter by the minute.

And yet I pushed harder. If I told you I was a goody two-shoes before, well I am one stubborn goody two-shoes. In fact, forget goody two-shoes. I was simply a stubborn idiot.

Biking in Pulau Ubin
Biking in Pulau Ubin
Half way through 2014, an old friend from Salatiga, Helen was getting married. Friends of her husband (to be then) were also coming and she asked if I could be a guide to them as they wanted to see Yogyakarta. I agreed. A friend decided to help me because I knew of my capability.

Climbing the stairs of Borobudur was excruciating, the heat was making me weak, and although I did my best, deep down I knew this was my last push.

I had a great time I must admit. All the things I did, I did it gratefully, happily and gladly. What can I say, I love meeting people, being with people, interacting with people and most of all I love to travel.

But it was all too much.

I could no longer ignore my cough. I felt like I had a bad case of asthma. The intruder was not gone. The pills didn’t make me feel better though I was still clinging for hope. I was desperate to be my old self, my old not sick self. Where was she?


12 thoughts on “Cancer Talk #5: Invincible Me

  1. Aggy, you’re such a strong woman. Hats off to you! I have never met you but I still remember my Twitter messages to you a few years ago about getting a scholarship to Europe. You encouraged me, although now I’m walking a different path in my life, not the one I pictured at the time I was asking you those questions. Now the least of an encouragement I can give you is stay strong and positive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment just made my day! So happy to have somehow helped you and thank you for this message of encouragement. I know I keep saying this, but we must meet in real life one day!


  2. Hi Aggy,

    This is Kathrine, your swiss-ipc friend from Zurich! I didnt realize you had cancer? Louis side of the family has a lot of cancer too, so its not something foreign to me. How are you? Thank you for sharing your vulnerability on this blog! You don’t find a lot of people sharing their experiences, and this might give people a glimmer on what its like. I still remember a lot of the fun times we had in Zurich like the burning of the snowman! Hope to see you in this life again some time… 🙂



    • Hey Kathrine! So happy to hear from you 🙂
      Yea I decided to write my story as a way to deal with it and also just share it to anyone who’d like to read it. Still on chemo right now 🙂

      I remember all the fun we had in Zurich too! I miss it! Yes I do hope we cross paths again someday. All my love x


  3. Hi darla!
    You’re one tough cookie and an inspirational bestie. My prayers are with you. You can beat this and someday all of this will be a distant memory in your awesome life 🙂


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