Cancer Talk #16: When You Can’t Breathe and Have to Fly

April 2015

The best way for me was to go back to Malaysia. Although the doctors in Yogyakarta were trying their best to treat my pneumonia, they were scared of messing up the chemo plan the doctor in Malaysia had already prepared for me.

However, I was in need of an oxygen tube to breathe, how is it possible for me to fly?

Then, I remember the book and movie The Fault is in Our Stars by John Green, and if I could laugh out loud, I would have. There was a scene were Hazel went to the Netherlands and during the flight she was breathing through the oxygen from the oxygen mask of the airline. My dad chuckled a little bit when I told him this. Obviously it was not as simple as that in real life.

(Also, how does Hazel Grace only carry that small oxygen tank for one whole day, when I could only use it for 3-4 hours…the mystery of Hollywood films :D)

What I needed was an oxygen tank for me to breathe on the plane.

My parents looked confused. I was so weak, I couldn’t walk, my muscles were still in a lot of pain and now couldn’t breathe. They tried calling Air Asia, our usual ride to KL, and they informed us that they were not prepared for this kind of condition. My dad tried Silk Air too, though we had to transit in Singapore, and they too couldn’t assist us with this. Then one of my dad’s friend helped us and finally Garuda Indonesia (GI) said they were able to take us on board with an oxygen tank.

The problem was they had a procedure, where we would have to have a doctor on board (just in case something happens). GI informed us that we could have them prepare a doctor for us but we would have to pay a lot of money for it. In the end though we managed to get a doctor who was available and she flew with us, checking up on me every hour.

The flight was one of the most horrible and petrifying flights I have ever taken (it was way terrifying than the previous flight with the back cramp). We had to transit in Jakarta then Kuala Lumpur because there was no direct flight. My dad held the oxygen tank on his lap as we were not allowed to put it on the floor. I wished we could arrive to KL faster.

In Jakarta, an ambulance took me in while we were in transit. I was transported by a wheelchair since walking was impossible (heck, standing up from the plane’s chair was even hard work for me). There, they changed my oxygen tank as one tank could only last for 3-4 hours.

When we finally arrived in Kuala Lumpur, an ambulance was waiting for me on the runway. They took me in slowly and we went straight to the emergency of my hospital. I was tired and scared but also relieved that I was finally back to the hospital that knows my history.

At the hospital, I was put in the emergency ward while the doctor there waited for my doctor’s order. A few moments later I was transferred in an Intensive Care Unit. There, I looked at the beeping monitors, I was in an aquarium-like room, where a nurse was studying me every minute or so. I wondered how the heck I managed to get here.

I hated being there as I could see other patients who were in a lot worse state than me. In the middle of the night, I could see the the nurses were running in a state of emergency towards the patient in front of me. Turned out the patient had a flat line. This happened twice during the night. I was just plain scared and when my doctor came to visit me, I asked him, no, pleaded him to get me out of the ICU ASAP.



4 thoughts on “Cancer Talk #16: When You Can’t Breathe and Have to Fly

  1. Saat ibuku sakit dulu, dia juga merasa nyaman ke rumah sakit yang sudah paham riwayat kesehatannya. Juga ketika dokter yang menangani adalah dokter kepercayaannya. Mungkin ada sugesti juga yang terbentuk ya 🙂 eh tapi kalo aku lihat, faktor kenyamanan saat berobat juga berperan penting. “Ibu belom apa-apa sudah ngerasa sehat kalo ketemu dokter A” dan ya dokter A ini emang jago banget bercanda 🙂

    Selain Aggy, saat ini Iqbal (jalankemanagitu dot com) yang juga tengah berjuang dan tetap bersemangat untuk sehat. Percaya, Tuhan akan beri kesembuhan buat kalian 🙂


    • Iya bener sekali, kalau saya lebih karena sudah percaya dengan dokter dan suster di RS ini. Dan karena memang “riwayat” sakit saya cukup panjang jd complicated kalau pindah2 RS dan hrs njelasin ulang hehe. Terima kasih yaaa 🙂


  2. The mystery of a Hollywood movie indeed. An oxygen tank in a plane only has enough oxygen for about 12 minutes of normal breathing. This is due to the emergency nature of the event the tanks are designed for, where it is assumed within 12 minutes the pilot would, at least, have brought the plane to the altitude with “breathable” air….

    Anyway, kebayang ya ribetnya harus terbang ketika kondisi begitu, mana pakai transit pula >.< .


    • Aha baru tau! Kalau di film Hazel Grace cm dengan enaknya “nyomot” aja selang dr tank oksigen atas gt hahahahaha boong banget ya! Iyap emang ribet banget, tp untung wkt itu crewnya GI bantu banget. Fiuh! Jangan lagi deh ya…


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