July – October 2015
After several rounds of chemotherapy, I was allowed to go home for a few weeks. It was so good being home although I was exhausted. That few weeks went by so fast. I had to be back to Malaysia for a consultation.
My doctor wanted to do PET scan to see the effectiveness of the chemo. After being home, all I wanted was some good news.
I shouldn’t have been so optimistic. I should’ve kept my expectation low. But no. I wanted the scan to be clear, that the cancer cells miraculously disappeared. It would be a miracle. I would tell people, bewildered by this miracle.
The scan showed that the cancer cells were still there. A small part of me knew that and yet I was so devastated, I cried and cried. I hated everything all over again. I wailed and screamed and asked “WHY? WHY ME?”.
The doctor calmly explained that this was expected, I never received “full” chemo since he had to reduce my dosage due to my jaundice. It was never meant to be “an all clear” scan. He then went on to tell me that I needed radiation.
Radiation sounded so terrible. I had images of lasers piercing my body.
My doctor sent me to another doctor specialising in radiation therapy. It was decided that I would have 10 rounds of radiation. The radiation would be low dose because, again, of my jaundice and also because it would be near my vital organs. I was terrified.
Before the radiation started, I was tattooed little dots on my upper body to map the tumour. There are five little tattoos, I still have them, they are permanent after all. They let me go home after the mapping.
The next day, I was all set for my first round of radiation. It turned out, radiation was not as scary as I thought. I went 10 times, every day, except Sunday. Each time only lasted 10 minutes, 20 minutes with all the preparations. The staff were really friendly, every day they would call my name, took me to a special room for radiation, put me on the bed and there was a big machine above me. With the help of my tattoos, they placed the machine above me, on the right spot. It had to be exact. Then the staff left me and all I heard was a loud, but a non-intimidating hum from the machine.
It didn’t hurt at all. There were no red lasers coming out. I didn’t feel any burn. Nothing.
The side effects though, was coughing. It was fairly normal they said.
After 10 rounds, I was finished.
I went back to see my doctor. He told me I could rest while taking oral chemo. Meaning I didn’t need to be in Malaysia. I could take the chemo pills and go home to Indonesia….for a while.
Was I supposed to smile? Was I supposed to dance with joy?
I was allowed to go home and yet I knew my cancer was still unresolved. I was not a big fan of unresolved things.