Happy Chinese New Year 2015!

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xin Nian Kuai Le! Kong Hei Fatt Choy! Keong Hee Huat Chai!

Here’s wishing everyone around the world Happy Chinese New Year! May the new year bring you continuous better health, prosperity and joy!

Yesterday, every family sat around the table to have Reunion Dinner with loved ones. Today, families and friends visit one another exchanging red money packets accompanied by good wishes.

Those who have slaved themselves in the kitchen throughout these couple of days will try to find time to relax whenever they could, in between meals. For those who have it better, just party on. This is the time of the year when some family members will gather around to play a few card games for the fun of it and sharing laughter.

I am not a traditional person therefore I do not observe the traditional customs. When I do so, it is due to respect for the older generation. I can’t even explain the significance of Chinese New Year (CNY), except it is the new lunar year. I may be wrong…as for taboos, unless it satisfies my logical thinking mind, I shall accept the practice. Failing which, I shall not follow blindly nor would I preach them to my children.

I am sure there are many who will condemn my ignorance but I am contented with just my way of doing things. To me, everyday is a good day, a Birthday, a Mother’s or Father’s Day, a new year day, etc. I believe in living in the present and celebrate life’s little event and achievement on daily basis. For any disappointment, challenge or failure, it is only temporary. We learn from lousy decision or action so that we can do better for the following day.

I preach to my children about simplicity of life and being honest to themselves and those around them. We do things because we want to and happy doing them rather than being forced to and feeling negative about them. Barring the circumstances when we have do to so due to respect to the host or our elderly relatives. Let our conscience guide us.

So, this new year, the same as every year, wishing everyone the very best of new year, new chapter in life and new resolution! Most importantly, may you enjoy continuous good health, prosperity and joy throughout the year of sheep.

Cheers to all and “Yum Seng”!!!

~ Alice N.

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2014 Ending

Is it the time or is it just me….that feels like 2014 passes with high-speed! It is an eventful year for me.

Where my parents are concerned, dad has been diagnosed since early July with a type of cancer called GISTs. Treatable with targeted treatment drug. Thank God he responds well to Glivec and much thanks to Max Foundation for their kind support. Towards end of the year, we found out that Dad’s right ear experiences poorer hearing ability. Mom on the other hand, was admitted for heart issue in October and is now under medication. It has finally dawned on us that our parents are getting older and health has gradually deteriorated. Fortunately, my parents live in a beautiful and quiet town with breathtaking lake gardens where they can go to every morning for their exercises. Air is fresh and surrounded by greenery. I wish for my parents to have healthy and happy golden years to come.

In the heart of my home, my children had completed their major examinations. With the new year, we’ll see one entering the secondary school while the other entering university and due to start taking his driving lessons. Soon, he will be driving himself and us around. Can’t wait. I am glad that darling husband makes time for little family holidays amidst his busy schedule. Nothing beats making wonderful memories with family, isn’t it? It reminds me of my childhood where we had great family activities which we cherished to this day. It doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it is time spent away from work, colleagues and friends to focus more on our loved ones. I call it touching base with the centre of our souls.

Our children are growing and soon one by one will be leaving home to further their studies and thereafter creating their own life paths. If we don’t spend time with them now, we may lose the chance to create wonderful memories with them. There is no way we can turn back the clock when we finally can spare that free time. By then, they might have their own plans and most often the not, these plans don’t include parents, sorry! To me, there is not enough free time in this rat race life. There is always another task that needs our immediate attention when there is a time slot, isn’t it? However, if we care enough, we know that we have to create that time for our beloved family….before it is way too late!

So, what have you accomplished for the last 12 months of year 2014? Small accomplishments do count. It is the cumulative small contributions and actions that make the big difference in our lives, besides the big ones. Remember, to change anything, it starts small. If we were to wait for the big action or big change, it may not come at all or slightly better, it’ll take a much longer time to present itself to us.

Whether we have done enough, or not for 2014, I am sure you have done your very best. Continue to work on your new resolution(s), correct what have gone wrong in the new year, and most importantly, keep moving forward. You’ll be fine. Don’t sweat the small stuffs.

I apologise for not writing as much as I like to. Too many things happened in this year, bittersweet ones. I have to live with them, past them and move along. There were times when I just wanted to rest my achy body and tired mind, to just lay down to sleep and not waking up; there were times when I felt the sense of hopelessness, anxiety, anger, frustration, disappointment and loss of direction; adversely, I also felt the joy of giving and sharing what I have and achieving small accomplishments; there were times when I felt so happy that my heart felt like bursting to million stars. During this time, we make new friends, experience new discoveries, attaining a higher level of knowledge and realizing our threshold of pain and endurance! Oh well….this is what life is all about.

Please allow me to mention and pay tribute to loss of lives in flights MH370, MH17 and QZ8501. My deepest condolences to their families. May the families find peace within, may there be “angels” to watch over them as they grieve for their loss of loved ones. Lives will never be the same again but I still pray that they will find the strength to carry on. I feel for the families of pilots and crew members. I can imagine their anxiety whenever their family members have to leave for duty. Let us appreciate the services extended by these lovely people.

Lastly, I must thank you all for reading my blog posts and your comments. Pleasure has been mine to share what I go through in life and what knowledge I have. Hopefully, it helps, one way or another, for those who share similar experience, to know that you are never alone in this big big world.

Farewell to 2014 and let’s toasty to a better and greater new year. Take care!

~ Alice N.

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Mommy Dearest

Just last week my mom was admitted to the hospital for heart attack. No frightening symptom except splitting headache which couldn’t go away, tight chest, shallow breathing and cold sweat. She thought that could be due to her recent worries about my brothers’ well-being and my dad’s health, and if she were to sleep more, the discomfort would disappear. Somehow, it didn’t and that was the body telling her something wasn’t right.

She walked to a clinic nearby to see the doctor and was immediately asked to get herself admitted to the hospital. She walked home, calmly finished up some house chores left undone that morning then asked Dad to send her to the hospital.

Mom stayed a night in Taiping Hospital at the CCU. I was glad that she had acted fast enough to seek medical attention. Health wise, she has been treated for raised cholesterol and that’s all. Her blood pressure thus far has been good for her age. She eats and sleeps well too.

I discussed with Dad and we both decided that she should agree to be transferred to Ipoh Hospital for further examinations. So, Taiping hospital made the necessary
arrangements for her and the next morning, she was sent there in an ambulance.

My daughter and I reached Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh and be with her when she arrived. My son’s sitting for his major exams so staying back with dearest hubby. First look at Mom, she was as pale as a sheet of paper! Mom told me the doctors, nurses and paramedics were so kind and careful. Thanks to all who had attended to my mom. This kind of warm treatment one can’t get from other hospitals I know off! I was pleasantly surprised and impressed! Kudos to Taiping Hospital!

Mom was taken to the Cardiac Recovery Ward (CRW) , a couple of doctors came to ask her some questions, briefed her about angiogram procedure. She was to fast from food and drink so that if she were to be called for angiogram procedure, she could do so instantly. We waited till late evening for her turn to come. There were just too many critical cases. Even the hospital beds weren’t enough to cater for all patients. New patients kept coming in.

Mom’s procedure took about 30 minutes. Mom said mild blockage and just need to take oral medication. Phew! What a relief! Mom told us all to go back to the hotel to have a good rest now that she is fine.

The next morning, the doctor told Mom about her enlarged heart. This was further confirmed on the ultra sound. Mom was advised to go to Kuala Lumpur for a cardiac MRI. The doctor would issue a referral letter and make an appointment for her to go there for an examination.

You can’t imagine how happy we were to get Mom discharged and go back home. I insisted that Dad and Mom must go back with me so that Mom can get rest from house chores. All she needed to do was to relax and continue with her morning walk in my residential area. The more she rests, the faster she gains back her strength. Tried to keep them longer with us here but after 5 days, they returned to their home. I had to give in to keep them both happier.

When people and doctors said that mental stress is cause to many health issues, we have to believe it, seriously. I noticed that parents’ health started to deteriorate when they were consumed by sadness and worries. Sadness that stemmed from being hurt (emotionally), great disappointment, anger, frustration, etc. That reminds us all that we must focus on our mental health. Having a healthy body doesn’t quite guarantee a healthy mind. As mindful as we feed our body with the right food, we must also feed the right thoughts into our mind and brain. Stress can’t disappear. Living in this challenging and modern world, we have all kinds of stress. The higher the expectation one sets, the higher the stress. All we can do to beat that is to manage our stress well. Keep them as low as possible.

As humans, we can’t stop ourselves from worrying about the outcome of things in our lives and people we love dearly or concerned about. However, we must train our minds to filter the things which we should be worried about and things we should discard from worrying. Things we have control over, do have deep thoughts about them then act upon them. Things that are beyond our control, let them go. I know it is easy said than done, but for yours and family’s sake, just let go. There is nothing you can do about it. If you stay still and worrying about them, you will be wasting your positive energy and have restless sleep. What would be the outcome thereafter? Who is going to suffer at the end? Love yourself and recognise that you can’t do everything by yourself. Learn to reject and say “No” to negative energy.

I have to constantly reminding Dad and Mom to move forward with positive thoughts, exercise daily, be with good friends and go for holidays. Thankfully, my parents have a group of friends who are most supportive and caring. They meet every morning for exercise around the beautiful lake garden and then having breakfast together. They even go on short holidays together! Awesome gentlemen and ladies!

As we get older, it is important to surround ourselves with a handful of good friends, have our own hobbies and have purpose in life so that we can enjoy our golden years in a more fulfilling way. As for adult children, they are living their own lives, making their own choices. Regardless if these choices are right or wrong, they are no longer the parents’ responsibility. Take good care of own health and live as freely as possible. Be happy! Enjoy life!!! These are my Wishes to my parents all the time. For them to live their lives for themselves. They have done more than enough for us children. It is our turn to make their lives better.

On recent admission, my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the doctors, nurses, staffs and paramedics of Hospital Taiping, Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, friends near and far, relatives, for their well wishes and prayers. We shall overcome it, one after another. Thank God for sending Angels our way.

Let us today vow to take care of our physical and mental well-being. God bless.

~ Alice N.

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2nd Month on Glivec

IMG_3959.JPG Hope you like this picture. It is a beautiful lake back in my home town, Taiping, Perak, in West Malaysia. Each time I look at it, it brings me calmness and never fails to put a smile to my face.

I am supposed to update Dad’s journal on monthly basis but due to unusually tight work schedule and some family issues, I kept putting it off. Right this minute, I’m typing on my iPad mini, on the way downtown for lunch, with a few family members; continue typing as I sit here on a marble bench, at the mall, while waiting for others to join us.

That particular visit, towards end of August, was to see his Oncologist and to go for a CT Scan before the Doctor can determine whether Dad should continue with Glivec. The preparation prior to the CT Scan was the same as before. Having done it once before, we knew what to expect and do, with decreased anxiety. After the scan we met with the Oncologist. This round, the time taken for scan, results and finally doctor’s consultation was shorter too! It was indeed a great relief that we didn’t have to stay there for almost the whole day, unlike before. There were just so many people who were unwell…

The scan reports showed us that the lesions on the liver had reduced in size and number. The size of the tumour in his stomach had also reduced, measuring from 5cm to 4.2cm. Others remain unchanged. Side effects wise, last month, we noticed slight water retention around his left ankle and would be more so on both legs, when he sits for long hours. The second month, we noticed slight water retention around his eyes as well, resulting in mildly swollen lids, heavier on lower lids. As long as the swell does not become worse, the Doctor won’t be alarmed by it. I have read the experiences of fellow GISTers around the world, swollen lower legs and eyelids are some common side effects. Since what dad has been experiencing is somewhat mild, we shall just monitor them. All in all, the results are good. The good news brought us great relief, including our Doctor. Therefore, the Doctor was pleased to advise that we should continue with Glivec. Thank God! Thank you, Dr Mellor!

At the pharmacy, the medication collection was much smoother than the fist time since the hospital has our records already. Many thanks to Max Foundation for their continuous effort and dedication in giving hope to Cancer patients around the world. My family and I feel most grateful.

As for his diabetes, Dad’s “report card” has consistently produced good results, even his Endocrinologist was happy with his achievement. I am so proud of him! I know he will make the effort to be well. The insulin works very well and his Doctor has decided to reduce the dosage for him, and he is now only required to do self-test once in three days! His Doctor was very happy with his self-control. He was reminded to take supper before going to be so to maintain more stable blood sugar level while he sleeps. Thank you, Dr SP Chan!

The next visit to his Oncologist and Endocrinologist shall be in two months time. The next CT Scan to monitor the tumour shall be in four months time. We are good with that.

My heartfelt thanks to all my friends, near and far, Facebook friends (especially MMPKs), for their warm wishes and prayers. The power of prayer and optimism spread so wide and strong, that we can feel the warmth and calmness enveloping us. I can’t thank you all enough. We feel so blessed. And, thank God for giving us strength and patience to face these challenges.

For me, as usual, I shall take a day at a time and be grateful for little and great improvements that come my way. If there is none, I’d still count my blessings for the people around me, in my life, who have never stopped caring, loving, and being happy for me. Deep down, I know that life will only get better and better.

Alice N.

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1st Month on Glivec

A week ago, dad went for an appointment with his oncologist. He had completed a month-course of Glivec. So far, he experienced swollen left foot which was sprained before. There was a slight swell on the right foot at the ankle. Dad said must be the long train ride the day before. I really want to hope so. Mom said when they are back home, the swell subsided to a slight one. Another observation is that ever since he started taking Glivec, he experiences leg cramps during sleep. It eases when he stretches the leg. Thank God, no other issues. Pray that his body is taking it well….

With the regular phone calls home, I will remind dad to prop up his feet when sitting down and sleeping. To continue to exercise regularly and do deep breathing exercise. However, when unwell, to let the body have total rest instead. Not to forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day, starting with a tall glass of water accompanying the medication. Coconut water is very good it seems! I do should like an old lady, don’t I?

Many people are unaware what GISTs are all about. In general, people associate cancer with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatments only. It was strange and still is, to hear some cancers can’t be treated via the aforesaid treatments, but oral medication, like in my dad’s case, a drug called Glivec (or Gleevec to some). For those who are unaware, I’ve quoted some links below for your further understanding.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) are rare cancers. About 900 people in the UK are diagnosed with a GIST each year. They are most common in people aged 50–60 and are rare in people younger than 40.

GISTs belong to a group of cancers called soft tissue sarcomas. Sarcomas are cancers that develop in the supporting or connective tissues of the body such as muscle, fat, nerves, blood vessels, bone and cartilage.

Most GISTs begin in the stomach or small bowel, but they can occur anywhere along the length of the digestive tract. The digestive tract is the hollow tube that runs from the gullet (oesophagus) to the anus (back passage).

The treatment for GIST depends on a number of factors, including your general health and the size and position of the tumour. The results of your tests will help your doctors decide on the best treatment for you.

Because GISTs are rare cancers, you should be referred for treatment at a specialist unit. You may have to travel to a hospital outside your area for this.

The most common treatment for GIST is surgery to remove the tumour. Drugs known as growth inhibitors are used to treat GISTs that can’t be removed with surgery.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy don’t work well for this type of cancer and so are not used.

Growth inhibitors are drug treatments that are taken as tablets. They work by blocking signals within the cancer cells that make them grow and divide.

In about 85% of people with a GIST, the tumour cells have a change (mutation) in a protein called KIT. This change means the GIST cells constantly get signals telling them to grow and multiply.

Treatment with growth inhibitors can block these signals. This may make the cancer shrink or stop it from growing. Growth inhibitors may be used to treat GISTs that can’t be completely removed with an operation. There are two that can be used to treat a GIST. These are imatinib (Glivec ®) and sunitinib (Sutent ®).

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) currently advises doctors on the use of new drugs and treatments in the NHS. It recommends that imatinib is used as the first treatment for people with a GIST that can’t be completely removed with surgery or has begun to spread. Treatment with imatinib is continued for as long as it is working.

Imatinib may sometimes be given to people who have had surgery to completely remove a GIST but who also have a high risk of the cancer coming back. Treatment that’s given to reduce the risk of cancer returning is called adjuvant therapy. This treatment has not been approved by NICE, which means that imatinib may not be widely available as adjuvant therapy for GIST in the NHS. Adjuvant therapy with imatinib has been approved for use in certain circumstances by The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) in Scotland.
(Source : http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertypes/Softtissuesarcomas/Typesofsofttissuesarcomas/GIST.aspx)

Through dad’s oncologist did we find out the existence of a foundation which has helped many people with cancers around the world. Treating cancer is not only expensive but a long dreadful emotional journey for the patient as well as the family members. It is most unfortunate for those who don’t have the financial capacity to seek better treatments for themselves. Thanks to Max Foundation, for the support and bringing hope to many cancer patients around the world. Following, read more about the Foundation. Who knows when it can bring light to someone’s life.

The Max Foundation is a global health organization that believes that all people living with cancer have the right to access the best treatment and support. Through personalized access services, quality training and education, and global advocacy efforts, we aim to help people face cancer with dignity and hope.
(Source : http://www.themaxfoundation.org )

I shall continue to keep a journal on my dad’s health condition and his treatment journey. I hope that by doing this, more people will get to know and understand GISTs and its treatment. It has been almost 2 months since the first time we sought consultation from various doctors and did several tests to finally get an official diagnosis.

I find that it is also helpful to join the GIST Support International (GSI) at Facebook, where patients and caregivers meet to share their experience and knowledge, worldwide. They are a group of understanding and supportive people. Some are GISTs survivors, some are still undergoing treatment and trials. My prayers go out to every one of them, patients and caregivers, alike.

I have also learnt that it is best to break the news to my parents instead of hiding the facts from them. That way, they will be more mindful of their daily diet, medication and maintain a healthier lifestyle. The most important thing is to develop strong immune system and be more optimistic.

At our next appointment, which is also two months into consuming Glivec, dad has to go through CT Scan to see if the drug works well for him. As long as the tumors remain as they are or seeing signs of decreasing in size and numbers, that would be great news for us. May I ask for your prayers, for my dad and for Glivec to work some wonders.

Thank you and God bless.

~ Alice N.

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My Birthday – Year 2014

Official annual birthday celebration has just passed. To me, it is just another day except that I do annual review of my life thus far. In the past, birthdays were big deals, where I must have my cake and candles to make wishes to and blow them out. These last few years, cake and candles were no longer important though sometimes dear hubby would buy a chocolate cake for me. No one else eat the cake in the family. Such a waste. Instead, I prefer to paste a picture of a lovely cake on my Whatsapp profile for the day. That should be good enough for me.

My favourite flowers to decorate my screen. So pleasant to look at. As a treat on my special day, I only did the things that I enjoy doing. Every year, I spent almost the whole day at the bookstores but not this year.

This year, after so many years, my parents were here with me on my birthday. Truly blessed. We had birthday lunch together, after accompanying dad to his doctor appointment in the morning. It was a special and meaningful day for us all.

What have I learnt, directly (personal experience or self discovery) and indirectly (learned from other’s experience), for the past 12 months as compared to the previous year? Am I any wiser? Let’s see….and here goes the list :

1) it is alright to be mean simply to be kind. Some people needs to be left alone to deal with his/her issues to learn from them. If at each trouble, we lend a hand and brain, issues resolved by us and not by them. It is no wonder they repeat the same mistakes over and over, hoping that someone will come to the rescue again and again. Nope, the bug stops right here. I have learnt to stop myself from getting into my rescue gear when I recognise the familiar pattern of wrongdoings by the persons. It is hard not to help but I kept telling myself that he/she has to “Deal with it!”.

2) blood means relative and may not necessarily mean family. I have bad experiences directly and indirectly, sad to say. It is bitter and painful to swallow. In our minds, we shall always have a beautiful family, extended family, etc. Family means harmony and vice versa. But, when it is put to the test, hardship always reveals how strong is your blood ties. This is when you see more clearly if your ties are relative or family. What is family? Love, care, loyalty, to name a few. Certainly not lip service nor running to hide when the going gets tough and tougher.

3) health is a continuous effort of caring for self well-being. You must have the desire to be well before you can adopt a healthy lifestyle. What is considered healthy? To my understanding, being healthy means eating balanced diet, breathing in more oxygen, smile more, laugh more, having sufficient deep sleep, working without procrastinating as last-minute rush causes mores stress, managing stress by keeping it at bay, not worrying too much, adopt a more positive life outlook, praying daily and so on. No amount of words can change a person until the person is willing to make the change. Health is not about taking care of body but the mind too. A strong mind plays an important role to a person’s well-being. What goes into the mind determines what you think, do and feel. So, be cautious of what we feed our mind. Give boosters like positive and happy thoughts. Mix around with the right people. Trust me, it is super hard to be positive when surrounded by negative people all day and night long. Eventually, when you can’t beat them, you end up joining them. Talk about peer pressure and influence.

4) be careful when selecting life partner/husband/wife. Our parents always remind us to marry the right person. The right person doesn’t have to mean someone who comes in wealth and looks. I see the right spouse/partner as being someone who makes you grow and be a better person than who you used to be. Someone to share a more meaningful life with. Where we encourage each other towards achieving mutual life goals. We are each other’s anchor and home base. Cross motivation is important in a growing marriage and expanding family. As for me, if I could turn back the clock, I’d still choose the same husband over and over again. He may not be perfect to the 10, he is someone whom I can trust and depend on. He may not meet my ideal criteria but I am not an ideal person either. We can accept our good and not so perfect qualities. We are always making sure that whatever we do it is all about “US” as a couple and family. For the good of the family and the people whom we come into contact with, who have treated us well. Why is the choice of life partner so important to one’s life? The partner has great influence, one way of the other, to either build you up or ruin you to pieces. I’ve seen it happening. Therefore, it is wise to be selective and trust your gut feelings when making that choice.

5) when situation gets tough, go back to basics. Then, re-look at the whole plan. Make necessary changes to suit the condition before moving forward again. In life, nothing is permanent. Not even a plan. We need to review when faced with obstacles, make changes if necessary, but keep the final goal in sight. There are times when we have no alternative but to abort the whole plan and start all over again. Embrace change. Please bear in mind that there is no short cut to success. Forget about get rich or instant success schemes. Don’t be fooled by such schemes that most often than not, lead you to serious troubles. Success requires patience and doing the right thing right. Seek a good and sincere mentor. Do not follow blindly. Keep a positive mindset and remain calm. Calmness allows us to think more clearly and rationally. When we react and make hasty decisions, we may end up worse off. That causes not mere misery but time wasted as well.

6) never be ashamed to seek help/support. We know where our limit lies. If we are too weak, too confused, too sad, in any situation which we ourselves can’t handle it alone, reach out. Whether to family members, friends or support groups. You never know how much better you’ll feel when you receive such moral support regardless from known persons or total strangers sharing the same situations, locally or internationally. The magic of sharing is so divine that it lifts your spirit, owing to endless wishes and prayers that come your way across the miles and continents. It is amazing to learn that people see no boundaries….no colours, religions, age, gender and nothing else to separate us all. We are just human beings per se, coming together to wish only the best to everyone who crosses our paths, offer our daily prayers, sharing of knowledge and similar experience or discoveries, offering words of comfort, virtual hugs flow in from all directions. It is most soothing to know we are not suffering alone. Most people are full of empathy and compassion! I felt that. I experienced that. I knew that. And, I shall keep the chain going around. What I have received, I shall also give out again to those who need the support when one is struggling, fighting to survive, feeling so alone and helpless, etc.

7) a plan remains a nice plan to look at when there is no action. We heard many tips about how to plan well, effective planning that works, don’t fail to plan, and many more. Well, planning is a good to-do-list item. What must follow immediately after drawing up a plan is ACTION. No action equals to no results. Having the intention to do something new or different is good. Having the right intention is awesome. So what? I have made several wonderful plans, but wishes and prayers alone won’t work. The lazy bones have to start acting before the plan takes effect. Procrastination is the thief of time. Very true! It also gives us more stress which is bad, bad, bad for the body and soul. Taking the first step, writing the first page is always, always difficult. But, once we get through the firsts, the rests would become easier and easier as we go along. Gotta get into the mood…if can’t get in, drive/speed into the mood, so to say (LOL!). The correct word is MUST! No more trying or doing my best. I must do it!

8) take time to say “thank you”. Many people often remind one another to apologise. There are even songs about apologies! I do agree that we must apologise when we do something wrong. Let’s not let a good gesture or deed past without saying “thank you”. Show gratitude to people who have taken time and effort to offer a helping hand or a kind word at time of distress, including gifts of love. Send a card, physical card or e-greeting card can do, or just say it. It is the thought that counts. Let me ask you, when someone says “thank you” to you, how do you feel? Feel good, isn’t it? Why not spread gratitude and smiles around? It doesn’t cost us much (if you are thinking of buying a card and postage). Do that to your family members, friends, teachers, doctors, bosses, associates, hosts, colleagues, good service providers, anyone and everyone who have done something good for you.

9) keeping a journal has its benefits. When angry, disappointed, sad or any negative feeling, we need an outlet for such emotions. If we don’t “bite our tongues” fast enough, we would end up breathing fire and shooting hurtful words to those close to us which we would regret later. Best to write in a journal. Pour your heart’s content onto the piece of paper. Once all are calm again, tear the pages out, then throw away (shred or burn them). If it is about something positive, keep a journal for a collection of self-development and achievement. When you are down, this journal will motivate you and pump positive boosters into your brains.

10) sharing something good is fine but do not preach and insist your good practice/belief/life principles on others. When something wonderful happened to us, it is only natural to share with others. We love to share good stuffs with our loved ones because we care deeply for them. No harm in that but do be mindful that sharing has its limit. Do not preach endlessly or insist your practice or belief on others. Please understand that for the person to take your advice and follow your footsteps, or not at all, it is entirely up to him/her. Let’s not make a relationship or friendship more complicated.

I always believe that living on this earth has its purpose. Our purpose is to live a meaningful life and then, share what we have with others, hopefully making others live their lives as meaningful as ours, if not more. Not all of us can afford to give out money to make others’ lives better. But, what most of us can do, which is even more magical that money, is to feed the soul. Advice, encouragement, motivation, hugs, moral support, prayers, our time to do something for others are some of the wonderful gifts we can give to others. Small gestures do make a big difference. So, don’t wait for the right time to perform big gesture. The right time is now, no matter how small it is. It may be not so meaningful it the giver but it could mean a world to the receiver.

That is the update for being one year older for me. What about you? What have you learnt over the past 12 months? Make it a point to do review to track your self-development on your birthday. It is a way to find out how well you have done over the year, or not so well and therefore, buck up and do something for a change. On jobs, we have job performance review at the end of the year or half-yearly. Why not for our self-development? Start doing it at your next birthday!

My best wishes go out to my wonderful, loyal readers. Thank you for taking time off to read my posts. I hope it touches your life one way or another to make a small difference for the better. Cheers!

~ Alice N.

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Posted in My Tea Room | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dad’s Health Journal

I decide to create a new category in my blog, specially dedicated to a great man, my father. This shall be his health journal. I shall update his progress here, sharing with my wonderful readers, the journey dad would be taking in treating his condition.

Dad was a planter all his career life. He successfully managed rubber and oil palm plantation, from his first estate to the following, till he retired. His skills and knowledge are greatest assets to any planter. Till today, he still can remember very clearly the processes involving seeding to replanting to harvesting and so on.

Beginning of July 2014, out of the blue mom told me that dad has been losing appetite and weight ever since Father’s Day. She didn’t want to tell me much earlier for fear I’d be worried sick. Whenever I called them, they sounded their usual self. His blood sugar shot up too. His occasional nose bleeds, more like spotting I was told. Dad said he saw the local ENT but they couldn’t find anything wrong with the nose. Something was amiss but I didn’t know what. My gut feelings told me that he needs proper medical examination without any further delay.

The list of examinations started from 7/7/2014. Less than 2 weeks to his birthday. I was glad that dad managed to see Dr SP Chan of SJMC. Her calendar was full. I tried asking for an appointment but to no avail. I went into the medical centre online appointment and wrote the reasons for such urgency for this appointment to be on 7/7/2014. I was so relieved that someone from the calling centre called me on a Saturday evening to speak to me in response to that online submission.

Dr Chan discovered a few things from the blood test, x-Ray and ultrasound on the chest and liver. She immediately referred dad to a renowned gastroenterologist. Thank God, Dr Yin advised dad to see him early the next morning. Meanwhile, dad was put on insulin and change of Blood Pressure (BP) medicine. Ms Yong, a consultant at the diabetes care was so patient and kind. She briefed us about cause and effect of diabetes, then taught mom and dad on the use of insulin. This was something very foreign to us. Mom kept asking if he could do without the insulin. I consoled her that if he could, the good doctor would have prescribed it. Let us follow the doctor’s advice and act accordingly. I’m sure dad’s condition will become better under the care of Dr Chan.

The following morning, another blood test was called for. Dr Yin ordered for a CT Scan in next morning. In the meantime, we were all cheering dad on for the insulin and blood sugar self-tests. These things were new to him and being clumsy at them was only natural. I could see he painstakingly try to hide his anxiety and frustration from us. For all the medical exams that needed fasting, I fasted together with him. That was the most I could do to share his discomforts. I wished that I could cast them away and put things right again. But, that’s impossible. So instead, I shall pray to Almighty God for serenity, courage, strength and patience. I have to be strong for the family.

Following the CT Scan, dad had to returned for endoscope. I could feel mom and dad were getting more and restless and anxious by the day. I kept reminding him not worry about anything else except to take care of himself following doctors advice. We shall soldier on, one way or another. I am sure when there is a will, there is a way. At time like this, I am most grateful for my husband. He has been the pillar of strength throughout the whole process. He made mom and dad felt more relaxed with his constant assurance.

From the endoscope results, dad was referred to an Oncologist. As I was still concerned about dad’s nose bleed, Dr Yin referred us to an ENT specialist, Dr Puravi. Another wonderful doctor. He introduced neti pot to us. I read about the benefits of neti potting some years back. I was most glad to know more now.

Our meeting with Dr Matin, the Oncologist was another pleasant encounter. Again, thanking our stars and thank God for letting us meet all the wonderful doctors at time like this. Doctor indicated the condition as GISTs. The mass seen in the liver showed the spread of the tumours from the stomach. However, we had to wait for the IHC report for any treatment to be prescribed. Highly likely via a drug called Gleevec (or, Glivec) if the type of GISTs matches. Just yesterday, I went to see Dr Matin for the IHC report. It was confirmed GISTs and the type which can receive Gleevec. That was one good news, I guess. Hopefully, dad’s tumour would respond to the drug and tumours shrunk. We shall see the doctor again in a month’s time to check how he responds to the medication.

For now, we skip around the C word. We do not want to scare mom, if she hasn’t known as much. I need her to be her normal self. No point getting upset or being pessimistic about the whole issue. Dad needs more positive energy around him and I would very much like to keep it that way. You know, mind over body. Moreover, we have the medication and a good doctor with us. There is always hope.

To sum it all up, thank you SJMC and all those great doctors mentioned herein. Not to forget those hardworking support staffs who make all things bearable, with as simplest gesture as an understanding and consoling smile. Smiles were readily exchanged along the corridor, clinics, cashiers…..everywhere!

Thank you so very much!

~ Alice N.

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