Seoul-ful Adventure


After so many years of watching K-dramas and dreaming of going to Korea, we finally got the chance to fly in for a 4-day weekend getaway. The AirAsia Premium Flatbed was a comfort for an almost 7-hour flight. Finally, arrived @ Incheon International Airport. Well decorated, systematic and you’d be pleasantly surprised to listen to recorded home-language greeting when you presented your passport at the immigration. 


I was delighted to discover that we could choose to take a limousine bus to our hotel. I’ve always preferred moving around with public transport like the train, bus or simply walking if the distance isn’t too far. Walking around the city is the best! We’ll get to see more by walking and exploring the streets. 


The public limo bus was rather spacious and clean inside. A 50-minute ride from airport to the hotel, and they offered mags to read too! Relieved to see that there was always someone standing by to help load the bags and unload them upon arrival. It stopped right at the hotel. How convenient! 

Checking in was smooth. We were shown to a waiting lounge while waiting for our turn to check-in.

The room at the new wing was spacious. Just nice and cosy for the 3 of us. Simply lovely! The children, as always, would enjoy the bubble bath. Off to Lush for supplies!


Mainly, we explored the streets in Myeongdong, Namdaemun market and Namsan N Tower. All within walking distance. Boy, did we go crazy over the cosmetics shops! Another place to grab for foodstuffs would be the Lotte mart. Lots of snacks and everything was delicious!


The weather was so lovely. Sunny, windy and cold. Temperature was around 15degC to below 10 at night. Windy throughout the day and night. Our noses, ears and hands were freezing. Eyes and lips drying. However on the day of our departure, it showered in the early morning and then cloudy with temperature at 8degC in the afternoon.

I liked the foodcourts here. The whole exercise was : Select your food and pay at the cashier. We’re given the buzzer. Collect the food at the stall and after eating, return the food tray to the respective stall. There’s a drinking water station with sterilized cups and it’s complimentary. The floor attendants would wipe the tables ensuring everyone returned their trays and throw rubbish into the bins provided for. That’s great isn’t it? Wish it’s done the same way in my home country. 

If you can’t speak Korean, there is still chance of “survivorship” here. Mandarin is widely spoken in retail shops, restaurants and by stall operators. If you speak neither languages, like me, then there’s going to be an issue. Fortunately, I had my children with me. They became my translators (Mandarin – English) and in exchange I was their banker (LOL!). 

It was a wonderful weekend well-spent. Not long enough to explore more places in Seoul, but just nice to satisfy my curiosity. I had a fabulous experience, especially the food! Now, back home. Rain greeted us when we landed. Temperature at 20degC. Nice! Next, need to exercise to burn the excess weight….oh noooo! 

Back to work and school/classes for children. Gonna be busier than usual as I’m left with just this month to complete my cases or handover those W.I.P. ones before I leave the firm for good. 

Just before we flew back home, the children said to me, “Mom, no more weekend getaway or flying for a while, ok?”….but my traveling engine has just warmed up! Oh boy!
Cheers,

AliceN.

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GISTs

Those who have been following my blog will know that Dad was diagnosed with GISTs back in July 2014, about 2 weeks before his birthday. Many people have not heard of GISTs and those who have, wonder if it is cancer after all. Treatment for GISTs is different from other cancers and there is no staging to measure its condition.

What is GISTs? Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors are the most common mesenchymal neoplasms of the gastrointestinal tract. they are defined as tumors whose behaviour is driven by mutations in the KIT gene. Most (66%) occur in the stomach and gastric GISTs have a lower malignant potential than tumors found elsewhere in the GI tract. (ref : wikipedia)

Treatment wise, it is different from the regular cancers. Radiotherapy has not historically been effective with GISTs and GISTs do not respond to most chemotherapy medications. However, 3 medications have been identified for clinical benefit in GISTs : Imatinib, Sunitinib (Sutent) and Regorafenib (Stivarga). Imatinib (Glivec/Gleevec), an orally administered drug initially marketed for chronic myelogenous leukaemia is useful in treating GISTs in several situations.(ref : wikipedia)

Dad has been showing improvement all these while, visits to the Oncologist has been lengthened to 4 monthly, CT Scan every 6-9 months to monitor the tumor. Great news is, his diabetes has stabilised. The surge in his blood sugar back in 2014 must be due to the GISTs. Now, he is back on oral medication. Gone were the insulin jabs. Thank God.

The CT Scan last month showed that the tumor remained in size. Though the size has reduced to safety level for surgery removal, Dad can’t undergo that because he has lesions in the liver and some parts of lymph nodes. So far, all these are controlled by the Glivec, meaning Glivec is working on them. Seems like Dad has to continue with Glivec for as long as possible since surgery is not an option for his condition.

I am so grateful that Dad is still going strong, taking it positively and exercising daily to keep himself as healthy as possible. I insist upon him to go travelling overseas at least once a year. It is good for my parents to go away from home once in a while. Holidaying without any concerns except to walk, eat and sleep. Enjoy the sceneries and experience different environment while interacting and making new friends. What is most rewarding is to see their happy faces upon returning from each holiday. That is priceless!

I can’t thank Max Foundation enough. I know I have been doing that over and over again. If you were to be in my shoes, you would too. Max Foundation has made expensive treatment becomes more affordable, giving the patients a chance to recovery or continue living. Long term treatment is no joke. Not just financial stress, it is also an emotional journey and it demonstrates how a family stick together to go through it for the long haul or fall apart. Let us hope more families will choose to stick it out together.

I admire Dad for his determination to fight it and be well. I’m proud of Mom for being strong for Dad and be his primary caregiver. More of great companionship and keeping him busy. Much thanks to my brothers who have been keeping in touch with them with constant visits, taking them on short trips and frequent telephone calls. It’s a family thing and that is what we do to stay together at all times, through ups and downs, laughter, fears and tears.

I continue to pray for my parents’ good health, peace in their minds and happiness. Just enjoy life! Cheers, Dad and Mom!

~ AliceN.

 

 

 

 

 

14th Month into Glivec


Three months had passed since the last CT Scan. Recent meeting on 17th September, with the Onco was just for a chat and to get to know how dad has been doing the last three months. Glad to say that dad is doing well. Weight maintained. Blood test results look rather alright, doctor isn’t concerned about the slight difference in one or two numbers. The brittle nails have recovered except for one, the right forefinger. Dad will continue to apply homemade coconut oil onto it and other nails as maintenance. Considering dad’s improved condition, Dr Mellor says that it is not necessary for us to meet as often. The next visit shall be in four months’ time in mid January 2016.

The visit to the endocrinologist, Dr Chan was great! Blood test results are good especially his blood sugar. Perfect! His regular home-kit test results showed a couple of low readings (tested two hours after lunch). Dr Chan reduces the insulin dosage but encourages dad to do what he has been doing all along, i.e. the exercise, 7 small meals, etc. She further advises dad to stay longer during the next visit because she intends to revert dad to taking tablets. For that, she needs to monitor his progress every two days once he stops his insulin injection. This is excellent news for dad! Let us pray and hope that blood test results will show as good report so that dad can revert to tablets. No more insulin injection! I know he suffers, especially the initial several months. He had never injected himself before; was anxious and clumsy. Thank you, God for answering to his and our prayers.

Bravo to dad! He is serious about getting well and therefore, has the discipline to follow strict routine. I can always count on dad. He knows very well how I feel and he does not wish for me to be worried for him. Thank you dad, for feeling better, for being strong for yourself, mom and us.


Not forgetting, we owe it to the Max Foundation
. Without the Max Foundation, it would be much tougher for us to follow through with the treatment. We are most grateful to Dr Mellor and the Max Foundation. The Max Foundation is a global health organisation; firmly believes that all people living with cancer have the right to access the best treatment and support. Thank you!

Regardless whether you are a cancer patient or a caregiver, it is important to join a good support group. No one else can understand what you are going through as well as those who are in the same boat as you. There are many over the social media. I am a member of the GIST Support International (GSI) group in Facebook. Members are mostly GIST patients, and fellow caregivers. At GSI, everyone is supportive of one another. We share our experience and knowledge. The community also shares fears and concerns. Members are from all over the world. We are one and we are family. We continuously receive news, information as well as virtual hugs and cheers within this group. We share good and bad news freely. We send wishes and prayers throughout the globe, for those in need. Love is all around. And we hold dearly to our Purple Ribbon with much hope. Thank you, fellow Gisters! Love you all!

My dearest readers, if upon reading this, you feel deeply for the Gisters, please offer your prayers to them. 🙏🏻Thank you and God bless.
~ Alice N.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

  To all mothers in the world, Happy Mother’s Day to you. Specially dedicated to my Mom, Godmom, sisters-in-law, relatives and friends. 

  This was sent by my son first thing in the morning on my Facebook timeline, knowing I love fast cars but with quiet engines. Don’t think I fancy  “announcing” my arrivals as I prefer to arrive quietly…he knows me so well! Love you, son. Also to my sweet daughter for her heart-warming Mother’s Day message. Not forgetting my darling hubby for being supportive of my causes and much more. That means a lot to me. We make one great team! I feel so blessed…

I didn’t know anything about being mothers before I became one. As teenagers, almost all of us found our moms to be naggy, the one who always stood in between us and what we wanted. Their favorite word, (amazing how all mothers were alike in this) was “NO!”. Most of the time our favourite things got confiscated. We believed that moms have another pair of eyes behind their heads; and that they put us under secret surveillance because they knew things even though they weren’t there! These are from a teenager’s point of view, at least in my mind when I was a teenager.

When I first became a mom, with the arrival of my firstborn some 17.5 years ago, I learned what it actually meant to carry the title “MOM”. Boy, if you take it lightly, you’re going to feel the weight of unspoken fear and self-doubts when something knocks you off your feet and fall into a bottomless pit. You’ll know what “Helpless” and “Hopeless” really really mean. If you think life is tough, try being a MOM. I guess MOMs are the ones who say prayers the most, not for themselves but for the well-being of their children, especially.  How true the statement goes. I didn’t know what I could do and how much I had to deal with until I stepped into the shoes of being a mother. No parenting or motherhood books could prepare you for the role. There is not one operation manual or standard operating procedure (SOP) guide book or advice from good meaning fellow mothers that could make you fully prepared to face the days of motherhood. It is a hands-on experienced only.

There may be some similarities but each baby or child is unique in his/her own way. Having my two beautiful children testified and endorsed that. Both children have some similar habits and behavior but that do not mean one method works for both. There are many trials and errors…after almost 18 years, I am still on this learning journey. It’s a long haul, lifelong commitment. There is no particular way and certainly not enough time to perfect being a mother because the landscape keeps changing as the children grow older. 

I thought as they grow, I would become closer to being an expert in motherhood but was I wrong! I’m still learning like an intern in each phase of motherhood. Now both are at teen age. I found that boy teenager and girl teenager are different in many ways. Cross referencing doesn’t quite work. It is like a totally new chapter altogether, not even a sub-topic! Life is filled with surprises, isn’t it? I guess that is the secret of looking younger than your age (LOL!)

Having said that, amidst the challenges, I am also blessed to go through life seeing my babies grow up. They have enriched my life, makes me grow as well. Besides being responsible for myself and my wonderful husband, I have to be mindful too for the sake of my children. How I act, speak and do things will reflect on them. Children see and model us one way or another, if not now, later in age. Don’t forget that. 

So, parents… don’t use this line, “you can’t/don’t do it” when you yourselves are doing it. If you feel you can do it due to whatever valid reasons, please explain to make them understand why they can’t. Failing to do so will make them confused, which turns it into curiosity to try it out. Then, they might do it behind your back. We have to practise some degree of transparency and democracy with children of today. They are getting smarter and they understand better than we did when we were their age. Educate them properly. Expose them to some freedom while they are still under our wings so to give us chance to guide them when the need arises. Be not afraid to explore new territories with your children or to speak to them at the same level as you. In turn, you’ll discover that they will respect you more.  We must recognize that we all learn through mistakes and lessons and so do they.

I can’t help but to feel proud of myself that I have come this far whenever I look into the faces of my children. I continuously share our family values with them and hope that they will live through it and then, spread it to their own families and so forth. 

Finally, Mothers, go out and celebrate being a MOM and enjoy motherhood, lock stock and barrel (LOL!). Happy Mother’s Day to all! 
Cheers,

~ Alice N.

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.

My Birthday – Year 2014

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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.

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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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Dad’s Health Journal

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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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Blessed Birthday, Darling

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Celebrating your birthday for the 19th time, I wish you dreams come true and may all your wishes be granted. A simple man at heart but with big dreams, I’m with you all the way, my wonderful husband!

We are what you called “opposite attracts” kind of couple. We planned our marriage more than our wedding as we knew then, wedding is only for a day but marriage is forever…well, we’d like to keep it forever. As we go through the many years of life challenges and continuously striving to build a lovely, safe and cosy nest for our little family, we have also learnt so much that we compromise and come to share common life goals. We work as a team towards the same direction in life.

Life being life, it is never constant nor is it always so rosy. We had turbulence, storm and rain sometimes but these we know will pass and make us stronger. It is not uncommon in any marriage.

The man I had chosen to marry and the darling whom I’ve grown to love more and more, I am so glad to be celebrating his birthday with him together with our wonderful children and our best buddy who is more like a brother to us.

Happy Birthday, my darling husband and here’s wishing you the best that life has to offer to you! May you be blessed with continuous good health and happiness. Growing up, you have gone through so much of hardship, yet you never give up. Instead, you bulldozed through and come up being a champion! You are a survivor and ever since we share our lives together, you have me and the kids now. We shall be by your sides always and go through life’s ups and downs with you. I shall hold tightly to your hands and never let go. You shall never have to be alone again, my love.

Cheers!

~ Alice N.

Happy 76th Birthday, Father!

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My father is 76 years old today. Happy Birthday, dearest father! Wishing you continuous good health and may your days be filed with happiness and laughter always. I love you, Dad!

For those of you who have read my past posts about my dad and on Father’s Day, you’ll know him better. You can say that he was my first mentor with whom I learned to be independent, about decision-making, management, leadership, kindness, generosity, selflessness, gratitude, forgiveness and many more, since I was 6 years old (that is how far back I could remember vividly). He set a firm foundation for me to stand on and walk with two feet planted firmly on the ground. I am who I am partly because of the “early grooming” by my dad.

For the past weeks, dad hasn’t been well. He is not the usual strong and active man I have always known. Putting on a brave front, he painfully makes himself look OK. We could see that something wasn’t quite right. When I asked, he would leisurely brushed my concern aside and told me not to worry my little head off. His doctors said he was fine. I doubt that.

I insisted and got him to agree to have himself checked out by doctors of my choice. I thank God for letting us meet with all the great doctors. Wherever we went, we were greeted by friendly, helpful and kind doctors, nurses and other ground staffs. Hats off to Ramsay Sime Darby Medical Centre.

Being a strong-willed and independent man, he would mask any discomfort he felt so that mom, my brothers, nephew and I won’t be worried. I know that he is not used to feeling weak like this. I’m sure it is not easy for him to reverse the roles; to be taken care of now instead of him taking care of us. Let me caution you….If you ever bumped into my dad and I, you will spot an elderly man carrying shopping basket/bag walking next to his adult daughter. If he can help it, he will not allow me to carry any basket or bag at all (LOL!). That is my dad. To him, I shall always be his little girl.

Happy Birthday, Dearest Dad! I pray to Almighty God and the Universe that he continues to be positive and strong no matter what life serves to him. On his birthday, I wish that he will be blessed with better health and live well. Dad is a wonderful person with a beautiful heart. He never fails to bring laughter and joy to people around him, young and old. He is a charming gentleman. He deserves life’s best and I am more than willing to pamper him as much as he has been pampering me, if not more.

Dad, let me be the pillar for you to lean on when you are tired. Let me shower you with life’s best and spoil you with love. Let me share your worries, pain, sadness and fear, if any. Let me take over the driver’s seat while you sit next to me enjoying the ride and scenery. Let me carry the burden and lighten the weight on your shoulders. Though we live miles apart, you will always be in my thoughts and prayers. I shall always be there when you need me. You can always count on me, Dad, rain or shine.

HAPPY 76TH BIRTHDAY, DEAREST FATHER! I LOVE YOU….

~ Alice N.


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WOMEN AND FINANCE

This is all about women. WOMEN……for men reading this, you love them and sometimes hate them, don’t you? For women reading this, sit up and pay attention. This is important and I want to stress on it again this new year, 2014!

Simply put, it’s about women and money. True, money isn’t everything, but mind you, everything is money. Ask anyone on the street! You can’t literally move to do things without involving money. Time is money – the opportunity cost. I posted before about Financial Planning for Women. In it, I mentioned that most women would at one point in time, be single (again). It could be by choice (stay single, unmarried), divorced or being a widow. The stats recorded that women tend to live longer (than their husbands).

Having said that, wouldn’t women need money to be self-sufficient to last them their lifetime? Married women need to plan as if they are single. Don’t take it for granted that your husband is your retirement plan. He is NOT! If he is, that would be a bonus. Congrats! For now, take it as “NOT”, so plan ahead, solo.

Women, most often than not, would be sandwiched between young, growing family and ageing parents. Taking care of parents’ needs do not only involve time, but money too. Medical expenses, special diet, holiday, etc. Understanding women, they would rather use their own funds to pay for all these, instead of asking from their spouse. Parents are our own responsibility. Of course, no smart women would refuse the generosity of a spouse, to display respect and love for their in-laws.

Then, comes the issue of children’s higher education, the college and/or university fees. Parents always want the best for their children, including or especially education. In most families, our gift as parents to our beloved children would be the “golden key” to achieving financial freedom, and that “golden key” is none other than “Education”. We believe in not serving fish for the kids to eat but to provide them with basic tools to fish for themselves. We firmly believe that education opens doors to better and more secured future. It creates more options for one to choose. Therefore, most parents would strive to save as much for their children’s education. Funding them for as long as they are still studying.

However, if the choice is between children’s education and your retirement, woman, brace yourself and choose your retirement. Why? If you do not have sufficient fund for his/her education, there are other sources. There are study loans available, scholarships, or perhaps, he/she could work part-time. However, if you decide to save for children’s education and left with insufficient fund for own retirement, may I ask, where would be the source of funding for you? Live on charity? Now, do you see my point?

Women are known to take better care of people around them than themselves, especially their loved ones. Where the loved ones are concerned, there is always a bit more energy left, a bit more money spared, there is always time (just take away the me-time, tea time, short rest, even sleep)….the list goes on. It is amazing where they get all the energy from! They work so hard and still able to smile. Please don’t hate them but cherish them.

Men, now this is your part. Encourage your wife, daughter, sister, friends to plan for themselves, for a better tomorrow. If not, YOU better plan well for them. Which, I don’t think you would do or do so well. So, encourage them to seek knowledge or professional advice in financial planning. It is never too early nor too late to plan. Just do it now.

I hope to see more women be financial savvy this new year. Read and understand personal FINANCE. Know what you want and plan to achieve that goal. Dare to dream. You deserve to enjoy life after contributing so much during the earlier years. After planning, act upon it. It is alright to start slow or baby steps as long as you get started. As time goes, as you get more and more familiar with it, you’ll pick up pace and be more daring. Finance may be boring or even scary for some. Face it and you’ll soon realize that there isn’t anything to be afraid of, other than an insecure future, an empty nest for your golden years without planning.

~ Alice N.


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