Healthy Food is as Delicious!

Each time when I told my children about “healthy food” or “organic food”, their faces go “ewwww”! Why do we have this perception that healthy foods are tasteless? Hmm….let’s check it out.

My recent adventure was to this cafe nestle well away from main roads, a row of shoplots in a residential area. 


Medifoods is a chain of restaurants, retail outlets and lifestyle cafes. The one I visited was in SS18, Subang Jaya, Selangor (Malaysia). Branches of Medifoods can be found in SS2 (I googled it) and Subang Jaya Medical Centre. We all know that foods in hospitals usually don’t suit our tastebuds. Glad Medifoods is there! 

Medifoods has an inhouse nutritionist to offer nutritional advice, sale of a good range of organic dry products, household items, toiletries, beverages and vegetables. I learnt that they do catering services too.


The cafe serves mixed or economy rice.  The spread, kept warm by hot water and an electric heater below, consists of 10 to 12 troughs of cooked food, including vegetables, eggs tofu and chicken. Customers select any combination of these cooked dishes, which are served accompanied by a portion of steamed white rice and an individual bowl of soup. All for just RM12.80 per serving.

Besides, one can also order from the ala carte menu. They have appetizer, entree, dessert and hot and cold beverages. Vegan and non-vegan foods. 

Since I wanted to have a vegetarian lunch, I ordered the Nasi Lemak (traditionally fragrant white rice cooked in coconut milk served with condiments) and a glass of hot home-made soy milk.  Mine looked like this….


Lovely to look at and tasted yummy too! The rice was cooked with some herbs. So was the “sambal” – hot chili pepper sauce. Next, I ordered the “chai kueh”, steamed vegetable dumpling. Love the texture and taste. However, I wish they had used the original dumping chilli sauce, which will enhance the taste of the dumpling. The one served tasted more like the chili sauce for chicken rice.

If you were to drive there, remember not to park at the shoulder of the roads. Your cars will be towed away by the city council officers. That will make the meal a very pricey one. 

Try it out, if you are around these areas. 

Cheers,

~ Alice N.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

11th Month into Glivec

The time has come for Dad to go for another CT Scan. Silently, we pray for positive results. Dad has been doing well. Keeping himself healthy by exercising every morning, weather permitted and also eating well. He eats 7 small meals a day due to his insulin injection and to keep the blood sugar reading under control. One oat drink before setting out for his morning walk, a bowl of noodles after his walk and snacking on some biscuits/bread at mid morning; lunch, tea, dinner and supper. So far so good that his endocrinologist fully supports his diet.

On 22nd June, mom and I accompanied dad to the hospital. He is now familiar with the procedure that he is fully at ease with it. I’m glad. The results were out in the afternoon. We eagerly proceeded to the Oncologist’s room. We are most pleased to hear that the tumour size has reduced so do the lesions in the lungs. These are the two critical areas.

Dr Mellor informed that should we wish to consider surgery to remove the tumour, we can do so now that it has shrunk to about 2 cm. I asked if dad would still need to take his Glivec post surgery….and he said most likely because there are areas still with lesions present, especially the liver. We may have to continue with Glivec to keep the others under control. Dad declined the idea as he still needs to consume Glivec. Dad is confident that the tumour will further reduce in size with Glivec. Dr Mellor agreed with him based on his age and overall health condition. Dr Mellor is happy with the scan results. Words can’t describe my joy upon hearing the news. I thank God for His blessings and watching over my dad.

The visit to the Endocrinologist was a good one too. Dr Chan was very happy with dad’s blood sugar control. She voiced a little concern over a couple of low readings. Dad’s insulin injection in the morning shall remain but with at a reduced dosage and taking the same prescribed tablet after dinner. Blood test result was excellent.

This is another successful visit to the hospital. I feel so light and happy to know that dad’s progressing well. I can see on the faces of my parents that they are glad that their hard work paid off. I know it isn’t easy to keep our heads held high despite fears, worries and concerns in our mind. Bravo, dad and mom!

The following visit shall be in 3 months’ time, merely consultation. Dr Mellor doesn’t like to repeat CT Scan in a short span of time to avoid over-exposure to radiation. It is not good for anybody more so for a weaker body.

Dad has been on Glivec for almost a year. Looking back, this one year has been most eventful, with the first 5 months being the scariest of all. It was emotionally  draining too. I can’t imagine how mom went through it everyday as the primary caregiver. I can only imagine dad’s fear in facing such situation while trying to protect his loved ones from worrying more. I guess it took a toll on mom when mom was admitted for suspected heart attack, 3 months after dad’s diagnosis She went through tests after tests. Relieved washed over us when we were told she is OK. She was prescribed with smaller dosage of aspirin as a preventive measure. Her condition will be monitored by the local hospital.

I feel that having a family member contracting cancer is the last thing one would expect to happen. It is the worst news for anyone. The first few things that cross people’s minds would be the pain, course of treatments and financials. Thinking back, while I was sad upon hearing the diagnosis from the Dr, I had to keep a brave front for my parents and brothers. Armed with positive mindset I tried to instil the same optimism to both of them especially mom, who is a worrywart. I preached about team work, emphasising that it is treatable, there is always hope. The battle is dad’s but we must stand by him to cheer him on. Mom has to watch over his food too. I read up books on cancer survivors and about GISTs. I opened a medical file and add a health journal on this blog.

Created support group within the family, I roped in my younger brother to spend more time with them and to watch for any sign of small ailments, whatsoever. I am most grateful to him and my sis-in-law for being around my parents. Thanks to the twins (brothers) who will speak to them from afar once in a while. With most children living separately and distant away, it is important to keep in touch to let them know they’re thought of and also to let them listen to our voices. My parents are most understanding when we can’t meet as often as we wanted to.

I can say now that we had gone through the worst together. Nonetheless, we still need to continue doing the right thing…i.e. daily exercise, eating well, positive thinking and enjoy life. Life is short. Let us live our daily lives the way it should be..happy, contented and meaningful.

Thank you my friends, for your prayers and wishes for my dad.

Cheers,

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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It’s All in Your Mind.

Recently, I received quite a number of health-related emails from friends. You are what you eat, manage your stress before it’s too late, see the doctor – early detection saves lives, go organic, etc.

There is this ongoing dispute on wealth vs health. People said that if you don’t have money to put food on the table, what health are you talking about?! Hmmmm…..make sense. Another side of people said if you have money, so what, you are so ill that you can’t enjoy even a single cent of it. Hmmmm….also true!

Having said that, am I allowed to choose the middle path? Yes, I recognize that we need money to keep our lives normal, but while doing that, I also watch what I eat as much as I possibly can (I do sometimes indulge in my fave ice-cream, creme brulee, cheese cakes, Goreng Pisang, nyonya kuih, etc); Pay attention to how my body responds to certain food (too spicy food, these days, give me heart burn, esp during late dinner); how my body changes – due to age (can’t lift heavy stuffs due to my tennis elbows, can’t sit/stand for too long or they give me acute back-ache).

When I feel the slightest change to my body, which gives me the nagging feeling, I’d seek out my doctor for advice. I truly believe that when you listen closely to your body, you might feel small changes which is out of norm. It would usually give you tell-tale sign of it’s condition. You may say that I’m over-acting, but I do what is best to be healthy, so that i can take great care of myself and my family. Being sick is not an option especially when you have a young family and when they need you to be there, 24/7. Another important reason why I keep myself well is for that one day, when I no longer need this body, I sure hope that parts of it would be able to save others’ lives.

Most of us, especially when we are so busy tackling our daily work issues, we are quick to dismiss any signs given out by our exhausted body. We don’t give rest to our mind and body. We do not give them peace and calmness for the break which they needed most. Sadly, we continue to abuse our once strong body when we are quite aware of it’s weakening condition. One after another ailments start popping up. When you see these signs, I would urge you to pause for a while and think for a minute (not going to take much time anyway) what you could do NOW to make it better.

Does it need a break to recharge so that you can come back refreshed and with renewed energy to tackle issues more efficiently? Does it have to do with your diet – which you need to make a slight change to gain a big difference? Does it need exercise – make time for it, 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day is good enough if you don’t have much time to spare. When you have the will, you’ll find a way to achieve it. It would not make any difference to have an impressive plan but no action.

It is time to beat the laziness and no-time attitude in your bones and mind. Start on the ACTION – Right Here, Right Now.

Cheers to a healthier YOU!

~ Alice N.

Early Stage Critical Illness

Like flowers, Life is also impermanent.

Many people lack the understanding of how their Critical Illness (CI) policies work. General perception is that, once you are diagnosed with a critical illness (e.g. cancer, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, etc), you can start claiming from your CI policy. If you think so, you’ll be very disappointed because most CI insurance only cover cases of CI at severe stage; diagnosis at early stage is not entitled for any CI claim. It pays to read the definitions in your policy document, which clearly describe each and every one condition qualified for claims.

For those who have such experience, directly (survivors) or indirectly (family members), you would agree that treating a critical illness needs a lot of money because it is considered long-term care,  from months to years, perhaps. The medical bills are not cheap at all, because of special procedure being carried out, usage of special techniques or machines, medication, etc.

When a critical illness policy is effected, the finances received could be used to pay for :

  • costs of the care and treatment (e.g. therapies, medication);
  • recuperation aids (e.g. motorised bed, braces)
  • debts and household expenses (e.g. loans, credit card debts, education fees);
  • any lost income due to a decreasing ability to work (e.g. unpaid leave)
  • a change in lifestyle (e.g. supplements, special diet).

Now that you have understood the functions of a CI insurance policy, you would be wondering about conditions which don’t fall under “severe or critical” but the early stages of CI, like for cancer, Carcinoma-In-Situ. We all know that the earlier we seek treatment, the higher the probability of survivorship. Yes, your Hospitalisation and Surgical insurance would provide cover for the surgical/treatment bill charges. Upon discharge, besides the follow-up treatments and medication, people would usually take vitamins, herbs or other supplements for speedier recovery process, start on special diet which would be costlier than usual. This is when the Early Stage CI policy kicks in to provide the fund to pay for all the needs.

The recent few months, we see positive change in the insurance industry landscape. A few insurers have been innovative in coming up with policies to cover for early CI stages. I must applaud them for taking pro-active steps to fill the gap of Medical and Health insurance. Why I said gap is because, hospitalisation and surgical insurance pays for medical bills but not medical related support (travelling costs, medical “accessories” – wheel chair, crutches, braces, etc); CI policies pays only for severe cases (definitions clearly stated in policy document). The Early Stage CI functions as the “in-between”, to provide fund to pay for the medical related support and less severe case (definitions clearly stated in the policy clauses).

And yes, if you like, you can do without it too. As long as you have a ‘sinking fund‘ put aside for such emergencies. Otherwise, insurance is the only product you can buy at a very large discounted price. If you were to use your sinking fund, it would be a Ringgit to a Ringgit. So, in life, when it comes to financial protection, the only tool available with much advantage is Insurance.

My advice is that before you get a medical/health insurance, always ask about what is not covered as opposed to what is covered, waiting period, exclusions, other limitations and claim procedure. You need to understand that before you sign on the dotted lines. I’m sure you would prefer to get something you can count on.

In my practice, I would take that extra time to understand my client’s needs, identify any possible loophole in their current financial security, before coming up with proposed solutions, if any. Whatever I proposed, I always give them options to choose from. Prior to making a choice, I would always make it a point to explain to my clients what are not covered (in the case of health/medical insurance), what can they expect from this product and how it can help solve their issue(s) or fill any hole in their financial security blanket. My clients will be the ones making the final decision, only after understanding the final proposal.

I hope you understand more now after reading this post. I also hope that I have helped in any way, when it comes to selecting the right solutions to your issues. It is always good to ask questions, so feel free to do so. It’s your right!

Take care and may you have a great weekend ahead. If you are travelling, may you have a safe and joyful journey to your destination.

~ AliceN.

The Big C

Stop Press : Do you know that there is 1 in 6 females being diagnosed with cancer; 5 cases every hour? (Source: Sin Chiew Jit Poh, 29 May 2009) and 39 out of 100,000 will have breast cancer – critical stage! (Source: The Star,  5 May 2009) and still counting…

Breast cancer is a common disease amongst ladies these days. It is not necessarily hereditary. I personally lost a wonderful friend to breast cancer  a year ago. May she rest in peace. She was a bubbly young lady and always has positive outlook in life. She was always smiling when you were with her, even through the times when she was treating her cancer! I admire her courage and spirit. I have never encountered anyone who smiles so easily like her, whether she’s talking or mere listening to you. She was someone I met 11 years ago, when we quickly became friends as if we had known each other for a long time. She is dearly missed, but I’d like to believe that she is now in a wonderful place where she is well and happy.

You know, it is so confusing when it comes to preventive screening. It’s been in the media all the times, advising ladies to do their health screening annually, like adding cancer markers to your blood test, pap smear and to have mammogram done when you are 40 and above (or earlier, if there is medical history).

Once, I read in the papers, a few years back, about a doctor saying that cancer markers can’t really tell until you’ve got it and the results show a surge of abnormal reading. So, does that mean you’ve got to have an active Big C, in order to detect it? The next question, is detecting the Cancer a good thing? Some said yes but some said no.

Early detection allows you to seek treatment as soon as possible and that supposedly give you higher chance of survivorship. Conversely, some friends share their thoughts with me : why must we find out? – usually people’s health would deteriorate sharply after finding out that they have cancer.  Before that, they had no symptoms and living happily. After getting that fateful result through a biopsy, they became gloomy, depressed, losing will to live, and some became nasty towards family members….Might as well not to seek “trouble” and to live life till the end? Sometimes, what you don’t know, won’t hurt. Everyone has his/her own right to make life’s decision. It’s entirely up to you.

Regardless, for me, I would still do whatever screenings my doctors advised me to. Well, we must be able to trust our doctors, to a certain degree, for them to help us. I’ll cross the bridge when I reach it. I want to be there for my family for as long as I am allowed to. For now, I’ll just take good care of myself and try to live my life with fewer regrets. If I tell you I have no regrets at all, I’ll be fooling myself and you (LOL!). Yes, I have some regrets but nothing so major that I can’t come to terms with them. I live by the rule “If something is beyond your control, don’t waste your energy to change it or go against it; Act on something which you have control over – i.e. yourself, your action, your behaviour, your habits, etc.” I think people who are happier, live a fuller life. I want to live that way and hope my happiness and good energy would then flow into the lives of my loved ones and people around me.

There are some things in life, which we can’t have control over -one of them is diseases, especially when it is hereditary. I was told that not all in the family will be carriers. Therefore, we could try to prolong the period of good health, perhaps by treating our body and mind well. We can start by putting as many good stuffs as possibly can into them. You choose whether you want to stuff  yourself with – healthy food vs junk food, alcohol vs water/juice, smoke vs exercise to make your body works better,  angry and sad thoughts vs happy thoughts, the list goes on…We not only want our body to be strong, we must be mentally calm and strong too. It’s always about the Positive vs Negative. And, Stress is number one cause (amongst others) to many diseases.

Before I leave, I shall put up a poll (below), for you to vote for Cancer Marker and Mammogram screening. Let me hear from you…

~ Alice

Tennis Elbow

I didn’t write so much last week because I’ve been suffering from tennis elbow. Oh no…not from playing tennis…I don’t even know how to play tennis! That’s my husband’s joke.

I had that condition last year on my left arm – that time, my Dr actually called it “Laundry elbow“. That was how I got myself injured. Lifting the laundry basket! This time, I’m sure my Dr is going to call it “Daughter elbow” – I injured both arms (recurring injury for left and a fresh one for the right) as I lifted my daughter.

You see, my dearest princess, she can’t really get up on her own in the early hours for school. The fastest way to get her out of her bed would be to carry her from the bed to the bathroom (1-2 mins max). I did that for 4 straight days and that was how I got my arms injured.

A friend advised me not to pamper my little darling too much. If it takes me 20 mins to wake her up, I shall start acting on it 20 minutes earlier ~ Sit by the bed and shake her like a rag doll till she becomes wide awake to walk to her bathroom. The issue is, you can try to shake her like a rag doll, she really does look like one, yet she still can’t get up! It’s so comical! Any ideas you may have which proved to work for you, please share. I would be most grateful.

You’d be surprised to know that tennis elbow is a common injury, sad to say, mainly suffered by women, especially homemakers! My Dr said, that is because homemakers do a lot of housework and tend to injure themselves. This is one of those all small injuries which  can be easily dismissed by rubbing some balm or oil on that spot and soon be forgotten. Once injured, the recurrence is easy. One does not need to go for surgery unless it is really bad. Your Dr would be able to advise you accordingly.

I say, when you feel that the basket full of laundry or whatever, is too heavy for you, find a way to make it lighter. A friend uses her son’s scooter (is it what it’s called? Not the motorbike scooter but the kids, one-legged push scooter) and trike to push the basket from the back to the front. Brilliant! And, if your back becomes stiff and painful after vacuuming the house, it’s time to put up your feet and relax over a cuppa. It’s OK to be less perfect. It’s not OK to try to do everything and you end up being sick or injured. Do you notice that when having lack of sleep and not exercising, we tend to be more prone to injury?

(Sigh) I’m wearing my arm brace now – on the right – as it is more painful than the left. That makes writing and doing things quite challenging. It’s getting better, I hope. I shall use the Law of Attraction to heal – think “positive” and think “healed”.

Take care everyone and enjoy the sunshine too 🙂

~Alice