I’m a Brain Tumor Survivor
A pilocytic cerebellar astrocytoma on the left side of 4th ventricle, WHO grade l, has changed my life. It is a brand new journey and adventure for me. I was given a second chance by the one up there. It never crosses my mind that I will need to go under the knife. Well, being me, I like it to be as natural as possible in terms of recovery. No tablet or mixture if I ever had fever, cough or headache. But things have changed ever since that. Now, I have two types of tablets, N-Cobal and Stugeron to be consumed, twice a day. It’s for my brain tissue. I feel like I’m in Plant Vs Zombie game where I need to protect my brain from be eaten by the Zombies!
30 November 2013 (Saturday) will always be remembered. It’s the day I knew about my illness. I was diagnosed with brain tumor- Cried? Nope. I didn’t cry when the Dr. breaks the news. Why should I? I should look forward on how to cure my illness. Right? No, I’m not that brave, neither tough to face this, but I’m the chosen one. Like my Dr. said. It’s got nothing to do with my diet or genetics. It’s just your cells suddenly decided to change form. Maybe my cells getting bored doing the same thing every single day. The initial diagnosis is Ependymoma.
2 December 2013 (Monday). I went to work as usual and bring along my MRI scan images. My aunt said she’ll help me to get an appointment slot with a Neurosurgeon, Dr. Chee Chee Pin who has about 30 years of experiences and a registered Neurosurgeon with Harley Street Group. I bring the images along so that if I manage to get the appointment on that day, it will be a bonus for me to get the second opinion faster. Turns up I’m scheduled to meet him at 11am! Before that, around 9-ish, I called Brian P., Aloysius W. and John F. for a short meeting. It’s mainly for me to break the news to them. They are my superior and they need to know about this because I’ll be in a very long break due to my illness. During the meeting, Dr. Chee said the position of my tumor is very dangerous and the surgery will take about 6 hours, a very high risk surgery. The tumor located near to my water cavity and IF the tumor consist of abscess and burst inside, it’ll threaten my life. He suggested I admit to the hospital the next day and do the surgery on Wednesday! Fast as lightning! I requested to postpone it to Friday.
3 December 2013 (Tuesday). I went back to my hometown. It’s 6 hours of journey to break the news to my parents. Why don’t you call them, Suriani? My dad has stenting planted inside his heart due to coronary disease and mom has high blood pressure. I couldn’t afford to call them only, too dangerous. I guess its good if I can go back and break the news face-to-face. When I broke the news, they shocked but can accept it and I went back to KL with my mom on the next day, Thursday, 4 December 2013. Earlier, I called Dr. Chee’s clinic and asked if I can postpone it to Monday, 9 December 2013. I would love to wait until my dad comes to KL and having more time to spend with loved ones. Dr. Chee didn’t do surgery on Monday, the earliest will be Tuesday, 10 December 2013. That’s what I get from Dr. Chee’s assistant. So, Tuesday it is! Weekend was busy with visitors.
9 December 2013 (Monday). Early morning, I’ve reached Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur Hospital for admission. It was a long day for me. They took my blood sample and urine for the pre – surgery test. The beginning of needles poking started! Before, I was very scared with the needles. Who doesn’t?! Now, I’m ok with it. I know, the Dr. will poke me all over the body once I admitted to the hospital. Such a drama queen. 10 December 2013 (Tuesday). Very early in the morning, the nurse came and asked me to change into that ‘special’ hospital gown (I’ve already in a hospital gown). I took some time and think, I won’t be the same Suriani after the surgery. Life won’t be same. When I’m about to be wheeled into the OT, mom cried. I knew, she will. I tried to make everyone calm and err…happy. I plastered a smile and assure them that everything will be fine, I’m in a good hand. It’s not the end of my life. I just started a new journey and adventure. Most important thing, life must go on. The nurse wheeled me to the OT around 830am and I was wheeled out to ICU at 530pm. What a long day for me.
12 December 2013 (Thursday) Dr. Chee was satisfied with my condition and I’m allowed to be transferred to a normal ward. In the past two days spend in the ICU, I keep vomiting. Countless times. It’s because of the anesthetic I had during the surgery. The ‘power’ has lost and my appetite kicks off. I will vomit every time I eat something. I had a catheter on and of course not allowed off the bed. Everything was done in the bed and by other people. 14 December 2013 (Saturday) Catheter off and I’m allowed off the bed today. To my surprise, I can’t walk-at all. My walking nerve has been so laid back until they forgot how to walk. My family members will lend me their hand every time I need a toilet break. A physiotherapist came, and teach me how to walk. Men, I thought it’ll be easy cause I’ve done that for more than 20 years. But it’s not.
17 December 2013 (Tuesday) Yeayy!! Its my discharged day today. Dr. Chee was happy with my progress and I can go home today! With a brand new hair style and a reborn Suriani. 23 December 2013 (Monday) My first follow up check up after discharge from the hospital. I can walk a bit, but still need a lot of support. I’ll carry my small pillow and water bottle whenever I go. Walking can be so tiring at this moment. The pillow is for me to support my back head-where the surgery is done. I can’t eat the normal cooked rice. Mom will cooked a slightly softer rice for me. My digestive system is gradually coming back to work as usual. I have a big appetite! Will woke up in the middle of the night and look for foods!!!
10 January 2014 (Friday) My second follow up check up. I’m no longer carrying my pillow. I can walk better than before. Grumpier as before! 10February 2014 (Monday) Post surgery MRI scan. I fainted when the nurse pokes me. Too scare to the needles I guess. Shame. 14 February 2014 (Friday) My third check up. I can walk far better and the recovery process is well. I can do a brisk walk and drive now, even it just 80% normal. I don’t drive alone and only for a short distance to the car wash and some grocery shopping. Dr. Chee said, there’s some residual from the tumor along the wall and it might subside over time. It’s not urgent and we can delay further treatment (Cyber knife-kind of gamma ray procedure. No real knife involved). So, I decided to wait for the next scan and decide any further treatment from there. Hopefully, the residual subside and I don’t need to go for any other treatment. Finger crossed!
3 March 2014 (Monday) My first day at work after almost 3 months of holiday. Tired but somehow I’m very happy to be out of the house and do things like before. I’m no longer allowed to do my outdoor activities-as for now. Hopefully I’ll get hang on it soon. So, that’s my story. How a dread disease has changed my life. I’ll jokingly said that my MSc project was very hard that’s the reason I had this. So, to those doing their PhD, that one must be a real one-Permanent Head Damage. I am eternally grateful to have a very supportive family, friends and colleague during this hard time. Thank you to Senergy International Sdn Bhd(my work place) with the insurance coverage provided, I can pay the hospital bill which whooping to almost RM80k. I am one lucky girl. “Life is like taking a one way bus ride. Even though your bell has rang, it will continue to go on after a pause. If you chose to stop there, you’ll no longer on the journey. No one will stop you except yourself. Appreciate others and live your life to the fullest. And life must go on…”