Monday, May 31, 2010

Overwhelmed by Our Friends

An astonishing number of you have emailed Lin with messages that have touched his crusty old heart; there were so many messages to him that I could not believe my eyes.

And some of you even picked up your phones and called from overseas.

I cannot tell you how uplifting it has been for him to receive your calls and messages. It makes such a nice change from me nagging him about eating!

To know you all care has made a huge difference to his spirit and outlook, so anytime you have a moment and are near your computers please send a message, even a short one.

Already, he has eaten more today than in the past few days - I made sure he had the major portion of a 4 egg (mainly white) bacon and shallot concoction on toast at lunchtime. He ate all that and said it was tasty! At dinner time, he managed a small rib eye steak although he said the meat was a bit tough for him. He finished off a small Japanese sweet potato that I had baked and some spinach (which he loves to eat, especially creamed). Plus sliced tomatoes with a sesame dressing.

I know, I know, I know:  we should keep him from processed foods like bacon and also from red meat. But right now, what he likes and finds tasty works for me too.

Thank you; you have done him a world of good!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Help Get Lin to Eat, please

We are like Jack Sprat and his wife, except I am not fond of fat, whereas he is! But he is skinny - almost skeletal - and I am plump.

I am not over dramatising the situationwhen I say that he eats like a sparrow. Take a typical day: he has a mango for breakfast (minus the seed because he cannot be bothered to mess with the seed)  - or an equivalent volume of any other fruit. When alone he will reluctantly make the effort to peel a banana.

Lunch consists of an American style muffin (small) or a cookie, maybe two if small. Plus a cup of Starbucks (ugh!) coffee.

Dinner will be  a little of whatever we try to tempt him to eat.

Tonight we had "yeong tow fu" and because it looks so clean and bland he picked at a few pieces (left most of his helping) and had some cheese for dessert.

("Yeong tow fu" is a Chinese dish consisting of healthy white fish which has been made into stuffing for eggplant, chili pepper, various types of tofu, mushrooms, etc - hard to find a dish more healthy).

I don't think he even consumes half his daily calorific needs a day.

So how is he going to cope with chemotherapy? I don't think he's even recovered from his operation because he's still anaemic.

He's stubborn and keeps insisting that he eats a lot. He also makes all sorts of excuses - the food is too chewy, it's too hard, etc. Yet he could eat fried fried tofu tonight. As it had been fried it was brownish and appetising to him - but it was a harder, more chewy texture than any of the stuffed veggies in the "yeong tow fu".

If he feeds like this how is he going to survive when he loses his appetite completely, can't stand the smell of some foods and so on?

Please would some of you who are reading this urge him to eat and keep a food diary? Maybe if he can see how little he eats he might eat more - but I surely doubt so.

Email him directly: linholloway@gmail.com

Thank you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ready, Steady............

We are getting prepared, at least mentally, for our next step which is a session with Prof John Wong at the Cancer Center (National University Hospital, Singapore) at 8:30am on Monday, May 31.

Our first appointment with him was this Monday, May 24 at 6:30pm (brought forward from 7:30pm).

My question is, "when does he ever rest"? Maybe on his flights to wherever he is heading because his various jobs take him hither and yon?

Anyway since we arrived in Singapore we have heard nothing but praise for him - from patients and people who know him.

Lin is trying to eat at my insistence (nagging!). But he still eats like a sparrow.

On Monday we'll decide the type of chemotherapy and chart the path we need to take.

We took the decision to undergo chemotherapy in Singapore based on weight the pros and cons:

The pros for this are:

Home comforts (athough we do not have full time help in Singapore, we do have a part timer 3 times a week here and I do not have to cope with our "Einstein" who we left in Hong Kong!)
Transportation (we have a car and parking though limited at times is available)
Medical costs w/o insurance coverage (clinical, medicines and diagnostics coverage is laughable in his policy)
Teamwork and coordination within the Cancer Center
Prof Wong and the team are as up-to-date as anywhere in the world
The Center has the set up to handle possible side effects (and, god forbid, any emergency)
We have the support of close friends and relatives (as we have in HK and PVB!)
English is spoken here - my Cantonese is not up to par for dealing with medical terms in Hong Kong  (Singlish is the lingua franca)

The cons are:
Traffic (you cannot imagine how much traffic and how unruly motorists are in Singapore)
Taxis (thank goodness we don't need to use them often because they are hard to get and pile on all sorts of surcharges)
Carparks (sometimes insufficient at NUH where they are expanding like crazy, but they have valet parking)

As you can see, the reasons for Singapore are overwhelming as Lin would be a private patient at a private clinic or private hospital in Hong Kong. He is a private patient in a government facility in Singapore.

This is a pause to have our breakfast!

We'll let you know what happens after Monday.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good Foods


20 great foods you aren't eating
These easy-to-buy superfoods could help you to live a healthier, flat-bellied and longer life, says our nutritionist
kitchenman_385x185_672329a.jpg


Amanda Ursell

Baked beans
Great for soluble fibre (the type that helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels), baked beans also give you 6g of protein per average serving; about the same as in a medium-size egg. Have them on toast, with a baked potato or, if you absolutely must, straight from the can.
Green tea
Swap a couple of cups of your builder’s brew a day for green tea. Especially rich in polyphenols, green tea antioxidants have antibacterial and antithrombotic roles, and regulate the immune system. The lazy man’s solution to boosting antioxidants, which may also help to fight tooth decay.
Oily fish
Fling fresh sardines under the grill, or have them from a can; either way, like mackerel, salmon and anchovies, they are great for omega-3 oils, which seem to make platelets in the blood less likely to clump together and cause a clot.
Parsley
Chew on some after a meal and this herb, which is rich in chlorophyl, can help to keep your breath fresh and mop up pongy odours; vital if out on the town after eating. Also good for vitamin C, a vital antioxidant that helps to protect sperm from free-radical attack.
Apples
With an astonishing 150 supernutrients packed into each apple you eat, this easy-to-transport, easy-to-eat, no-waste fruit is especially good for quercetin, an antioxidant that appears from laboratory research to help to kill off viruses such as herpes, which causes cold sores. Quercetin sits just under the skin so never peel your apples before eating.
Grapefruit
It is said that eating a grapefruit before each meal helps you to cut calorie intake in the meal itself, possibly because it slightly lowers blood sugar and makes participants feel more satisfied. Grapefruits also give you glucaric acid, a supernutrient known to lower “bad”, artery-clogging cholesterol.
Tomatoes
This vegetable is packed with the red pigment lycopene, the main antioxidant in the prostate gland. Studies reveal that men eating tomatoes (or tomato products such as purée, juice and soup) ten or more times a week have a 35 per cent reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.
Pomegranates
You don’t need to fiddle around with fresh pomegranates. Israeli scientists found that men drinking only a couple of gulps (100ml) of this powerful juice each day for 12 months helped to reverse artery damage. This may be down to the fruit’s increasing production of paraoxonase, a cholesterol-breaking enzyme.
New potatoes
A baked potato gives you fast-release energy, making it a great post-workout, muscle-refuelling food. If you are not an exercise nut, new potatoes are a better option. They provide slow-release energy to keep blood sugar levels and appetite under control between normal meals.
Oats
Have them in muesli or porridge, Oatibix or oatmeal. Full of the soluble fibre called beta glucan, which lowers “bad” cholesterol, they also give us silica, a trace mineral believed to be vital for good- quality skin, metrosexual or otherwise.
Poached eggs
Eggs give us lecithin, which is turned into choline once eaten, a vital component of transmitters in our brains involved in memory. This brain-boosting food is also fabulously filling — eat two for breakfast (poached or boiled, not fried) and, according to research, you will eat 400 calories less during the rest of the day.
Frozen peas
The ultimate convenience food, frozen peas lock in the B vitamins needed for a healthy nervous system, plus soluble fibre to help to fill you up and keep cholesterol under control. A 140g portion gives you 16mg of immune-boosting vitamin C, about as much as you will get in a satsuma.
Prunes
Blend them with milk and yoghurt to make an antioxidant-rich, free-radical- zapping drink that also gives ferulic acid, a supernutrient associated with bowel health. The special sugars in prunes will also help to keep you regular and potentially help to resist bowel cancer.
Dark chocolate
The dark varieties (above 70 per cent cocoa solids) are rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown that flavanol-packed cocoa acts in an “aspirin-like” way to stop blood cells clumping together.
Frozen berries
An easy way to increase potential brain- boosting, anti-ageing antioxidants to help to keep you ahead of the game on the work front. Throw them into smoothies or defrost and mix with yoghurt for breakfast.
Olives
Put on home-made pizzas or eaten as a bar snack, olives are good for monounsaturated fats, phenolics and vitamin E, which are all important for artery health and long life.
Almonds
Ditch cholesterol-raising snacks such as biscuits and cakes and trade them in for a fistful of almonds. Research shows that this will help you to feel full and cut back on artery-clogging fats.
Chillies
These are sure to raise your metabolism: the hotter you can stand, the more their effect. Expect a 15 per cent increase in calories burnt for about two hours after eating a hot chilli sauce.
Wholewheat pasta
The ultimate filling — and so easy to cook. The wholewheat variety has a lower glycaemic index than plain and releases energy slowly. Good for sportsmen who need muscles packed with energy.
Turmeric
As used liberally in Gordon Ramsay’s recipes, this is a great source of curcumin, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects and may help to fight bowel cancer. For Indian takeaways, choose healthy dishes such as tandoori chicken and chicken tikka, which provide turmeric but don’t have loads of fat.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Glimmer Of Hope

Today is Thursday, May 27. Lin has decided to undergo chemotherapy under the care of John Wong at the Cancer Center, National University Hospital (NUH).

To this end he has an appointment with Roy Chan at the National Skin Centre, himself a colon cancer survivor.

Lin and I have known various of the Chan family for years. Elder sister Pat, Roy and other brothers ruled the swimming pools when they were younger. Pat was Singapore's 'Golden Girl' who dominated the sport of swimming in Southeast Asia. Lin often played tennis in the Chan family compound in Mountbatten Road, Katong.

On Monday we have an early morning appointment with John Wong to work out the details. In the afternoon, a visit to Dr Low Huey Moon at the new dental centre at the new Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Dr Low is a specialist in oral and maxillary-facial surgery, a gem Lin discovered through Gene King at MD Anderson. Lin is concerned about the effects of the chemotherapy, especially on his mouth and use of his obturator (the legacy of his bout with cancer in the '60s).

Thus, we continue putting one foot in front of the other.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Best Sleep in Ages

I woke up with a start at 9:00 a.m. this morning, Tuesday, May 25, because workmen were scheduled to arrive in a gondola (don't think Venice, think the sort that ascend and descend high rise buildings) to install 'bird spikes' so that the pigeons are discouraged from roosting in our bougainvilleas.

Much as I love nature, it's not healthy to have a colony of pigeons almost in our bedroom! A lesson learnt from the SARS epidemic of several years ago.

Lin said that I slept like a log, even as he was unpacking, putting things away and generally making noise.

Must have been the potent combination of a few glasses of red wine at my cousin Ricca's on our way home from meeting Prof John Wong at NUH and the after effects of our meeting. My mind and body must have agreed that we are on the threshold of finding a treatment for Lin and that I could enjoy a good night's sleep.

Those of you who know me well know how well I sleep and that I can fall asleep almost anywhere! But good sleep has been more elusive of late - until last night.

So, much as I am thirsty for a big mug of hot, strong tea, I am writing a potted account of last evening's consultation.

We were going in as most patients and staff were leaving; there were people waiting for the shuttle buses, cars and taxis as we arrived at the Kent Ridge Wing.

Cancer Center @ Level 3 (must have been named by the same people as use mis-spelling and typographical signs or symbols in proper names) was deserted, bar a receptionist, when we set foot in it a at 6:27 p.m.

Our appointment was for 7:30 p.m. but while we were at home, we received a call requesting our presence at 6:30 p.m. as the professor was making good headway through his workload.

We were ushered into his office shortly after 7:00 p.m. and did not leave until 8:15 p.m.

Some of that time was spent touching on the issue of supplements that Lin has been taking recently. Long story short, he strongly advocates the benefits of a healthy diet and continued intake of vitamin D3 (albeit in a smaller dose).

He was very thorough, very knowledgeable and totally impressive.

Very briefly:

He said that Lin looked younger than his 81 years (I claimed credit for the effects of benign neglect!) and that his overall physical condition (healthy heart and major organs) would be factor's in Lin's favour of undergoing chemotherapy.

He used Adjuvant Online to print out and explain the effect of 5Fu and FOLFOX regimens on Lin's 5-year survival chances in a manner even Lin could understand right away! (Although the other doctors had mentioned similar statistics only one other had printed out the charts.)

In reply to our question, he said that there are good doctors in Hong Kong (he's worked with oncologists at the Chinese U and Prince of Wales Hospital) and Lin could have his chemotherapy done there or here in Singapore.

It emerged during the consultation that both Lin's parents died of cancer. He immediately suggested Lin ask his siblings to get colonoscopies if they had not done so recently.

He suggested we take our time to come to a decision.

In the meantime we sent the paraffin blocks for KRAS testing, to confirm earlier results.

Next steps: his clinical staff would be in touch.

And we need to find out what Lin has had in the way of antibiotics and various other details to round off his collection of data.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Long Day

It started at 6:00 a.m. and I am now going to hit the sack (it's about 11:45 p.m.).

We went to NUH's Cancer Center @ Level 3 this evening.

As I am worn out, I will only say it was worth the effort and more!

Until my next post, eat healthy and stay healthy.

News To Share from Tasmania

This was sent in my Lin's sister, from Tasmania. Not being medical specialists we would not know how appropriate this procedure would be for a lesion like his.


Pioneer gives fresh hope

MORE people die of bowel cancer in Tasmania than any other state.
But a pioneering procedure is changing how surgeons fight the disease.
Hobart is one of just two Australian cities to introduce a world-leading new surgical procedure known as single-port.
Calvary Health Care colorectal surgeon Emilio Mignanelli was involved in two of the first three cases performed worldwide while working at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States.
Since returning to Hobart 12 months ago he has completed 15 single-port surgeries and the world's first study comparing post-operative results between the new technique and traditional laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.
He said his single-port patients' hospital stay was greatly reduced, they experienced less pain and inflammation, a smaller scar and a faster recovery.
Nearly three-quarters of his patients were home within three days instead of eight.
"By the end of the year I'll be offering this surgery to most people who need bowel surgery," Dr Mignanelli said.
The technique uses one small incision to remove bowel cancer, compared with keyhole surgery that requires five abdominal incisions.
Dr Mignanelli said one in 20 Tasmanians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer, the second most common cancer.
Calvary CEO Michael Krieg said single-port surgery allowed the hospital to better fight bowel cancer while improving patient care.
He said at-risk groups include people over 50 and those with a family history of bowel cancer.
"There's no defined reason why our state has a higher rate of a whole range of illnesses, including bowel cancer," Mr Krieg said.
He hoped more people would get tested using the bowel cancer screening program.
Steps towards reducing bowel cancer risk include:
• Reduce fat intake.
• Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals.
• Drink alcohol only moderately, if at all.
• Exercise.
• Don't smoke.

Colorectal surgeon Emilio Mignanelli is introducing new surgery for bowel cancer at Calvary Hospital. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bookmarking

In case I miss out updating you, those of you who would like to keep up with our progress might FOLLOW this blog (see right).


Alternative:  bookmark this blog so that you can check in when you have time.

http://curecoloncancer.blogspot.com/         or        http://www.wongholloway.com/


I am still learning so this is a work in progress.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Somewhere In Between

After our visit to Queen Mary Hospital, Lin was not going to go near the place again if we could find a doctor and a place in which we felt comfortable for his treatment.

Don't get me wrong, it is a fine hospital but there are just too many people requiring their services and not enough space and staff.

The best picture I can come up with is the old Hong Kong airport at Kai Tak. Those of you old enough might remember how it was always overcrowded - from the approach ramps, overflowing car park and packed check-in counters to the concourses. A veritable hive of activity containing a seething mass of humanity; all suffering from ADHD!

The modern private hospitals are like the new airport at Chek Lap Kok.

Anyway we decided to go private private as opposed to private public in a hospital - in the hope that the environment would be more conducive to healing.

We had met one oncologist while Lin was still at the Baptist Hospital, but as we wanted to know more, we then made an appointment to consult another.

Everyone who emailed us, without exception, had stressed the importance of finding the right person.

"I think you are both wise to search for an oncologist you like and can feel a connection with. It's so important, after all, a very intimate relationship so what your instincts tell you are paramount. Good for you. Very often, our inner wisdom picks  up on much more than we are conscious of, and over and above conventional wisdom."


Although Lin liked his third 'date' well enough, a charming chap, there wasn't an instant bonding.


So we took a little step back and decided that we'd broach the topic of costs and see how the two oncologists would tell us what we were in for in terms of medication, monitoring and their involvement.


It's one thing to have the sort of health insurance coverage that pays for almost everything under the sun, or to work for an organisation that will pick up the tab. Or be extremely rich.


But even then.


If you only learn one lesson in Hong Kong, it is that you can spend as you like. But spend wisely.


There aren't that many people here who "know the price of everything but the value of nothing".


While waiting for responses, we were overtaken by events - see Suddenly We're Off!


(We conceivably could be back in Hong Kong for Lin's treatment. No one knows, least of all us! Thus we are not shutting down comms. with the good doctors we have met.)







Not In Chronological Order!

Some of you must be wondering if I have been smoking (not likely) or drinking (now that's more my style, but no).

I'm new to this blogging thingamy, so I do not know how to arrange my posts in the order that I ORIGINALLY wrote some of this stuff.

Read them any way you like or skip some posts if you already have read them.

Starting Our Search

Dear Friends and Relatives,

I do not know who I may have left out as I have not a list. So pls share the update if you would like to do so.

For some of you this may be the first of the news regarding Lin's health (for the same reason I mentioned above).

Today, Lin and I went to QMH to see an oncologist, Rico Liu.

He roughly told us what we had already heard and know. Anyway, Dr Liu detailed two options. Oral chemotherapy (Xeloda) and the combination of Xeloda and Oxaliplatin (via IV). Both would be 3 week cycles for 6 months. From the gist of our discussion we came away with the impression he recommends the Xeloda and Oxaliplatin option.

As for side effects, he did not seem particularly perturbed (he printed out a list and ticked off the ones he thought might be relevant) and said that they might not be too bad as they'd put him on 80% of the normal dosage because of his age.

To sum it up, I think Lin found it rather depressing. I certainly did, seeing so many sick people in such a small space.

The cancer centre on the first floor of the Professorial Block was chock-a-block and people (like staff) were almost shouting to be heard. It was an organised chaos, but chaos all the same.

I felt so sad for the sick people lying on hospital beds waiting for blood draws or to see a doctor. MD Anderson with its many clinics was much calmer and less unsettling.

For the private patient with no influence any savings is likely outweighed by the crush and clamor.  An atmosphere not unlike being in a crowded wet market - but with every other person masked and sick.

We are looking for an oncologist we like; have seen two now. I know it probably sounds silly to say we are looking for someone we like; it is probably more like someone we feel we have faith in and who we feel comfortable with, like Lin's surgeon.

We have another name and this afternoon Lin called to make an appointment for Wednesday so we shall see.  This doc was a good friend's oncologist about twelve years ago. She had breast cancer then and mentioned her oncologist to us. He (the doc) had a sister who died of colon cancer and would probably be quite knowledgeable on the subject.

Anyway we see him on Wednesday morning. And then decide - probably between the first oncologist that we met and Wednesday's date.

Keep well,

Anne

Back To The Beginning

This background is for those of you who, through my accidental omission, did not receive our earlier news:


Your many well wishes, emails and telephone calls have lifted Lin's spirits and speeded up his recovery, without taking any credit away from the doctors and the staff at the Baptist Hospital.

We could not have been more pleased with our decision to eschew the much fancier and upmarket HK Sanatorium for the Baptist Hospital even though the Baptist is over the water in Kowloon (hence more convenient for the golf club than our home on the island). The building that Lin was in is new and is superbly maintained and the staff have been outstanding.

They are professional and friendly, very, very helpful and all tried their best to converse with Lin in English. It is evident they care for their patients and this is hard to find anywhere in the world.

It is a far cry from Mt Elizabeth (Singapore) where my mother spent her last days in her bout with lung cancer and where my brother had his vertebrae repaired after he had slipped and fallen outside the SICC gym complex

Some of you may know some of the background, but perhaps as I have the time and opportunity while waiting for the green light to go home I could clue in the rest of you from on the beginning of the saga.

Many years ago doctors in Singapore kept draining his sinuses for his sniffles and it was not until Bill Simmons sent Lin to Melbourne that Lin met Sir John Williams of the Melbourne Herald. Sir John arranged for Lin to consult with a few doctors and kindly accompanied Lin to his appointments. The first doctor was immaculately dressed and expressed full confidence he could handle the growth behind and below Lin's left eye although he had never performed such a procedure. Sir John was not impressed by this elegant fellow's brimming confidence, and they consulted two more physicians.

The third said he had come across this before and knew what to do, but he had never done that procedure. Thus it was decided that Lin would head to the Royal Marsden in London where he was fortunate enough to come under the care of an extraordinary surgeon called H.J. Shaw.

They agreed on the treatment; at that time both radiation and chemo therapy were rudimentary at best and so it was decided to cut out anything remotely cancerous and a margin of surrounding bone and tissue - and hope for the best.

Thanks to Mr Shaw's extensive surgery, the cancer was excised and did not return. He also managed to save Lin's left eye.

Then in 1999 Lin underwent brachytherapy (seeding of radioactive rice grain size particles into his prostate) at MD Anderson. By that time the Americans had overtaken the British in cancer treatment, partly by opening their coffers to British talent to entice them to American universities and hospitals.

Lin's health was uneventful for a while - until 2007 when his primary care doctor suggested another colonoscopy. For whatever reason,  he ended up with a shorter exploration, a sigmoidoscopy - which proved to be clear in that portion of the colon.

In March/April 2010 he did not feel well and had a colonoscopy on April 21, which lead to the discovery of a growth in his colon. He went to see a surgeon the very next day and was warded into the Baptist Hospital Kowloon two days later.

Pre op xrays showed that a few 'seeds' from the brachytherapy had migrated upwards via the venous system and lodged themselves elsewhere in his thoracic cavity. Fortunately nothing serious.

We just have to remember to inform the radiologists should Lin ever need an MRI.

But to return to the matter at hand:

He had laparoscopic surgery on April 27 and today, May 4 we have the clearance from the surgeon to go home. Perhaps I have a bit of the Stockholm Syndrome but I am a tiny bit sad to leave mainly because everyone we met from the cleaners to the nurses and doctors were so good to us.

Our days here were marked by visits to check his temperature and BP, to check on his IVs and collection bags. And pain injections every now and again. Sidebar events came in the form of worry about congestion in his chest from lying down and crepitus (gas beneath the skin). Then in the last few days the priorities were to get him to pass loud gas, to pee without his catheter and finally to do the 'big job'.

The best thing that happened was discovering by chance that my cousin from Los Angeles was arriving for a vacation and being able to contact her (Carolyn is a radiation oncologist and very knowledgeable and communicative in the manner of US-trained physicians).Her friend, Roger is an anaesthesiologist.

They both came last evening and we all gathered for a useful and highly informative chat with our surgeon, and they were here again this morning to listen to a medical oncologist and his recommendations.

Before our surgeon came up, Carolyn quizzed Lin on his medical history. He'd almost forgotten that as a young boy he had been treated for mastoids; we are not certain if in those days they also treated him with something that sounded to me like "kilerwatt" (a primitive form of cobalt or other beam). If so, Carolyn feels that could well have caused his maxillofacial cancer in his 30's/early 40's as such cancers happen between 10 and 20 years after exposure to radiation.

When we went on to relate his experience with brachytherapy for prostate cancer at MD Anderson, in 1999, and I remarked that the pre op xrays showed the migration of a few of the radioactive seeds she was like a bloodhound on the scent and wanted to know just where these seeds ended up. As it happens one was lodged near the splenic flexure; now whether it caused this cancer is moot, but there is a possibility.

The lesson to be learnt is to be very careful about radiation which one cannot see and feel; that's why in the USA they do not as a rule do mammograms on young women. And some doctors do not like their patients to have mammograms too often.

Carolyn had discovered when checking patients' backgrounds that those of a certain age group had said they did not have radiation therapy, but on further questioning mentioned they had undergone "light therapy" for acne, apparently quite a common practice in those days. Well, that "light therapy was a form of radiation and while it eradicated the acne, there was payback some 10-20 years afterwards. So do be careful what beams are directed at you!

You will by now have started to wonder: where do we go from here.

Well, having seen one oncologist we will be seeing another for a second opinion and then will have to decide what to do if anything - based on the data and options available and how Lin wants to live for the next several months and years.

Here's wishing you all the best of health!

Anne and Lin

Suddenly we're off!

We're off to Singapore on Monday, May 24, 2010 having been notified on Friday evening, May 21 that Lin has an appointment with Professor John Wong at the National University Hospital  (NUH) Cancer Center on Monday evening.

Mind you, it has been an eventful month or so, starting with Lin's colonoscopy on April 21 followed by a consultation with a surgeon the very next day. And checking into the Baptist Hospital in Kowloon on April 24 - followed by laparoscopic surgery on April 27.

Since his discharge from the hospital on May 4, he's been recuperating and we've been checking out a few oncologists; and discussing chemotherapy options.

The thought of Lin undergoing chemotherapy any where else was not in our minds. We were perfectly comfortable here in Hong Kong and thought we might just as well stay here for any treatment (adjuvant chemotherapy to be precise - I am learning medical terms these days).

But as we looked around it slowly dawned on us that perhaps we should look at what is available in Singapore. 

My first thought was that we did not know where to start, but an email from a friend reminded me that Singapore has a National Cancer Centre (NCC) located within the grounds of Singapore General Hospital. Another friend waxed on about Singapore's "world class medical".

Curious, I got on the Internet and found quite a lot about the treatment of cancer (and other medical conditions) in Singapore. I also emailed friends and wasted no time trying to find an oncologist.

The most difficult part was plucking up enough courage and then asking an old (not in age, but someone I have known for years) and dear friend to help put us in touch with the man whose name kept cropping up in emails and on the Internet.

With my heart in my mouth, I forced myself to call my friend and finally blurted out that I need help and told her why. She promised to try but wasn't sure if Professor John Wong was taking any new patients. One thing was sure, he  had a lot on his plate with the cancer center at NUH, the school of medicine and other commitments.

I always thought things happened quickly and efficiently in Hong Kong, but in this case our quest took off like the space shuttle from Cape Canaveral! I didn't even have time to fret and worry whether my friend could contact the professor, nor whether he would entertain the thought of a new patient with a rather common place cancer.

But before the day was out, my friend messaged to say that the professor had responded and would I let her have our contact details. In no time at all Professor Wong and I had exchanged emails and he had kindly agreed to look at Lin's case. He told me what information he needed and put me in touch with his staff.

And in less than three days we were asked if we could meet with the professor on Monday evening, May 24 - after his return from an overseas trip.

I am still pinching myself as we hurry to get ourselves ready to return to Singapore for an unknown duration.