How do you compose yourself to break the news to your child that you have Cancer?
Well today, that’s what I did. Three words – “I have Cancer” but it will be the most difficult three words I had to utter so far in my existence. I have been diagnosed with Endometrial Cancer today. We do not know which stage it is yet as docs would need to do cancer staging plus perform the op to remove my uterus, my fallopian tubes, my ovaries and my lymph nodes and send them for further pathology tests before determining the severity and spread. But one thing for sure: my life has been irrevocably changed from this day on.
5pm, 7 Feb 2018
I wanted my 10 year old to be among the first to know as she has been praying for me. I downplayed the severity a few notches, took advantage of a quiet moment during dinner and presented it matter-of-factly, with my voice cracking towards the end, “Dana, Mommy has Cancer…” I went on to assure her that Mommy will undergo surgery and cancer treatments, and Mommy will be soon well (But truthfully, will I? Can I?).
12.30pm, 7 Feb 2018
The husb grasped my hand, as if he could sense my unease as we waited for our turn at the gynae’s clinic. I had received a call from the clinic yesterday saying the doctor wishes to see me urgently as my pathology results from D&C were out. Prognosis is not good.
We stepped into the room with Dr. Ong looking v solemn. ‘Angie, the results were not good at all. You have Cancer.”
I steeled myself. I had rehearsed this in my mind a thousand times, telling myself I mustn’t break down because the good doc had already pre-warned me that the tissue samples looked ‘abnormal’. But when Cancer is your diagnosis, the harsh reality hits like a ton of brick, bringing me back to reality from my wishful thinking that perhaps it was just a false alarm or a bad dream.
As the doctor rattled off the complicated string of surgeries, treatments and risks ahead for me, I let the news slowly sink in. I.HAVE.CANCER. ME, at 42, CANCER. And then, the dam broke. I wept. I felt sorry for my kids, I felt afraid of the savage side effects of Cancer radio-therapies and chemo-therapies. No one in my family had cancer, not my aunts, not my Mum nor my MIL… I felt ashamed. Why am I always the (unlucky) one with medical issues? I felt concerned if our insurances would be sufficient to cover the treatment expenses (the op itself will cost a whopping SGD40K!) but more so, I wept because I felt I’ve let my dear husband, the best husband I can ask for, down (yet again).
As the doc detailed how I would have to be away from work due to the radiation therapies, I felt even more defeated. I had come to love the work I do and embrace the team I had newly assembled. To be away from them during this peak period pained me. What would my new Director and co-workers think of me? Plans to bring the kids back to celebrate CNY with their maternal Penang Grandma will have to be abandoned, as with our June travel plans. Bummer. Cancer you stinky thief!
2.40pm, 7 Feb 2018
After the medical financial counselling was done, we adjourned to a nearby restaurant to grab a late lunch. I had no appetite and ordered a plain soba. I sent out several whatsapp messages to selected friends, family and colleagues about my Cancer diagnosis. All shocked but yet so empathetic…’We are so sorry to hear of this, Angie….’, ‘How can we help?’…’Don’t worry about work ok? Take care of yourself…’. Wikipedia explains Empathy as the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. You have no idea how empathy in the face of adversity (such as Cancer diagnosis) works like a miracle healing balm even before all the treatments commence.
5.30pm, 7 Feb 2018
A group of close co-workers texted to let me know that they’ve arranged a lunch to cheer me on before I go for my op next Tuesday. An ex-neighbour, who hasn’t been told of my diagnosis decided to swing by unannounced with a thermos full of home-brewed ginseng drink for me. Small gestures of goodwill that did heaps to fill my love tank. God knows my love language.
6.45pm, 7 Feb 2018
Picked the son (cheerful as ever) from childcare and the husb brought us out for a walk at Chinatown to keep my mind from brooding. It felt good to have some semblance of normalcy, like the calm before a storm, doing normal things families without Cancer do – eating, window-shopping, soaking in the festivities. I gripped the hands of my 2 littles tighter, grieving the possibility that I might never have the chance to see them grow up, get married, have children of their own…
11.00pm, 7 Feb 2018
Broke my news to a group of Christian Moms on FB and they have collectively offered to set the alarm for 13 Feb 4.30pm so they can pray for me as I undergo my surgery. Surgical table code 6A. Surgical name: Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy + Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy + Pelvic Lymphadenectomy. Sounds complex? Because it is. The surgery will last 3 hrs, probably the longest I have ever been under General Anaesthesia. I hate GA. I attribute my worsening memory to it…
11.17pm, 7 Feb 2018
Whatsapp messages, FB messenger messages continue to stream in. The husb walked to me and gave me a tight hug….it’s been a long day emotionally for us both. I pray God will send my husband, the caregiver of a Cancer-stricken wife, ample support too.
Before we left, the doc reminds me that the journey ahead will be long and the ‘mountain’ we have to conquer will not be easy. The silver lining is that God is with me, and my friends, family and loved ones are rooting for me. God has blessed me and He is Good. May this new trial of my life bring glory to His name and may His will be done.
66:1 Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
66:2 sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise.
66:3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
66:4 All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.” Selah
66:5 Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
66:6 He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There we rejoiced in him,
66:7 who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations– let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah
66:8 Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,
66:9 who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
66:10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
66:11 You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;
66:12 you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to an abundant place…
A week after my surgery, we received good news from the docs that my cancer has been removed and pathology results show the cancer cells have not spread (Endometrial Cancer Stage 1A). Hence I am spared from all radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments, for now. If cancer does not recur within 5 years, docs will declare me as a Cancer Survivor. This is possibly the BEST outcome that we’ve prayed for. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude in my heart towards God, towards my family and all my friends and readers who stood in the gap for us. Thank you for crying with me, for upholding me in your thoughts and prayers, thank you for showering me with love gifts, a thousand thank yous from the bottom of my heart.
Big big hugs, Angie. I can only imagine how tough this period must be for you and David, but you must have faith and think positive thoughts, okay? We will always be here and hoping the best for you. Please remain strong (you are one of the strongest women I know), take care of yourself and keep us posted each step of the way. Jia you Angie, fighting!
Oh Angie…. my heart aches for you, and I will continue to keep you in prayer. May God be with you along each and every step of the way, and reassure you that He is in total control. Hue huge hugs.
Lyn Teo says
Dear Angie, I am a reader of your blog. Take care of yourself, you will be able to see your kids grow up, get married….All will turn out well, being optimistic helps in recovery.
Big big hugs! Can’t imagine at all what u must feel. Will be praying for full recovery in Jesus’ name! Will also set my alarm on 13 Feb 4.30 to pray for you. Believing together with you!
Jesus is greater than any enemy we face in this life. We overcome because He has overcome, and our lives are hidden in Christ. May God cover you with peace. May He bring healing in the face of hard news. May He give deep, abiding joy that makes no sense to the world. May he provide comfort and care as He wraps you in His arms. Amen!
Emily New says
*Hugs* I’m so sorry to hear this. Your post really shocked me. I know nothing that I say can make the situation better now, but at least to let you know that I’ll be praying for you. And I’ll always be sending positive thoughts. You’re stronger than you know, braver than you think and more loved than you can imagine. All will turn out well and I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery. Take care, Angie!
Lyn Lee says
Hugs Angie, you know we are here for you. Supporting and rooting for you every step of the way. Our Lord is carrying you every moment of this journey too. Take heart.
I’ve always loved reading your blog. Please stay strong and conquer this mountain! And return stronger than ever. I will pray for you too. May God bless you and family!
Jayme Tan says
Dear Angie, reading this just breaks my heart. 😭 I’m praying for you, for total recovery, for treatments to work so effectively for you and for the peace of God to be upon you and your family. Sending tons of hugs and love to you ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Agnes Lim says
Oh, so sad to hear that. But I believe you are warrior and will be able to defeat anything. Be strong and you will definitely be OK. Has been a silent reader since the birth of Dana cos my son shares the same birth date as her.
Uncle David says
My dearest Angie,
It shocked me when you revealed the doctor letter to me. It breaks my heart even further when I read this blog detailing your emotional feelings as you walked through this painful and difficult journey with David, Dana and buddy.
Be strong as everyone including your most beloved ones are supporting and rooting for you knowing that God is in total control. Like the picture you posted in this blog “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” – Isaiah 43:2
As a family, we (Aunt Sarah, cousins Zachary, Jeremy and Nehemiah) have added your current situation to the top of our prayer list and earnestly seeking God intervention for total elimination of the cancerous cells in your body.
Last but not least, let me end with a prayer of Faith for you and your family.
By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, I soak every day of your life in the blood of Jesus. I decree unstoppable advancement upon your life in Jesus name. The mighty hand of God is upon your life, upholding and protecting you from all those who rise up against you in Jesus’ Name.
God has made His grace available for you, anywhere the soles of your feet tread upon, will produce blessings and healing in Jesus name. The spirit of favor, counsel come upon you in Jesus Mighty name. Your ears shall hear good news, you shall walk in victory and liberty of the spirit every day in Jesus name. Pains and sorrow will not visit you or your home in Jesus Merciful name. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Amen.
Dear Angie and David,
No words can describe how this news hits me. Be strong for each other and I pray treatment will be successful. Take care.
May our God still the storm in your heart and draws you deep into His presence, knowing His peace that surpasses understanding. You are very loved by Him and many. Trust that He will always be with you and your family. Keeping you and your family in prayer.
May the Lord be with you. I will be praying for your full recovery. God Bless.