I HAD CANCER: The Sign and The Diagnosis – NPC

I am no health professional, but I guess this channel would be the best opportunity for me to share about my cancer experience.

Yup, exactly five years ago, I was diagnosed with Nasopharyngeal Cancer Stage III. I was 37 years old mom who was at the peak of my career in one of the Fortune500 in Malaysia.

The Early Signs

It all started with me having a teeny weeny lump on right neck which wasn’t painful at all. I wasn’t worried at all. The lump was there for about five months that it was quite visible. I decided to go to the GP and was prescribed an antibiotic as the doctor suspected it was just either a bacterial or viral infection. I completed the course but the lump did not reduce. Yet, due to no pain, I did take it for granted and ignored it. On the seventh month, the lump was getting bigger and I went back to the GP, another GP, who asked me to come and visit me after a week should the medicine he prescribed didn’t show any positive respond. This time, I did went for a follow up check-up, which I was then being directed to seek ENT advise, immediately. The doctor told me, there’s a possibility of thyroid issue or cancerous.

I guess it worth a sharing that along the line, I did picked up few other symptoms which I thought was just a normal occasionally me being ‘unwell’. Among those were my bleeding nose which occurred once a while (perhaps it was once fortnightly) which I thought it was just because of the weather (yea, blame it to the weather) and I wasn’t getting sufficient amount of plain water. I thought! There were times that my voices changes and I thought it was because of my bad habit not getting enough water. I totally lost my voice the night I went to Linkin Park concert in Bukit Jalil before the concert even started. I came back with no voice for a week and my husband and my colleagues thought I had so much fun that night that I lost my sanity, I did 🙂

As I visited Dr Koh,the ENT specialist in GIMC, I was prescribed with another antibiotic with no positive outcome after a week. That was when I was told to arrange a visit to see Dr Yeo, the ENT head-and-neck surgeon in PCMC.

The Test

I went to meet Dr Yeo and he suggested me to undertake few test which was scheduled two days after. He took the blood sample and I went through the X-ray, the CT-scan and also the FNA test. X-ray and blood sample were nothing new to me but CT-scan and FNA test were such an experience.

The CT-scan that I had was with contrast, a dye (barium sulphate, if I wasn’t mistaken) inserted via my vein just to see clearer details of my blood vessels, organs or other structures. I was asked to lie down on the CT-scan machine and as the contrast ‘crept’ through my veins, I felt a gush of warm fluid all over inside my body, to some extent, while my body was in the machine while the CT-scan was running, my body felt like burning due to the contrast. It was such a discomfort feeling. The test came about half an hour (if I could recalled, or maybe not) after that. I threw our immediately after that and was asked to drink a lot of water for the next 24 hours to flush out the contrast. It was a total discomfort.

Upon completed my CT-scan, I went to see Dr Yeo, who prepared me for the FNA test, an abbreviation for Fine Needle Aspiration test for a biopsy. The name ‘fine’made me less worried. Silly me! Less that I knew it was worse than I could imagine. It was just a procedure where the specialist poked needles on my lump to take few samples of the fluid in it. It was painful and nothing that I’ve expected it to be.

I was asked to come back a week after, which, I still took it for granted and decided to meet Dr Yeo two weeks after with my husband. I’ll share about the diagnosis and prognosis in my next post,ya.

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