WRITING: ReMISSION

I cried yesterday. I cried while waiting for the dinner to be served on our table in our nice cozy neighbourhood mamak’s place. I cried when I wanted to place our order for dinner and the waiter gave me an empty look, still waiting for my order. I snapped. Not to the waiter though, but to the boys. I asked them to place the order, instead. And they were so obedient following to my instructions, placing their orders and asked me politely what was it that I wanted to have for dinner. I snapped. And I shouldn’t. I snapped because I could hear myself so loud and clear, yet the waiter did not give any respond. I snapped and I blame the boys, and I shouldn’t.

The oncologists label it as remission. Google Dictionary defines it as (1) the cancellation of a debt, charge or penalty; (2) a diminution of the seriousness or intensity of disease or pain; a temporary recovery; or (3) forgiveness of sins. Boots WebMD (webmd.boots.com) defines it as a word doctors often use when talking about cancer. It means that after cancer treatment, there are no signs of the cancer. Complete remission means that tests, physical exams and scans show that all the signs of the cancer one had are gone.  I called it another fancy name for type of sickness after cancer treatment, and it’s no fun and the ending is always ambiguous. I’ve asked my onco, when will ‘this’ last? He gave me a blank look and told me ‘it depends! Some people were okay after seven to ten years, some took longer and some lucky one could fully recover after five years. It depends. But as long as the cancer is inactive, you’ll be okay.’ And apparently, I somehow find out later in life that I got conned by the meaning of remission. Of course, I am thankful for the treatment went well and after eight cycles of chemo and thirty-three cycles of tomography, I was cancer-free. Alhamdullillah.  And until today, I knew it deep inside myself, being diagnosed of getting nasopharyngeal cancer[1] stage III has always been a blessed to me, no doubt. I’ll talk about it a little later.

Chemo was bad.  Pairing it with radiotherapy made it worst. The experiences were unbearable and it will always make me lost for words when the need to describe the pain rose. It’s indescribable. To some extent, I remember saying no matter how much I hate a person for doing something evil and bad to others, I won’t pray for that person to go through that chemo-radio experience like I did. It’s not fair to any human kind.

And I thought chemo was horrible. Until I met the monster remission. Remission is supposed to be a ‘good’ word. It brings hope and energy… mentally. Going through it was another story.

It is my third going to the fourth year of remission at times me writing this down. And as much as I wanted to believe that it would get better in times, it keeps on giving me false hopes. In the end, the best solution is to wait and see. After all, I am still here, typing this out word by word while some cancer patients are struggling to survive and some has even departed.

I got a nudge for High Above. I am definitely thankful for the given chance. Imagine if I didn’t make it and leave the world.. truth was.. I was a great sinner… am not saying that I’m such a holy now, but, the least I was given another chance to repent and to prepare for the eternity life. Alhamdullilah. How can I not be thankful?

And being thankful, I shouldn’t complain. And I am not complaining. It’s just that, once a while, when the fluids from ears were overflowing and I couldn’t bear the sticky fluid coming out from my ears, I cried. And sometimes, when the constant buzzing in my ears decided to amplify itself and made both of my ears blocked badly and I could literally hear myself breathing, I cried. And sometimes, when I thought I was screaming calling my kids’ names and they were just doing whatever ignoring my call because the call was not even a call as there could any sound reaching out to their ears, I cried. Sometimes, when I was just so tired for not doing anything and all I had to do to recover was sleep hours and hours and hours on the bed and I could even had the guts to get some food into my stomach, I cried. And sometimes, when I could hardly feel anything on both my feet and my hands and my nerves were numb and to some extent I had some blood flowing on my fingers from the knife’s cut and I didn’t feel it at the time of the incident, I cried.

Once a while, I cry. Once a while, I wonder, how long will these last? Once a while, I wish things would go back to normal….  And for now, I’m settling for this being the new normal.

At times me writing this, I was reminded of Kak Nani and Hani. Two strong ladies who had their chemo complete, did the surgery to remove the damaged organs and standing strong until today. Kak Nani has been in remission for more than a decade and Hani is in her second year. I remembered asking Kak Nani, ‘How long will this lasts? When will we get our ‘normal’ life.’ And her answer, ‘I’m still waiting’ just deserved one good strong long hug, both her and myself need that comforting hug. Then, Hani came and asked me few months back, ‘When will this last? When will we be strong like we used to be?’. And dear buddy, I’m still waiting. We were never a survivor. We are surviving, till it lasts. For the time being, we just have to adapt with our new normal



[1] Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare type of head and neck cancer. It starts in the upper part of your throat, behind the nose. This area is called the nasopharynx. The nasopharynx is precariously placed at the base of your skull, above the roof of your mouth. Your nostrils open into the nasopharynx. (source: http://www.google.com)

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