The enemy of cancer

Charles Wu

In October 2016, I discovered several unusual lumps on my neck (lymph nodes). I consulted my ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor and had a biopsy of the lymph glands. It was informed that I suffered from Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).   I was referred to a medical oncologist and a consultant radiologist for treatment.

I did not feel unwell.  I have had episodes of nose bleeds when young. However, I had more than usual nose bleeds 3 times in the months preceding October when the lymph nodes were discovered.  The lumps on both sides of my neck were not painful so I thought it might be caused by infection.  Thus, by the time I was diagnosed, I had Stage 4 disease.

I had no weight loss, neither felt fatigued.  I was carrying on with my job and routine as per normal.  On receiving the bad news, I said, “OK, let’s deal with it and find ways to manage it.”   I was not shocked or panicky. My calm attitude was largely due to my belief that my Heavenly Father loves me and will take care of me as He has done for the past 65 years.

My hospital experience as a healthcare worker in USA and Singapore was immensely helpful.            In the past, I have had opportunities to help my foreign friends with doctor appointments when they underwent treatment in the National University Hospital (NUH).  Now, I’ve become a patient who will receive treatment in a cancer and radiation clinic for the next five months.

From the beginning to the end of chemotherapy (29/11/16 – 7/4/17), I did not experience the common side-effects such as bloating, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.  It was as if I was not cancer stricken at all.  My radiation caused me to have some soreness around my neck and mouth.  I requested not to be tube fed, although I had difficulties swallowing.  I was able to eat small portions of my meals with supplements of six Ensure drinks daily. The latter was coffee flavored. I loved it.  The skin dryness and mouth sores healed in time.  One year later, I still suffer from dry mouth and can only taste 80% of the flavor of the foods I ate. I was so happy when in October 2017, I was able to eat sambal and chili again!

In January 2018, a repeat MRI and scope showed clearance of my NPC.  I thank my GREAT Physician above and friends who encouraged and prayed for me. I decided not to share my plight of NPC to everyone. , but only to those who witnessed a change in me.  I lost some hair (more aging than the treatment), and 10 kg. I have regained 4 kilos already.  It’s funny how hard it is to gain as to lose weight.

From the moment they told me of my diagnosis, I have been at peace.  I trust in God (Psalms 62:8), have family love and support, plus brothers and sisters-in-Christ, like Dr. Boey and HCF, who pray constantly for me.  As I journeyed through my treatment, I was surrounded by knowledgeable and caring NUH staff who made the experience tolerable and easier to go through.

Lessons I learnt from the cancer bout:

  1. Expect the Unexpected - Things can appear suddenly and may inconvenience us.         We have to face it head- on and find ways to manage.
  2. Know Who is in charge – Life is easier if we know that each of us has limitations and our God is the One who has the final say.
  3. Cooperate - Regardless of the problem, whether illness or financial, work together with the experts to resolve the issue.
  4. Be grateful and share – your story may inspire and encourage others who are going through similar situations.  We all can be OVERCOMERS.


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