Let’s start the story with the diagnosis of my colon cancer. On 9 Jan 2016, I went to the GP for pre-employment medical check up; it’s part of the process of getting my confirmation for a job that I was already on for 6 months. During the check up, doctor noticed a mass at my left abdomen so he insisted me to meet a gastroenterologist.
A week later on 16 Jan 2016, I met Dr CS Wong at Sime Darby Medical Center to have the painless mass checked. The mass has become more subtle then and he suspected it to be a poop. “It’s probably a piece of shit,” he said. Yes, my doctor was frank and I was cool about it.
I was given Fortrans to clear my bowel on 17 Jan for a follow up on the morning of 18 Jan. I only spent less than 3 minutes in Dr CS Wong’s clinic before he told me he needs to perform an endoscopy because he can still feel the mass at my bowel area even though I have cleared my bowel with 2 liters of Fortrans.
Little did I know that the endoscopy was considered a daycare admission that’d require me to pay RM2000 deposit. Unprepared, I contacted my insurance agent and we got it processed immediately.
Prior to my colonoscopy, I met a radiologist who did an ultrasound scan on my abdomen area. When he saw the mass, he said, “It looks like a poop to me.” In my heart, I thought that if the colonoscopy really found a poop stuck to my bowel for months, that’d be a joke of my life. Dr CS Wong said, “Let’s hope so” and left the room.
I spent the next few hours taking another 2 liters of Fortrans because Dr CS Wong said I was “full of shit” (in his words). After 10 rounds to the toilet, I was finally allowed to undergo colonoscopy where a camera attached on a tube was inserted from my buttock. I was sedated during the process of course.
When I was awake from my sedation, I asked the nurse what they found inside and the nurse told me to wait for doctor. At the recovery ward in and out of my consciousness, I heard Dr CS Wong telling me, “I need to send you for CT scan. For that, we’d do a blood test first.” Before I went for colonoscopy, he told me he’d send me for CT scan if they can’t find anything wrong via endoscopy so I assumed that was the case.
It was already 5pm when I was awake from my sedation. RK has arrived after work, also startled by the sudden procedures that I had to go through even though I only came in for clinic consultation in the morning.
It was almost 7pm when CT scan was done. Doctor told me to return on morning of 18 Jan for the report and so I did.
Before collecting the CT scan report, I checked my colonoscopy report and saw that they found a tumor in my colon. Trying to remain cool and objective, I Googled the differences between tumor, polyp and ulcer. Minutes before entering Dr CS Wong’s office, I learned that tumor can only mean two things: cancerous or non-cancerous.
I am a person who believes in my instinct. At the moment, I was pretty composed. I told myself it’d just be a benign tumor that I have to remove. If it’s a malignant tumor, “Wow. I’d be a young cancer survivor“; that’s what I thought.
I walked in Dr CS Wong’s clinic alone as he was flipping through my reports with a frown on his forehead. “You’re in big trouble, girl.” Alright…. And that’s when I calmly took the diagnosis of my colon cancer. He asked me why I was so calm though my eyes were welling up. I guess the news hasn’t settled in yet. Also, I knew that the last thing I want is being paranoid alone in the hospital.
He told me he’d refer me to a surgeon that day itself and I left his clinic in tears.
I immediately texted my insurance agent to break the news and asked for advice on next steps. We agreed to keep the news from my mom first since she didn’t know about my meeting with the gastroenterology specialist even.
I called RK to break the news and that’s when I broke down for the first time. Thankfully, RK was very positive and supportive. He reassured me that it’s all good because it’s detected early and that I’m young enough to fight it. I have no clue how this 25-year-old boyfriend can take this news so well.
Both Dr CS Wong and my insurance agent recommended Dr Samuel Tay for the surgery. While waiting to meet Dr Samuel Tay, I knew I needed support and started texting a few close friends that could be my confidants, at least until I break the news to my mom.
By lunchtime, I met Dr Samuel Tay, I believe on a special appointment out of his clinic. In comparison to the frank and speedy Dr CS Wong, Dr Samuel Tay was man of soft words; he listens more than he speaks.
But in his few words, he told me he’d arrange for a surgery within a week to remove the tumor and a portion of my bowel. He explained that there’s 5% chance of a colostomy bag (foreign words to me at that point) and that I’d be on low residue diet (foreign words too) until surgery.
I left Sime Darby Medical Center with very mixed emotions, and was on the way to meet my ex boss, the most important confidant during the early stage of my diagnosis. Will speak more on these later.
How did I feel about the diagnosis?
Mixed. Puzzled. But generally still composed.
On one hand I was glad that the poop-stuck-in-my-intestine mystery was resolved but questioned why it had to be malignant tumor instead of a polyps.
I wondered if I should keep the news behind closed doors but almost immediately felt it’s my responsibility to spread awareness about this. So many specialists have told me it’s a poop in my bowel, until they saw it on the camera via colonoscopy because I am too young to be suspected of a 50-year-old man’s disease.
I felt life was a little unfair but also felt that life could be worse, a lot worse. And tried to feel thankful that it’s detected early at young age when I’m still strong and can focus on recovery. Actually I felt thankful a lot of times because there were many special incidences that I thought lead to this early diagnosis. I shall share more later when everything is sorted out.
My biggest worry at this point in time was breaking the news to my mom. I could not hold back tears every time I thought of that.
So one common question that people always have is what stage is it? I don’t know. Will have to wait for surgery report to be able to tell if it has gone to the lymph nodes and to dictate if any follow up treatment (chemotherapy) is necessary. *fingers crossed*