Just spent the past three days going to the diagnostic center, undergoing a series of laboratory tests, KUB (Kidney Urinary Bladder ultrasound), CEA (cancer marker testing) and visiting my two doctors, Dr. Samuel Ang, my surgical oncologist at the Chinese General Hospital and Dr. Jeff Peter Jubilado, my new urologist at Mission Hospital. Every three months, I have to report back to either one of my medical oncologist, Dr. Priscilla Caguioa at the UST Hospital or to Dr. Ang for consultation.
Of all the laboratory tests that I’ve been through, there are really one or two things I hate most – that of having a KUB and undergoing colonoscopy. It’s almost a year now since I had major surgery at the Chinese General Hospital and it’s almost a year too since my life has turned upside down, not knowing what the future holds. Being diagnosed with colon cancer or any cancer for that matter is really a nightmare. A month ago, I was again hospitalized for a kidney bypass, they inserted a DJ stent which will stay inside for three months, hence this KUB ultrasound which I really abhor. Imagine yourself almost bursting at the seams, but you are not allowed to use the ladies’ room because you have to be on a full bladder before they would start on the ultrasound. It is so inconvenient, but again necessary for your well-being. I am not against colonoscopy per se but what I hate is the preparation prior to the procedure. I have resigned myself that this would be a yearly ritual from now on.
When you are sick, you always look at life with renewed faith, trusting and leaving everything in God’s hands. It is quite scary though to anticipate the results of the laboratory tests. And you can only utter, ‘thank God, thank you Lord” once you see that your CEA marker is still within the normal limits. Yes, Lord, thank you! My cancer marker test was at 1.8 from the normal limit of 0 to 5.0, something I am grateful and thankful for. My SGPT and SGOT results were so high. My liver is probably tired of all those medications that I take everyday or maybe, the high values are still the effect of my six cycles of chemotherapy.
I brought along my Thai Cuisine cookbook for something to read while waiting for Dr. Ang. Some patients of his were discussing about their ailments and I was unashamedly eavesdropping, hiding behind a face mask. I still wear one for hospital visits, being afraid to go out in crowded places until now. One patient who has a big lump in her breast said, “I will never undergo chemotherapy, if this turn out to be malignant, mamatay na kung mamatay”. I was amused at the look on her face. Then she said, “I don’t have that much money to spend on chemo anyway”. Then she turned to me, our eyes met and she asked, “Bakit po kayo naka face mask?”. They were in rapt attention when I told them what I went through. And their never-ending questions saved an otherwise boring wait. It is always easy to say that you don’t want to undergo such drastic measures like chemo or surgery but when you are in that crossroad, the choice is always hard to do.
And do you know what happiness meant for me now? It’s being told by my doctor that I don’t have to undergo colonoscopy at this time. He said, “Enjoy the rest of the year Arlene, we will schedule it by January next year“. Wow, those words were music to my ears. And he kept saying “Very good, very good, you are okay”. I told him about my new urologist and when he heard that it was Dr. Jubilado, he told me to stick to the latter because he is a very good doctor. It turned out that Dr. Samuel Ang was Dr. Jubilado’s mentor. What a small world!
“The time to be happy is now.
And the place to be happy is here.
And the way to be happy is to make others happy
and we’ll have a little Heaven right here.”- anonymous