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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Samuel Ang’


The last few days were spent sharing with Nissa and some of our friends over the phone. It was so nice to get in touch with friends again and lovely to know they were praying for Nissa’s quick recovery. I got to see her sis-in law and brother-in-law at the hospital. Haven’t seen them since Nate’s kinder graduation last March.

Talking about anything under the sun from our pet dogs to our health and getting old. Yes, growing and getting old is one of our favorite topics. Sometimes you can’t help but think about it when you feel those aches and pains that suddenly manifest themselves and they catch you unaware. Last Thursday, I had a long trip (close to three hours going home from the hospital because of traffic. I almost could not walk when I alighted from the jeepney because of muscle pains. My legs were aching like crazy. Add that to the weight of my travelling bag ūüė¶

I saw again that ice cream vendor at the university campus on my way home. He is the same man I used to see when Nissa was still studying there. Talk about the rituals of our lives. He seems comfortable selling ice cream inside the campus. There are lots of fast food chains and a couple of high-end restaurants inside the campus fronting the UST hospital, they cater mostly to students. You won’t need to go outside the perimeter of the university to alleviate your hunger pangs.

One of Nissa’s doctors asked me if I am her mom. I told him in passing that I am a survivor for ten years now under the care of Dr. Samuel Ang, a¬† surgical oncologist recommended by my OB GYN. He said that Dr. Ang is also practising in UST and that his son, a doctor too¬† was his schoolmate.¬† Oh to meet people who are caring enough to know a little about you….what a blessing.

Haha, Nissa and I talked about our doctors one night at the hospital and we were laughing when she said that most of them are so handsome in their white medical attire. So agree ūüôā

Meeting friends all over again, meeting new ones, we are doubly blessed.

 

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“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true. “ -Thomas Merton

Every second Sunday of the month I make it a point to watch Fr. Fernando Suarez¬† on TV, an early morning mass on ABS-CBN.¬† He is a healing priest and it has become a sort of ritual for me to wait for his healing prayers and be blessed. Back when I was sick and recuperating from an illness, when it was impossible to go out¬† and mingle with people, hearing mass on TV kept me anchored. I’m well able to attend regular masses¬† at our village chapel or in our Parish for quite some time now but out of habit, I still look forward to watching¬† the celebration on TV, be it Fr. Gerry Orbos, Fr. Joey¬† Faller, I love them all. This morning, I was touched by the stories shared by Fr. Suarez, about little children who were healed and one thing that I remembered him saying was this, “sometimes it is better that you are poor, because the only way that you’ll get cured is your faith and trust in God” . Not exactly his words but what he was driving at was this, if you have the money to consult a doctor, you rely on the doctor’s expertise for you to get well but if the only thing left is your belief that you’ll be cured, you will be.¬† He emphasized further that every time we attend mass, we are healed. Every mass is a healing mass, and healing comes not just physically but we are healed of our hurts, insecurities¬† and unbelief.¬† Listen to God’s words and how He speaks to us¬† in silence.¬† And at the most quiet place in our heart, we hear His voice.

What a wonderful feeling to experience God’s miracles.¬† I’ve blogged about this time and again. Last Friday, I met another wonderful doctor. Dr. Jonard Tan Co, is a gastroenterologist. He specializes in Diagnostic and Interventional Endoscopy and Endoscopic Ultrasound (I hope I got this right). Earlier on, Dr. Samuel Ang, my surgical oncologist asked me if I’m done with my colonoscopy so I¬† honestly told him that the procedure is so expensive compared to the one I underwent two years ago before my sigmoid surgery. He immediately called up Dr. Co, (they spoke in Chinese) and told me to drop by the latter’s clinic before I go home. More than the joy of meeting¬† another doctor, I was thrilled when Dr. Co quoted a sum lower than what Dr. Ang¬† estimated for the procedure. He wrote it at the back of his calling card and told me to show it to him when I am ready to undergo another colonoscopy.¬† Colonoscopy is an endoscopic examination of the colon. It can detect¬† polyps as small as one millimeter or less. The wonder of meeting¬† these people, I do think he is another angel sent by God to watch over me.

I am truly grateful for everything,  God is always  there for me, for us, and for my family.

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It’s one of those mornings that I am particularly excited and at the same time I feel that sort of apprehension, hoping that the day would be favorable for me.¬† We left the house early to get the results of my ultrasound, laboratory tests and CEA marker testing¬† and to keep another appointment with my surgical oncologist, Dr. Samuel Ang. It’s almost four months since my last check-up last November 2010.¬† I asked hubby to get the results for me while I waited in the car for a¬† few minutes,¬† silently praying¬† that everything would be normal but at the same time telling myself¬† that¬† whatever it is, I will humbly accept it without complaint.

You are strong Arlene and believe that you are healed“, that’s a silent chanting¬† playing in my head. “Lord,” I said, You have journeyed with me the past two years that I’ve struggled to get well, I know everything would be okay.” Tears were silently falling when hubby handed me the thick envelope from the Diagnostic Center.¬† The results were not just okay, they¬† were excellent and they moved me to tears. My CEA marker is 1.2¬† (normal level is between 0 to 5) so I am¬† in the normal range. All my lab tests are normal too. CEA¬† or Carcinoembryonic antigen is a tumor marker, a protein found in many types of cells but associated¬† with tumors and developing fetus. It is useful in monitoring the treatment of CEA-rich tumors. It was almost a year ago that I’ve undergone CEA testing, right after I’ve finished my last chemotherapy¬† and a year is long enough to live a normal life without worrying about another test.

God really works wonders in our lives,¬† although at times it takes a major setback for us to fully realize it. God’s love is truly immeasurable.¬† Being healthy is a gift from God. I sometimes look back at the days and months that I was in pain physically and emotionally and I marvel how God made me feel secure in His love, knowing that those days were just His ways of telling me to always trust and never lose faith.¬† And I remember this message from Footprints in the Sand.

“My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

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I was supposed to have my check-up late last month but I was a little busy at home so I postponed it till today.¬† It’s kind of weird sometime to feel afraid to see the results of the laboratory tests. I guess, it is really something inevitable and no matter what the outcome, you have to accept it.¬† We passed by New World Diagnostic Center to get the lab results then proceeded to the Chinese General Hospital for an appointment with my surgical oncologist, Dr. Samuel Ang. He was a little late arriving at the clinic and the secretary explained that he had to handle an emergency surgery.

Dr. Samuel Ang is a very caring and¬† wonderful doctor.¬† I finally brought a camera and told him I am still doing some blogs about him.¬† He just smiled and told me to give him the link to my blog.¬† He shared that some of his patients were able to find him through the internet.¬† I just said, it is my small way of saying¬† “thank you” for taking care of me.

Dr. Samuel Ang and me!

I am scheduled for another check-up come January 2011 – colonoscopy, CEA marker testing, liver ultrasound and the usual lab tests that I need to undergo every three months.¬†¬† My SGPT/SGOT results were still a bit high but compared to my last laboratory tests, they have gone down significantly and Dr. Ang explained that sometimes,¬† these are still the effects of chemotherapy.¬† It’s¬† almost a year now since my last chemo and I am really glad that finally, I am getting every bit stronger day by day, being able to do the things I used to do.

Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center

I have this interesting conversation with some of the patients waiting at Dr. Ang’s clinic.¬† They were asking if he has been my doctor for long and I told them he operated on me July of last year.¬† It was followed by six cycles of chemotherapy at the Benavidez Cancer Institute in UST. One of them said, “you are looking good, parang hindi ka nagkasakit.” I’ve often asked myself, “how should you look when you’ve been diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and underwent rigorous chemotherapy sessions?” Everytime I meet people who didn’t know what I have gone through, they are simply amazed that I look okay.¬† I thank God most of all for letting me go on with life, still enjoying it with my family until now.

Dr. Ang said, ” Congratulations Arlene” with that big smile on his face and that matters a lot because I know that I will get through¬† this, that I would be hundred percent fit again!¬†¬† I’d like to bear this in mind,¬† “he who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything”.

God is so good, all the time!

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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


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The stark truth is that I was afraid. I was afraid of going under the knife again. Nine years ago, I had my first major surgery due to endemetriosis.¬† My¬† OB-gynecologist had to do a total hysterectomy to prevent further damage to my reproductive system.¬† I accepted that wholeheartedly and I recovered pretty fast. But when you knew that another surgery would be a life-changing one, everything comes into focus.¬† The only thing that kept me sane during those dark days was my complete and unwavering faith in the Lord.¬† This line kept playing in my head, “let go and let God take charge of my life for me”.

I entered Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center on July 12th at around 2:30pm with a bouquet of fresh and gorgeous flowers waiting for me at the information desk.  It was personally delivered by one of my friends at Multiply, Mary An.  She knew that I love flowers and her sweet gestures made me smile.  How thoughtful!  It was an uncomfortable night of taking laxatives and undergoing water enema.

July 13, 2009  РMonday

Had my first IV starting at 7am, I was no longer allowed to eat any solid food, not even a drop of water.  My high school friends came to visit РVicky, Beth, Lor, Edna and Liza.  Another night of extensive water enema and taking another bottle of laxatives.  If there is one thing which was very hard for me to tolerate, it was the process of drinking a bottle of castor oil.

I received several inspirational texts from close friends. They offered prayers and masses for me.

July 14, 2009 – Tuesday

I was fetched from my room at exactly 6am, was taken at the O.R. at the 2nd floor.¬† I was a bit groggy by then but I still managed to pray mentally while the monitor attached to my arm had its steady beep.¬† At 7:15am, I saw Dr. Ang’s face (he is my oncologist).¬† My journey has begun.¬† I knew nothing until I woke up at 12:15pm at the recovery room and saw Dr. dela Cruz (my cardiologist), one of the kindest if not the kindest doctor I’ve ever encountered.¬† It was three hours of agony watching the clock until 3pm.¬† My blood pressure has dramatically dropped down so I had to stay there for a while.¬† I had chills and aching body. I’ve been operated on before at the UST Hospital but nothing can compare to the noise, loud laughter and loud talks in CGH’s recovery room.¬† It seemed that they were quite indifferent to the plight of recovering patients.¬† Or was I just too sensitive, seeking silence while my body ached?¬† The nurse assigned to me was even “suplada”, to search for a better word.¬† I was taken to my room at 3:15pm.¬† That’s right, I kept watching the clock like a hawk watching its prey.

It was the longest night I ever had in my life. Aside from back pains, guarded movements because of my surgery (they did a resection of my colon, aptly called sigmoidectomy), I experienced the worst stomach pain/hyper acidity due to no food intake.  It was my third day of abstaining from food. Ate Violy (my  sis-in-law) arrived from San Antonio and she sat with me the whole night, alternating with the hubby.  The room where I was initially assigned to had a defective air conditioning.  I survived the night just turning my head from side to side, uttering a silent prayer that my agony would end.

July 15, 2009 – Wednesday

My daughter, mom my brother and sis-in-law came for a visit.  Blessed relief, I was able to transfer to another room and it was cool.  My daughter  stayed with me for two days and one night so hubby could go home to rest.  With still three bottles of IV attached to both arms, I woke in the middle of the night with my left arm in pain. The IV bottle was empty.  How neglectful could they be? I could not sleep the rest of the night because every time my eyes opened, it was almost always drawn to the IV bottle attached to me. Luckily, the nurse was able to aspirate it.

July 16, 2009  РThursday

Alden came for a lightning visit despite the heavy rains and typhoon.¬† Thursday night was a repeat of the previous one – my IV got clogged and it was more painful. I was waiting for the assigned nurse just to make a simple apology to no avail.¬† She even told me that they might have to transfer it to my right arm. I flared up! I would understand if it only happened once, but two nights in a row, that’s negligence on their part right?

Next came the male nurse and a resident intern.¬† It took them almost two hours to locate a good vein (after two attempts, pumuputok at lumolobo yung vein ko). I have small veins, the rest almost invisible. That’s why I am afraid of needles, they never seem to get it in one shot.¬† I have half a dozen needle marks in my two hands, two of which still bear bluish mark while another one has turned yellow.¬† All my medications the first five days of surgery were injectables – pain reliever, antibiotics, medicine for hyperacidity etc. It’s my 5th day of no food, no liquids etc.

July 17, 2009 – Friday

I could turn sideways, walk a step or two, could text all my friends back since my left hand was free.¬† I lived through all those inspirational texts, messages of concern, mass offerings and constant prayers from friends and family.¬† Special thanks go to my five high school friends, Lor, Edna, Vicky, Liza and Beth, Mary An, my Multiply friend who always get in touch, Alma, a fellow Flipper who prayed for me during my operation, Lovell, who never fails to text me almost everyday and offering mass for me too and to Tobbie, another friend from KSA. Thank you so much for considering me as your older sister. And to all my other online friends and relatives who constantly prayed for me, thanks!¬† My thanks to Dahil, another best friend from the US who called me up at the hospital and Wing, a former neighbor and friend who now resides in Virginia, my sis-in-law, Ate Edna together with her kids who came for a visit despite the continuing rains, Sr. Thea, a friend since my teen years for those words of encouragement, my two other angels, Jomari, our neighbor and my son Josef for volunteering to donate blood so I could be operated on. I guess, it’s now a standing policy of every hospital for a patient to have at least two blood donors (of any type of blood) before they would schedule you for operation.

July 18, 2009 – Saturday

Alleluia!¬† I could now take one teaspoon of water every hour.¬† Blessed, blessed improvement from several days of parched and cracked lips.¬† Now, I realized that those daily¬† rituals which we often¬† ignore like drinking water become manna from heaven whe you are denied of it for a long time.¬† I saw the sun’s rays behind the blue curtains at the wide windows, signalling a day of new hope. I could walk around my room now, sit for an hour or two in the two plastic chairs provided by the hospital. I even tried sitting at the small bed provided for patient’s companion. It felt uncomfortable because it was so low.

My high school friends came back for another visit, so thoughtful. I spent an hour listening to them recall our high school days together. Lovell came by despite a very hectic schedule, he just planed in from Davao and had to attend a whole day Saturday class in UST.  Nothing could beat a few moments of happiness when you are surrounded by people who truly cares.  I spent the night a little more comfortable than the previous nights before.

Sunday onwards until I was discharged from the hospital were days of recuperating, slowly gaining strength despite the limited intake of food.¬† I was only allowed soft diet until a few days after I left the hospital.¬† My best friend Karen and her hubby visited me Sunday morning. I am back at home now, enjoying a brief respite from the dark days and nights of having my sigmoid resection.¬† Two days ago, I learned from my oncologist that I am on Stage 3 so there is really no choice for me but to undergo a minimum of six sessions of chemotherapy to a maximum of eight.¬† And as I’ve said before, I am enjoying the brief time which I call my “pre-chemo days”. And I really, really thank God for being always there for me. More than ever I felt His presence during those days and nights that I can’t sleep, thinking of nothing in particular but to get well and enjoy life again.

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Our Trip To The Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center

This is it!¬† I’m going to see an oncologist, Dr. Samuel¬† Ang at the CGHMC.¬† He was the one who operated on my brother when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer six years ago.¬† (He is doing fine, has completely recovered after undergoing chemotherapy, thank God).

We left the house around 8am, a bus commute from Ortigas Ext. to Greenhills.¬† Thursday is a color-coding day for our car.¬† It was a smooth trip going to the hospital except for a slight traffic near the entrance of Manila North Cemetery. I actually saw two¬† funeral cars almost side by side entering one of the largest, if not the largest cemetery in Metro Manila.¬† The taxi driver commented that nowadays, it’s costly to bury the dead.¬† I agree, I think you need to pay a monthly tax/rent (usually done in public cemeteries) so you would be assured that your dead loved ones¬† would still be there on your next All Soul’s Day visit. Sigh!¬† You’re never assured of anything even in death.

Waiting is not one of my greatest virtues.  I must admit, sometimes, I find it hard to accept that I arrive on the dot if not earlier at the appointed place and time only to learn that the person I am waiting for comes late.  But I am digressing here again, okay, okay!  We arrived at the hospital at around 9:40am, not bad, considering that we live in Cainta and the hospital is in the heart of Metro Manila.

It was quite easy to locate Dr. Ang’s clinic, it’s at the ground floor of the new building at CGHMC.¬† His clinic hours begin at 12pm but there were already other patients who arrived ahead of us.¬† I am quite intrigued, alongside the doctors’ names are Chinese characters, maybe, they are the Chinese¬† equivalent of their Christian names.¬† Some of them were quite familiar to me, they were former Science students in UST.¬† Back when I was still working as a student librarian, I met lots of them at the library.¬† And I’m glad, really glad to learn that Dr. Samuel Ang is also a Thomasian like me.

Here I am, doing a draft of my blog while waiting.¬† Perhaps, you’ll agree that it is a more productive¬† pursuit than thinking of what the doctor will say when he sees the biopsy done on my colonoscopy.¬† There is a nice food shop at the hospital complex.¬† Chowking, Jollibee and Nathan’s.¬† Nathan’s have pork barbeque and grilled chicken.¬† I don’t want to eat such heavy meals this early so I opted to order breakfast at Jollibee – your typical half-cup of fried rice, meaty hotdog and poached egg with a tepid cup of brewed coffee.¬† Though I occasionally drink the brew, I like it hot so hubby requested for a new hot cup.

Oh yes, there’s the familiar cart of Fruitas (Fresh from Babot’s Farm kuno, it’s just a tag line, mind you).¬† I tried the Four Seasons, a combination of apple, carrots, mango and pineapple.¬† They call it Spring.¬† At P59 per 12oz. paper cup, it is reasonable enough.¬† There is a small grocery store called C-Mart, selling everything from bottled drinks, chichiria to baby and adult diapers.¬† There’s a cake shop too, how enterprising.

Meeting Dr. Samuel Ang

I finally met Dr. Samuel Ang, a general surgeon, a surgical oncologist and a Diplomate, American Board of Surgery.  I was impressed, he graduated Magna Cum Laude at the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.  He immediately gave a laboratory request for my brother when I mentioned that the latter was a former patient of his.  He personally called up my gastroenterologist and wrote a letter to my OB-Gynecologist thanking her for referring me to him.  He promised to give a discount on his professional fee because he understands the hardships patients go through when undergoing major surgeries like this.

And the verdict?¬† He will have to do a re-sectioning of my sigmoid colon, cut the 18 cm. portion affected by the sigmoid mass.¬† I need clearance from a cardiologist so he referred me to one, Dr. Alvin dela Cruz, another super-bait doctor at the hospital.¬† I need to complete the laboratory requirements before my scheduled surgery. and I thank God that I found a compassionate friend and doctor in my OB-Gynecologist, Dr. Ditas Decena (UST Hospital). Dr. Decena and I go back twenty years – that’s long enough for a patient-doctor relationship, don’t you think?¬† I am also thankful that she referred me to Dr. Samuel Ang. I know, with them around, I am in good hands.

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