Friday, March 5, 2010

Three o'clock in the morning

Three o'clock in the morning and I am wide awake. I had slept early because I was trying to forget a lot of things that are buzzing around in my head. That is how I handle stress. Sleeping and eating. I figured that if I sleep it off it will not be as terrible as it was when i wake up. Usually I was wrong and today is no exception. I should have realized all these years that problems do not go away. They will always be there, dormant and ready to erupt anytime when I am not looking.

Monday, March 1, 2010


This is a note about a special person who is now fighting for her life against cancer. Her nieces and nephews affectionately call her Cik.

Cik is my sister in law. She is the one sister in law that I felt closest to. Maybe it is because she dotes on my two children and would always be around when needed (in cases when I had to go anywhere and there is no one else to look after them). Cik is like that with children, not just mine. She would sew baju kurung or would buy something for her nieces and nephews on special occasions like Hari Raya or birthdays. She has this knack with babies and would be able to console them when no one else can. Cik loves babies and children. I dare say that everyone of her nieces and nephews had at some point in their lives been the object of Cik's attention and love. It is a true gift especially when Cik herself is not blessed with any children of her own.

Cik was diagnosed with stage three Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of cancer, about five months ago amidst a lot of family tension and hostility. Coming from quite a conservative family with a lot of taboos and conceptions about diseases and their treatments, Cik was torn between vehement orders from her family to opt for traditional medicine and her personal option for treatments at a hospital of her choice.Even her choice of hospital was hotly debated and disagreed amongst family members. I supposed in the end it was her decision and the best that we can do is to support that decision, a concept that is not fully understood by most of the family members including my husband (Cik's brother). Maybe she is stubborn but she is the one who is sick and ultimately the one who is going to decide how to handle the situation.

Cik is brave and strong. Circumstances and her upbringing had made her so. Her poor family background forced her to work long hours helping her mum stir loads of dodol and making keropok for a living. Her never say die attitude has stood by her through her bouts of chemotherapy. I remembered after her first round of chemotherapy, she was very brave and determined to fight the side effects of the treatment. She would force herself to eat even though everything taste like 'metal' (she told me). She went through her chemotherapy quite smoothly, up until her fourth one when she started to have problems. The right side of her head suddenly became very painful and discharge came out of her right ear. She had fever and was admitted to the hospital. Doctors put her on antibiotics and gave her morphine for her constant pain in her ear and head. Not long after that she developed numbness from her hip straight down to her legs and toes. Tests revealed that her brain is swollen and the lower part of the spine is also swollen. As of the time this note is written doctors are still not able to diagnose exactly the cause of these latest developments i.e whether they are due to the cancer or some other infection.They can only do that via a lumbar puncture, a procedure which did not get the go ahead from Cik or PakCik ( Cik's husband). Then came the shocking news that she had lost her sight in her right eye. A visit to her yesterday was a heart wrenching one. It seemed that her blood pressure had sky rocketed the day before and so she was sedated to make her rest. Although she smiled and remembered who we are, Cik was definitely not her usual self. She was in and out of sleep. The doctor in charge of her told me that if her condition stabilizes, most probably they will administer chemotherapy via her spine as soon as possible. That is the option left for the doctors to combat the spread of the cancer in her brain. She told me that they do not have time on their side. Cik had deteriorated quite fast, she told me.

This is a note of hope. It is written as a reminder to me and to all of us about how fragile life is and about surrendering to Allah. Cik is a warrior none the less. Even when she lost the sight of her right eye she still sounded cheerful and still called me and asked me to pray for her. She told me that she had put everything in Allah's hands. She is hoping and praying for Allah's grace. Let us all do the same for Cik.