May 2009. Mari felt the lump on her abdomen getting bigger. “I had noticed the lump earlier. There was no pain. I was losing weight and my appetite was poor. I had postponed seeing a doctor several times but somehow I felt it was now time to see one’, she recalled.
Mari went to Penang General Hospital but was told to wait for two weeks for the CT scan appointment. She then decided to go to a private hospital for investigations. Even before the biopsy result was out she had feared for the worst. “ I have friends who have cancer,” explained Mari. “The biopsy confirmed what I had feared. I had ovarian cancer,” she added.
Mari had a total hysterectomy in June 2009 and was referred to MMCH for further treatment. “I was depressed after the surgery. I didn’t want chemotherapy. When I thought of what I had to go through – the hair loss, nausea , tiredness and not to mention how much the treatment was going to cost me, I wanted to give up. My family and friends were supportive. They said that in the past I had always encouraged others not to quit so now I should not give up.”
In July, 2009 Mari had her first chemotherapy. “I was scared at first but after the intravenous cannulation, everything went smoothly.”
Mari started losing her hair after the second dose of chemotherapy. She used a scarf to cover her head. “Curious neighbours asked me about it. I told them I have cancer. I have nothing to hide. It’s not something to be ashamed of,” she shared.
Mari underwent 15 doses of chemotherapy once every 2 weeks over a period of 8 months . The chemotherapy was postponed when the blood count was low. She was asked to rest at home and to come back for the chemotherapy on another day. Filgrastim and intekom injection was given at times to increase the white blood cell and red blood cell count respectively.
During the course of the treatment, she stayed at home most of the time. “My oncologist advised me not to go to crowded congested places because when the white blood cell count is low, the body immune system is weak. I tried to carry on with the normal daily activities to take my mind off the illness. I cooked simple meal for myself . Everything tasted sweet. I lost the sense of taste in my tongue,” said Mari.
Mari had her last chemotherapy in April, 2010. The CT scan in August the same year showed that she is cleared of cancer. She has remained cancer-free since then. She has got back her hair and her sense of taste is now normal.