ADELAIDE CHONG also did not turn us down when we approached her to answer this questionnaire. Before her bout with cancer, she had also lived life in the hospitality service, as a nurse. Now, though retired, she still continues to reach-out to those that need help. However, she admits that she now does so at a slower pace. What do you expect from a grandmother? All grandmothers need to enjoy life and be cuddled too.
1. When did you discover you had cancer?
In November 1995, I discovered a small lump in my left breast. The biopsy was done in December and the results were sent to me and the surgeon.
2. What was your immediate reaction?
I was calm, feeling unsure, wondering if it was correct and hoping that it was all a mistake.
3. Who was the first person you told?
My husband, like me, was also doubtful. We were hopeful for a negative result.
4. What was that person’s reaction or advice?
He was good at hiding his feelings. He felt that a second opinion was advisable.
5. What was your next course of action?
I had thought of a second opinion but I had full trust in my surgeon. I went to him at once to discuss options.
6. What sort of treatment did you opt for?
We agreed on a simple mastectomy. During that period, there was no knowledge of other options like reconstruction, etc. No chemotherapy was needed.
7. Your reaction to the treatment?
After seeing the oncologist and listening to the types of treatment I was to receive, I began to face reality. I did shed a few tears.
8. Describe the help you received when undergoing treatment.
Physically and treatment-wise, I was looked after well but emotionally, I was afraid of the unknown future. In spite of the support of doctors, friends and family, I felt alone and so found support in my religious faith. I found great support here.
9. How did you feel when the whole course of treatment was over?
After two years of rest and proper nourishment, I felt renewed physically and emotionally. I kept busy by joining a support group to encourage others to cope with life after cancer.
10. Any follow-up through the years?
Yes, every three to six months, a check-up by the Oncologist who carried out repeated blood tests and X-rays were also done.
11. How have you lived life ever since?
I started living a different life style. I did things I had never done before. I beca me involved in outreach programmes, travelled and attended conferences on health and spiritual topics all over the world. I made sure that my life was less stressful and I never thought about tomorrow.
12. Word of advice for cancer patients.
Do not panic but just keep a check on your physical self. Most important, live life to the fullest everyday. Just be yourself – maintain a sense of humour. Reach out to others and remember that they are going through what you had gone through before. In this age of modern technology, you have many choices when it comes to treatment.