Cancer Scare

I have been pondering for days whether I should share this post in my blog.  I did not feel like sharing something so personal, but I felt that I should let everyone know that there is always hope  and miracles when the situation seems bleak. This is a long post but I think every woman should read it. It could be life-saving.

It all started in early September 2017. My period was delayed for about a week. When it came, the flow was scant. I thought that this was supposed to be the actual period flow now that I have no more uterine fibroid. I thought that from now onwards, my periods would be this light and easy.  What a breeze I thought. But I had a presentiment that something is not right. I know my body too well.

I was right about my guts feeling. That was just the beginning of my 2-month long nightmare and days of  worries.

My period for that month went from scanty  to moderately heavy to heavy, and I passed out so much jelly-like blood clots that I just knew that something wasn’t right.  Then the flow stopped for several days only to come back. When the flow resumed, it was bright red and moderately heavy.  When my period didn’t stop after 3 weeks, I started to get really worried. As usual, I went to Dr Google.  I typed in “prolonged period with blood clots” and the search results paralyzed me with fear. Endometrial cancer was staring at me from my computer screen.  Now, I was putting more stress into my body from all the worrying. Stress is poison to the body and it poisons you slowly but surely.

My hubs prompted me to see Dr Tan, the gynae who did my laproscopic myomectomy surgery on 29 May this year. I got an appointment to see her on 15 October 2017.

When Dr Tan did an ultrasound of my uterus, her words sent chills to my spine and I had cold sweat all over.

Dr Tan: You have a lot of abnormal looking bleeding in your womb.  See here. They look abnormal.

Me: Does it look cancerous?

Dr Tan: It looks pre-cancerous. And you have a cyst here too. All these are caused by hormonal imbalance.

My whole world crumbled. I felt like I was hit by a big truck on the highway and awaiting death painfully on the road.

I was too thunderstruck to even ask Dr Tan what pre-cancerous cells are and where the cyst was. Dr Tan prescribed me with Norethisterone, a synthetic and potent progestogen hormone which stops uterine bleeding.  I was told to take this medication for 15 days.  My ‘period’ or breakthrough bleeding would come 2 or 3 days later.

Two days after seeing Dr Tan, I took the ETS to Ipoh with my girls to visit my parents.  My dear parents gave me a lot of hope and encouragement. I felt so much better.  I am happiest each time I am back at my parents in Ipoh. It feels magical to be back at my childhood home, to be a little girl again in my parents’ eyes. When you are little, there is no stress, no worry of diseases and no worry of the world problems but only worry of not getting enough play time and junk food.   I returned to KL 5 days later, feeling more positive.

No wonder I felt so bloated and had a slight weight gain.  All these are caused by hormonal imbalance, which causes the womb lining to thicken.   If you have this thickening you have a higher risk of developing womb cancer, especially if the extra lining cells are abnormal.

From my research on the internet, I found out that my condition is caused by an excess of estrogen in the body or a condition called estrogen dominance. And I found out that all the so-called superfoods that I have been eating are high in estrogen. Goodness!  Foods like soy bean (though I only eat non-GMO ones), flaxseeds, sesame seeds, chickpeas, etc  are high in estrogen.  And remember I have been gorging on meat, especially red meat a month before my surgery to increase my red blood cells to avert a blood transfusion? Conventional non-organic meats are high in estrogen too.   And the mother of all culprits – lack of sleep and emotional stress. I must cut these out from my life pronto if I want to live long enough to see my daughters graduate from university, get married, be a grandmother and travel the world.

Back in KL, I resolved to cut out  all high estrogen foods. I drastically cut down my intake of cakes and pastries, sugary foods, all types of meat and went cold turkey on soy products and snacks.  Even healthy nuts like almonds, pistachios and peanuts are high in phytoestrogen. I cut down my intake of nuts as well. Even my favorite vegetable – bean sprouts are high in pyhtoestrogen as they are from soy beans.

So what else can I eat? All the healthy foods that I have been eating seem to be high in estrogen.

I may as well starve myself to death. Or maybe just drink water, eat fruits and vegetables for the rest of my life. Will I die of being anemic then?

But mum says “eat everything in moderation”.  I listened to her. But I still avoid eating soy bean products.

I increased my dosage of Izumio and Super Lutein as well as organic spirulina and fish oil. I ate lots of fruits and vegetables that are known to block estrogen: grapes, citrus fruits,  drank fresh pomegranate juice every other day and increased my intake of broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms.

Each night, I would dart straight into my bedroom latest by 9:45 p.m. and close both my eyes to stuff that I used to sweat over though they are unresolved yet.    Sleep deprivation and stress (mental and physical) both fry our hormones.   Hormonal imbalance can lead to hormone sensitive cancers like breast cancer and endometrial cancer.

The next one month up until now, I have been trying very hard to cut out stress from my life.  Money-chasing and screaming at disobedient children do not seem to matter much to me anymore. I am learning to stop and smell the flowers each day; and live each day as if it was my last. I am also learning to let go of my expectations.  So what if my girls don’t go to the top class next year? Heck, I love myself more now. Mum says to let my girls be responsible over their own academic results and don’t split hairs over them.

I also made many resolutions and prayed fervently to God for His healing.

Two days after I stopped Norethisterone, my period came.  I had the worst and most unimaginable period pain in my life. It felt very much like the miscarriage that I had in the year 2001. The pain was so bad that I had chills, felt nauseous and was really sick.  After about 20 hours of stabbing pain in my abdomen, I passed out two wodges of blood clots that resembled raw pork. They were so long that I had to pull them out from my down under.  Then the pain miraculously stopped.  The flow came for 4 days, stopped for 3 days and came back on the 8th day. I was devastated and thought that the abnormal bleeding hasn’t stopped yet.  Thankfully, on the 9th day onwards, things were looking up. I had no more spotting, my abdomen shrunk  and I felt great. I knew that things inside my body were improving. My weight dropped. The new short pants that I had recently bought is now dropping off my waist! I knew that my uterus lining is starting to stop thickening. I felt more positive.

Fast forward to 12 November 2017, the date of my consultation with Dr Tan.  I was a total nervous wreck on the day of my appointment. I was losing my marbles over worrying and had zilch appetite. I struggled to think positive. Like I had said before, I seem to have a  bad relationship with hope and being positive.  When the hubs dropped me at the clinic, my 3 angels wished me good luck and told me “mummy, don’t worry. Everything will be OK. You will have no more pre-cancerous cells”.   Cass has always been telling me that her guts feelings tell her that I will be A-OK.   I was overwhelmed with emotions. My daughters’ words of encouragement and confidence in me gave me confidence.

After a torturous 1.5-hour wait at the clinic, I finally got to see Dr Tan.  My heart was pounding so loudly that I was worried that Dr Tan could hear it.  I was  prepared for the worst but hoping against hope.  Dr Tan did a transvaginal ultrasound scan this time to get a better view of what’s going on inside.

Dr Tan: your womb looks better now. There are no more abnormal cells seen. Remember that day there was a lot of abnormal bleeding? It looks clear now.

Me: no more massive bleeding inside seen?

Dr Tan: they’ve cleared.  But your left fallopian tube looks blocked.  It looks like an infection there.  I will give you some antibiotics to clear the infection.  If you don’t treat it, the bacteria can travel everywhere, to other organs.

The ‘cyst’ that Dr Tan initially saw in my left fallopian tube is actually an infection.

I felt a humongous relief when I heard that the abnormal pre-cancerous cells are no longer there.  Never mind about the tubal infection. I can handle anything as long as it is not pre-cancerous. I was given two types of antibiotics, to be taken for 10 days.  Dr Tan didn’t even ask me to come back to see her for a follow-up check.  If however, my next period is prolonged, I have to come back to see her and she will then place an IUS (Intrauterine System) in my womb to regulate the hormones.

When I asked Dr Tan what was the root cause of my hormonal imbalance, she told me that it is not so much because of estrogen dominance but from the mother of all causes of diseases – STRESS.  She further asked me what I am so stressed about.  I didn’t know what to say to her. I am in nature easily stressed out, am a chronic worrier and am too much of a perfectionist.

Do I want to sweat over the small stuff now? What about working hard to earn the extra bucks? They are all insignificant to me now. What matters to me  now is my health, my sanity, sufficient sleep and hopefully a life that’s not too stressful. My kids give me stress. My hubs too. Situations and people stress me out. But is it worth stressing over them and poison my body with stress, which in turn leads to hormonal imbalance which can lead to some serious diseases like cancer?

This experience is the most life-changing one for me. I had gone through a lot in life but this experience is akin to being told that I will be given a death sentence and much later, given a royal pardon / parole.  I am so grateful and thankful to God for hearing my prayers and granting me my wish and giving me a second chance in life. God is truly great!