When cancer came to pay me a visit, my life fell into abyss... but at the end, it was overcome. After all, cancer is not always as bad as we think.
On the night of June the 3rd 2003, at exactly 22:30, I remembered clearly that was the time my soul sank into the deepest abyss when I heard Dr. Kris Chatamra announced that my cell biopsy result was no good. Immediately, I knew that it was cancerous. My mind became very restless, confused and I kept thinking about what I should do next. The immediate thought I had, was my two children especially the youngest that just started secondary. I wondered who would be looking after them if I were no longer here. At that moment, I felt like crying out loud but nothing came out. The crying was completely internalised. It was like the torrential tears filling up inside and tormenting me.
When I came out of the doctor’s room, I found that my beloved husband had fallen sound asleep at the waiting room outside. It was already 11:00 pm, no patients were found anywhere. The still and quiet atmosphere made me felt so sad and lonely. In my mind, I was daunting how to inform my husband of this terrible news especially I know he was a great worrier. All I could utter out to him was that the result revealed that it was cancer. Both of us fell into sudden silent. I know my husband was very stressed out.
During the journey back home, he asked me a few questions. But I was so out of my mind that I could not recall them at all. Thinking back now, I remember that he kept repeating the same question and that was what will happen to him and the children if something happens to me.
That was the saddest night and none of us was able to sleep. I knew that I have to be strong. We cannot all continued to worry because at the end everyone will suffer. I decided to pull myself together with strong will and encouragement, I joked with my husband saying: “What gets old easy but hard to die?” This helped both of us to relieve our stress with laughter. I told him that I was ready to get the treatment. Cancer can come and it can go away too.
On 12th June 2003, I went to Chulalongkorn Hospital to have my mastectomy, operated by Dr. Kris. A month after surgery, I had another dramatic moment as Dr. Kris told me that I needed chemotherapy treatment and altogether there would be six shots.
On my way home alone, I began weeping uncontrollably and continuously for my most fear – chemotherapy was my next treatment. When arrived home, I cried and cried and couldn’t tell anyone about this enormous fear I have. The scary image of fallen hair and bald headed, plus my chronic autoimmune sickness were simply too much for me to bear.
Just as I was so saddened with all these, my close friend who was a steward called me up. Somehow, I came to my senses. I realised that it all depends upon our attitude and outlook. I need to have strong belief and confidence in the treatment regimen proposed by my doctor. So I started to develop positive thinking and started practicing meditation.
Since that day, I was no longer depressed, even though I knew that there could be severe side effects within the first three shots of chemotherapy. The first shot of chemo I had, I was not able to sleep for two nights. I didn’t think much for I thought that was probably the common side effect and eventually things would get better.
So I continued to meditate and often fell asleep while meditating. Somehow, my body managed to adapt to the whole new medication regimen. Amazingly, I never had any insomnia and I managed to complete my chemotherapy without much complications.
I decided that I should just be my normal self when I went for my treatment in the hospital. I wanted to look good and took the effort to dress up beautifully as I usually do, so that none of the nurses can tell that I was sick. I did not look sick for I was my usual self.
After the chemotherapy, I went through 30 times of radiations. I completed my entire treatment on 30th December 2003.
Now I would like to advise all my friends that if cancer comes for a visit, do not panic, always have positive thinking, accept the disease, and be ready for the treatment. Let go of the sorrow, what begins will end. Try to do your best today and simply be happy!
The happiness from being a volunteer at the “Friends Help Friends Group”
In 2004, Dr. Kris Chatamra invited me to become a volunteer in sharing my experience with and be a mentor for breast cancer patients. I accepted immediately for I knew that no one could understand the pains and emotions except the ones who have had cancer, have lived through the ordeal and have finally survived it. Even though I was a strong-will and confident person, I was depressed when I first diagnosed. I wonder what will happen to those who are weaker, how much more suffering and depression they have to go through. I would like very much to share my experience with cancer patients on how one can survive the cancer, win over the crisis and live like a normal person with good quality of life.
In June 2009, I established a group called “Friends Help Friends” with the suggestion and persuasion of Dr. Kris. We set up a room for image enhancement in Chulalongkorn Hospital so that the cancer patients can have confidence in their look and thus their quality of life can be improved. We made synthetic breasts, which designed by Dr Adhisabandh Chulakadabba, breast cancer specialist in Chulalongkorn Hospital. These are all for those patients who have had mastectomy. We also provide wigs and beautiful hair scarves for free. There is a group of cancer survivors who have completed treatments to support current cancer patients. In addition, we have qualified and experienced nurses to advise and educate the patients concerning each treatment procedures and details.
Today, my friends and I in this “Friends Help Friends Group” enjoy in supporting and giving laughter back to the patients. We want to cheer them up and for them to have the endurance in fighting back and living a normal life.
Ms Fha Praneechotiros
Head of “Friends Help Friends Group”
8 September 2014