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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Joy In the Journey

Yesterday, we had our Year End Party - a time to reflect and celebrate another year of hopefully cancer free. However, I knew a few of the members had relapses in the past 1 year.

It is difficult to face with cancer relapses. It is also equally difficult for me to break bad news about relapses. Yet, life goes on. We try not to think of it. When it happens, we face the cancer again and memories of the old treatments for example radiotherapy or chemotherapy flood back. Surgery may also be indicated in selected cases. There are so much uncertainty and so much fear.

I chose a song entitled "There can be miracles" sung by Whitney Houstan and Mariah Carey in the motion picture "Prince of Egypt" to sing in the Karaoke session during the year end NPC support group party yesterday. The lyrics are as follows:

Many nights we prayed, with no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful song, we barely understood
Now we are not afraid, although we know there's much to fear
We were moving mountains long, before we knew we could

There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
Who knows what miracle, you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe.

In this time of fear, when prayer so often proves in vain
Hope seems like the summer birds, too swiftly flown away
Yet now I'm standing here, my heart so full I can't explain
Seeking faith and speaking words, I'd never thought I'd say

There can be miracles, When you believe (When you believe)
Though hope is frail, It's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles, You can acheive (You can acheive)
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

They don't always happen when you ask (uh)
And it's easy to give in to your fear (ooh)
But when you're blinded by your pain
Can't see the way clear through the rain
A small but still resilient voice
Says hope is very near

There can be miracles (Miracles)
When you believe (Oh When you believe)
Though hope is frail
It's hard to kill (Hard to kill)
Who knows what miracles 
You can achieve (You can achieve)
When you believe (oooohhh)
Somehow you will (somehow somehow somehow)
Somehow you will ( I no I no I no)
You will when you believe (when you)
You will when you, you will when you, believe
Just believe, just believe (ooh baby)
You will when you believe. 

I took my guitar on stage, played the chords and sang the song. Half way thorough the song, I found out that the chords were wrong. I joked that it was just for warming up. I started again, having to use another set of chords. It was difficult, at least for me to sing and play the guitar at the same time. I have only sang in public in a few instances, having not have a good voice. However, I felt obliged to sing; a few of the members needed to hear the song and find encouragement. This was also my first playing of my guitar this year, having left it in the store room due to my busy work schedule. 

The "Prince of Egypt" told of the story of Moses. He received a commandment from God to led his people out of Egypt. Somehow, their journey led them to the Red Sea in order to cross over to the Promise Land. But they had no means to cross the sea and their enemies were closing in and all of them could perish. It was a hopeless situation. At the last minute, Moses needed a miracle. A miracle beyond human understanding. His followers could not see the miracle. Yet, Moses did not give up. He prayed and he had faith. And the Red Sea parted. It was amazing. It was a miracle. 

Sometimes, we are faced with the same situation. Cancer is like the Red Sea. Somehow, one of us ended up with the Red Sea in front of us. The enemy of death is at the back of us and closing in. We wanted to cross over to the opposite side desperately but the Sea seemed so big and deep and there are no means to cross over safely. We are stuck. The doctors are stuck. They tell us that the chances are not good. 

The lyrics of the song captured the Moses and his people's emotion well. Fear sets in but yet there is hope. Although hope is frail but yet it is hard to kill. In our hearts a hopeful song that we barely understood. Now we are not afraid, but yet there is much to fear. Seeking faith and speaking words we never thought we will say. There can be miracles when you believe. 

I dedicate this song to the members and their care givers who are faced with a difficult situation at the moment. As a doctor, I try to be realistic about what can be achieved medically. The medical treatment nowadays can achieve so much more than before. Yet, there is still a limit in some cases of what modern medicine can achieve in the more advance and recurrent cancer. But, as a fellow human being, I had seen miracles before that cannot be explained medically. For those who trust in God, it is divine intervention. For those for believe in karma, it is due to previous good work and a repentance of sin and finding favor to prayers. 

Don't give up. There are excellent hospital staffs and skillful doctors who can help. Many of us will go the extra mile. Cancer is a devastating disease. We understand. There are also people like Peter who is a cancer survivor who can provide support emotionally if needed and his committee. Pray. Have faith. Miracles can happen no matter how rare it can be. Cherish life. Love your families. Eat well, exercise well and live well.  This is the motto of NPC One Heart.

Dr. Choo Bok Ai
Consultant Radiation Oncologist
Medical Adviser of NPC support Group

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