June 22, 2012

Decision time

Took an urgent half day yesterday so that Ma could attend Mr Saha’s funeral. They cremated the body and will bring back the ashes to Nepal for a memorial.

Headed to the hospital over lunch time, managed to catch Aunty Leena and family who drove in from KL for a quick turnaround visit. They brought their family friend Father William Heng who is based at Novena and he prayed over Aunty Sarda for a successful operation.

Chatted with Nat and Cristabel, it’s been ages since I’ve seen them, probably Jean’s wedding which was more than 5 years ago I think. Aunty Leena brought along some homemade passionfruit curd for Aunty Sarda, it smelled lovely and she had some today with wholemeal bread.


Had lunch with Jane and Rena at Raffles Place Coffee Club earlier today. There’s a 1-for-1 promo on selected main courses and we shared a chicken lasagne, black pepper duck pasta and added a slipper lobster linguine.


Rena passed me 3 pairs of slippers she helped purchase in KL earlier this week. Such nice friends I have! They are identical except for the colour. Swana also bought me black heels from their Putrajaya trip.


We had a family conference at the hospital after work, with Aunty Susie, Aunty Amy, Kaelash, Swana and me present. We managed to discuss with one of the doctors to understand more about the proposed surgery, risks and recovery.

We asked him basically what to expect if she did the surgery, what if she didn't, whether there were alternatives, what the procedure involved.

Based on what they have seen so far, it seems she's a ticking time bomb, it's a matter of when. They are treating it as malignant, only after removal and testing will they really know for sure if it is but I think we can assume it is.

To them it looks like an aggressive tumour, not likely to be related to her breast cancer as that happened 16 years ago and she's been clear since and her scans didn't turn up any other tumours, except for a 1cm sized nodule in her left breast (that's a separate matter to be dealt with after.)

If it turns out to have originated from her breast, then the prognosis would be a lot better, but in their opinion, it's something that developed there on its own and based on how sudden and acute the symptoms were, it's probably only been there a few months. For it to be this size in a matter of months then goes to show how aggressive it is.

Not doing the surgery and leaving everything as is would mean she could have anywhere between 6mths to 1 year best case. She would still experience a deterioration in her mobility, speech, cognitive ability, memory, threat of stroke, fits, coma towards the end.

Going ahead with the surgery will hopefully prolong her life by up to 2 years but eventually she will still deteriorate. A lot is dependent on how much of the tumour can be removed and how she responds to the chemo/radiation post-surgery, there may be microscopic tumours undetected.

They say that however she behaves now is as good as it gets and she has a 85-90% of remaining like this after the surgery but surgery will not reverse any damage already done and revert her to her old self.

I asked about Gamma Knife radiotherapy to reduce the tumour before surgery but they said it's not suitable in her scenario and they don't think the tumour will be receptive to it. The other option is also to just treat with chemo and radiation only but again, based on the aggressive nature of the tumour, it won't be enough.

So the plan is for her to proceed with the operation on Monday morning at about 9am, we discussed it with her after the doctor left and she wavered a bit because naturally she's scared but she made up her mind to go ahead.

They will shave a little bit of her hair to make the incision on the scalp, a small portion of the skull will be sawed off and they will cut through the brain to get to the tumour. After which they will fix back the skull and secure with metal bits.

Assuming all goes well, she will spend about a day in ICU, then be warded for a week before discharge.

All we can do now is just hope for a successful surgery and that everything goes smoothly and according to plan. The risk of something going wrong on the operating table is about 5% so she's got a good chance that things will go right. Keeping fingers crossed.

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