Monday, December 31, 2007

My sister's gone

Y was the second of the 12 of us, a mother of 6 aged between 15 to 5, a doting wife, a daughter, an auntie to many nieces and nephews and also a teacher. She was 44.

Before I move on, let me share a conversation that one of the kids, a 10-year-old had with his father, just after the funeral.

Father: You know that now mama is gone, we won't be able to see her again (he was just testing)
Kid: Yes, I will heaven (all of us smiled)
Father: But in heaven, all of us would be the same...there will be no mother, son, daughter (not sure of the truth of this, I just relate what I heard)
Kid: I would remind her that I'm his son.
Father: What if you too are reborn as 18-year-olds, mama must be pretty as an 18-year-old, and you must be really handsome, what if she tries to tackle you
Son: I would remind her again, and again that I'm her son....

All of us laughed at that, and we knew that though the last two weeks before her death was very emotional and tiring, we just accepted the fate that she's gone to meet the Creator, just like all of us one day.

She had Colon Cancer. The first diagnose was only about two weeks before her death. First we were told that there was a tumor in the right colon, we visited her in Kuantan (where she and the family lived) right after the diagnose. What I heard from my bro-in-law was not really clear. He said the surgery to remove it was scheduled on the 18th of Dec. When asked about the results of scans that were done earlier, if it was cancerious, he said no but he mentioned about a chemo that was supposed to follow after the surgery.

I tried to talk to any of the specialists at the HTAA through calls from KL but to no avail. My sister was getting weak as the symptons getting worse, she was getting less food and liquid. I tried to get BIL to agree to shift to other hospital, for second opinion as I think to wait for the 18th is just too long, her condition was deterioriting and she might not be fit for the surgery at the end. And also we try to look for anywhere that has a cancer unit, to prepare for treatments that might take time after the surgery. But he just kept quiet.

Up to this stage we had not been informed that what she had was malignant as all was explained to my BIL (who for some reasons remained silent), until the MO in the ward asked her (with the presence of my eldest sister) if she could accept that she had the disease. We figured out that that was serious and finally we just accepted that it was cancer.

The word cancer was like a death sentence for the rest of the family but I remained positive. I tried to talk to specialist to one private hospital in Kuantan but I was passed to talk to a doctor from HTAA who was doing part-time there. I was frustrated but listened to him anyway. He mentioned that in this case, staging was normally done after the surgery.

BIL finally agreed to move my sister to other hospital but insisted that by that time it was too late for the surgery to be done elsewhere.

It was really emotionally draining to me to think about battling cancer, having to go through what I had for the past 5 years but for the family I remained positive. Over and over I explained to them that people could get cured, and lived many years with cancer. And i prepared for any outcome.

Y was getting weaker, surgery day came without the surgery as she no longer was fit for it. She was devastated and asked to be moved to Kelantan right away.

And finally the family managed to speak to the speacialist (who only talked to my BIL before). From him, we knew that she was at the advanced stage and he had given her a year to live.
I was in my room in the office, and I heard all that from my eldest sister who talked between sobs. She said she could not looked at Y as she was still talking about hope, to get second opinion somewhere and talked about holistic treatment.

Later, it just happened that the specialist was in the ward and one sister passed the phone to him. I asked him how he'd decided on the stage as from my understanding it would be done after the surgery. He said Y's case was already at the advanced stage where the cancer had spread to the liver, and they could see it in the CAT scan (that was done two weeks before that). I knew right away that only BIL was made to be aware of this, and chose not to tell us. The doc said he never thought that my sister's condition deteriorated that fast. I was not satisfied with a lot of things, especially on the late date of the surgery, on my worry of her condition might prevent her from getting the surgery done, my BIL attitude and Y's attitude on taking the light symptons that she had since Ramadhan as nothing etc. But I just could not say more as the doc explained, the surgery was just to remove the tumor and her condition might get worse due to it, she might be supported by the machine after that and not recover. He mentioned the the word "retgressive surgery". In other words, she has no hope and again mentioned about the one year to live. The last time a doc said something similar: 24 hours for my BIL, he died barely 10 minutes later.

I was drifting somewhere else but I still coud hear he said I better come back to see her.

Y was moved to HKB instead of HUSM, as we were told the specialist there was on leave. I drove with the kids with a niece and my brother to first Kemaman to fetch hubby who worked there, and later to Kelantan. It was drizzling, everyone else asleep when I got a call from my eldest sister. She said the doc in HKB was more transparent, she showed her the scan image and explained, even with only a small white dot on the liver, they already called it Stage 4, Y had 'clouds' all over it. She said "Your sister is dying". For the first time, I cried and despite me being positive all the while, I knew that we were losing her.

Eid was a sombre day, upon seeing me Y asked me to massage her hand, later her feet. I talked to other doc in other hospital in KL, just to put a closure to it just before I could accept the fact that nothing could be done except for prayers, or if anything that we should do might change things even a little bit. One oncologist said there must be earlier symptons and my sister might just ignored it, even if we forced her upon knowing the symptons during Ramadhan, it was already too late for her. And even if she survided the surgery, chemo would made her suffer more. He assured me that if she went to the doc. a year earlier, there was some hope left.

The next day, at about 8 pm she said she was going to sleep and she wanted it to be quiet. I let my kids saw her, and I told her that we were leaving (with the other guests). I looked at her face, I squeezed her hand I just knew it would be the last time. For the first time in my life, I saw a look on my father's face that I never saw before. He looked lost and tired.

We went home, according to mom Y said she wanted to sleep over and over. Mom said just go ahead, nobody there accept for her and one uncle and it was just quiet. She complained of some pain, the nurse called a doc and she was given some medication, I believe that was some drug to paralyse her, as she said she could not feel her feet after that. Y called out for my father, and when it was almost near, some of other family members gathered around her. My father said the "Syahadah" over and over at her ears. She's gone holding his hand. He had the experiences of being by the sides of dying people, saying the "kalimatullah" many times, I could only imagine his feeling doing it to his own daughter.

The next day, I helped in bathing her. I cleaned her toes and feet with images of my vibrant sister when she was alive in my mind. I remember during Hari Raya, she complained about bloated tummy, winds, nausea (all of these are the symptons), we joked that she might be pregnant. I will continue to pray for her and the wonderful kids she left. The number of visitors who came to pay their last respect exceeded the number of guests during her wedding.

We were not satisfied with how she had faced all the symptons, brushing them as nothing serious. We know she was a busy mom, putting others interest ahead of hers. We had grouses over BIL but now we stopped asking the why's and the if's, we have accepted everything.

For the kids, they have huge families from both sides and they are welcome anywhere. We discussed that we try not to separate them, and the best for them is the live near the father.
And to me the memory of my sister lives on, she is now with our little brother who were only with us for 2 short days.


Blogger Yatie said...

sorry for your lost and I can feel the lost too. The kids, I hope they won't separate each other.FYI, last feb I lost uncle due to cancer and it was only a week he knows before his death. Till now I can feel the sadness as he just like my father.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous fuzzy said...

sorry for your loss. cancer has struck many close to my heart ( aunt and dad in 2006). be strong dear.

9:25 PM  
Blogger ninuk said...

ros, it was yr younger brother right who were in UH for the cancer treatment - and now yr sister ...

my prayers with your family esp yr nephews and nieces.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous sofhib said...


9:56 AM  
Blogger Mama22Beas said...

Yatie and Fuzzy...thx, never really thought that cancer is becoming more common now till it struck my own family.

Ninuk...that was my BIL, hubby's side. The one I mentioned is our little brother who passed away two days after birth.

Thx sofhib. I feel better now that knowing all in the family have accepted it.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Shamira said...

Al fatihah.

So sorry for your loss. Cancer is just so scary and rampant now a days. (my mom had it).

My prayers are with you.

12:42 PM  
Blogger PrettyMommie said...


1:37 PM  
Anonymous mrs b said...

so sorry to hear about this, our condolences. Am not sure of the wisdom for doctors to estimate patient's remaining life but best to accept the fate as you say. You take care dear....

5:49 PM  
Blogger Mama22Beas said...

Thanks me it is still like a dream, it feels like she is around. My mom cried last night, asking me how not to get the images of her as she is seeing her everywhere...but we're moving on and accepting Allah's will. Thanks again!

6:59 PM  
Blogger allthingspurple said...

Ros, my condolence to your recent bereavement. I too have lost a loved one, my dad, on the eve of Chinese New Year. I know exactly what you must have gone through. Be brave and take care

8:19 AM  
Anonymous a&a'smom said...

My deepest condolonce to you & ur fly. May God give you strength to overcome this difficult moment. I really feel so sad as I can just imagine how it must feel if this happen to my sis. Hugs & pls take care.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Queen Of The House said...

Ros, I am so sorry for your loss. The dreaded C again :( Alfatihah for you sister.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous KittyCat said...

I am so sorry to hear about your sister. May God bless her soul and watch over her kids. Your family is really wonderful to care for them!

I can't imagine what you went through. An ex-colleague died very quickly of colon cancer (similar stage) and left behind a 15 month old son.

My aunt died of bone cancer and left behind a 3 year old, who didn't understand what happened.

Life is unbelievably short!

7:09 AM  
Anonymous absweeties said...

Our condolences to your family and her kids.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Mama22Beas said...

allthingspurple...thx, it really hard to loose the one close to us.

Thanks a@a'smom

QOTH...yes, and the first time in my family too.

kittycat...yes, it is just so rampant now, sorry to hear about your loss too.

Thanks absweeties

2:08 AM  
Blogger WMD: Wife, Mother, Daughter said...

So sorry to hear about your sister.

2:25 PM  

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