Jun 20, 2013

Ho Hum !

As my initial shock after hearing the bad news wears off, I am shifting my efforts towards executing my exit plan even if it might turn out to be a long way off.

A while ago, in 2011, I wrote on this blog about the four things I want to complete if I have only four years to live.  They are:  Complete my memoirs, write a letter to my grandchildren, clean up my mess in the house and put together all the key information for my family, and host a big party for all my friends before I check out. Now that four years may be too optimistic, I have to walk my talk immediately.

I have completed the manuscript and am working on revising it based on a book editor's advices; I am also working on eliminating a lot of old files and sorting out tons of other stuff;  and I am thinking about the letter to my grandchildren.  As for the party, that will have to wait for further notice.

My next appointment with the hematologist is still three weeks away so I won't know if there is any change to my diagnosis at least until then.  The only thing I can do now is to watch myself and see if there is any new symptom or worsening of existing symptoms.  In the meantime, I am trying to stay on my regular daily schedule such as exercising, gardening, reading, etc.

Several years ago,  I saw on Youtube a video showing a Chinese surgeon in Taiwan who was diagnozed with cancer.  He refused any chemotherapy (even though he is a physician trained in the western medical tradition) and survive for several years.  I am not sure whether he still is.  But the way he fought the decease was basically three things: Maintain a sunny outlook; eat a vegetarian diet; and practice a traditional Chinese exercise called Ping Shuai Gong, or sometimes called Shuai Shou Gong three times a day.  So I want to follow his example and see if it helps.  I do have an optimistic outlook on most everything.  I am going to gradually move to a vegetarian diet.  As for the Shuai Shou Gong, I have been practicing it on and off, but now I am going  to try to do it every day.  Here are the links to this three-part TV interview.  Unfortunately, it's in Mandarin Chinese:

Jun 14, 2013

What a letdown!

When my hematologist told me I had leukemia last month, I thought I was pretty calm but actually I was agitated to think of the worst outcome that would entail, and I started writing my Exit Diary here.

As promised, the doctor called me the following Tuesday while I was working at the primary election polling place and told me there was no surprise, meaning that my blood test shows that I did not have a fast growing case of leukemia, and that I should see him in a month so he can keep an eye on my situation.

For me, this is a good news/bad news situation.  The good news is I am not going to die (from leukemia anyway) very soon; the bad news is I am not out of the wood yet and I could get some bad news any time.  I am still convicted, but nobody knows of what crime, and the sentencing is postponed indefinitely. I also felt kind of let down.

For any important event that happens in your life, you can always look at it in more than one way, usually a good way and a bad way; it is up to you to choose.  I choose to take this as another, but one that is clearly defined,  "beginning of the end."  (Actually, the real beginning of the end was the moment I was born.)  It is up to me to decide how to take advantage of this signal.

So now I have more time to do what I need to do to clean up my mess so that my wife and children know where things are and what need to be done once I check out.  I no longer have to debate whether it is too early to do these things.  I am making up a list of "tasks" that I need to do, and execute them one by one.  So far, this list includes some 30 items; I am sure I will add more as time goes by.

Among other things, I will make time to research on the disease and search for some unconventional ways to fight it.  Who knows?  I may surprise myself and be able to stick around for quite a few more years.  Stay tuned.

Jun 2, 2013

My Exit Diary

I started this blog in 2008 to discuss five topics that are dear to my heart: tai chi, meditation, religion, retirement and old age. After the initial flurry, I have slowed down quite a bit; in fact I haven't posted anything all of 2012. But now I am going to be doing frequent posting: I have just been diagnosed with some sort of Leukemia but the doctor needs to do more testing to figure out what type it is, so I am convicted but not yet sentenced. It may sound rather melodramatic, but I decided to call this my Exit Diary. I want to chronicle what I will be doing to fight this battle, and to express my thoughts and feelings during this process. I am hoping that I can share these with others who are in the same boat so we may learn something of value from one another. If you have stumbled into my blog and know of someone in this battle, please tell them about my blog.

 In 2011, I found there were a couple of lumps on my neck. During my annual checkup in 2012, I told my doctor about that. He felt them and said that were my saliva glands so I was relieved. In 2013, I found more lumps on my neck and I told the doctor about that during my annual checkup. He found from the blood test that I have a slightly elevated white cell count. He sent me to a hematologist last week. After more blood test, the hematologist told me that I have some sort of leukemia, but he needed more test to ascertain whether the high white blood cell count was caused by an onset of leukemia or by a type of anemia common to Chinese, which I know I had it all my life. I am now waiting for an answer.

 At the age of 78, whether I have a fast growing or slow growing leukemia, or no leukemia at all, I realize I am not gong to hang around for another 20 years. So this diagnosis did give me a good shove to start preparing for my exit. In a way, even though I am a perennial optimist, I have been thinking about my upcoming exit for some time, as evidenced by my previous posts on this blog. My interest in Buddhism over the past few years has helped me understand the reality of life, that death is must as natural as birth, so I am not surprised at all by this turn of event. I will study this disease and learn about ways to fight it as much as I can, just like playing a computer game or solving a jigsaw puzzle and have some fun doing it. If I win, I win; if I lose, I lose. In the meantime, I will have to do a number of things to simplify my life and the work my wife and children will have to do after I checked out.