Denise Tam

Moments in Life


Release & Relief

Posted by Denise on December 9, 2012 at 9:05 AM

"There's a 40 percent chance of preventing a relapse"

"You're young, so you have a 10 percent chance of death during the transplant, it's usually between 10-15 percent"

"The chances of your sister's cells attacking yours (also known as graft versus host disease) is about 30-50 percent, even with you and your sister being a perfect match"

"Around 20 percent of patients will go through more than one transplant (due to transplant failure"


These statistics recited by Dr Li, a transplant doctor at QM ran through my head. We had a scheduled family conference with him on Wednesday. Other than going out to celebrate my mum's 60th birthday just the day before, it was my first time being out of the house since I was discharged exactly one week earlier.


The day was long. From 12:30 when I arrived at the hospital to 6:30 when I left, I hardly had any moments of peace. Running from one floor to another, worried about my Hickman which was blocked, chasing after nurses to give me the time of day, and just listening to doctors predict your fate meant physical, emotional and mental drainage.


That night as I lay in bed in the quietness of the night, a sudden rush of despair enveloped me. They did a good job at scaring me. Other than a few statistics it wasn't really anything I haven't heard before but it was as if I heard it for the first time.


I lay there for a while in self pity, alone, but with so many thoughts and questions all collecting in my head with no where to go.


How I wished there was someone that I could talk to. Someone that understood everything. Not just a cancer patient, or a lymphoma patient, but a Christian woman who is young, single, and living with a relapse of follicular lymphoma in Hong Kong.

I needed to know somebody just like me had gone before me, that they figured it out and things were going to be okay.

I'm more than just a cancer survivor.

I'm also a woman that has embraced each scar on her body from surgeries and tests and has claimed proud ownership to a shaved head but struggles with the thought of the chemotherapy possibly causing infertility later in life.

I'm a Christian who is thankful to have her faith, hope and community not only stand by her but also walk with her but struggles with where to draw the line and when to just let go and let God.

I'm single and fortunate to have the time to be selfish, to have the time to work on personal goals, to fight for myself, but as a single I often wonder when I should date again, whether it would be fair for my partner to carry such baggage with me, whether anyone would love a damaged me.

I have follicular lymphoma. Lucky in some sense to have a cancer that responds so well to chemotherapy, but unlucky in its characteristic of coming and going as it pleases like a bad case of house bugs with the transplant being the closest thing to a complete extermination.

I'm currently living in Hong Kong, a beautiful and great city, with some of the most amazing friends, my dear family, great doctors and not to mention mouth watering food, but I'm starting to feel like I can't keep up.


You fight so long, you fight so hard and (frankly) you fight so well just to be defeated in the next round. Is it really just about the fight? How many more rounds will I have? Will it stay down this time around? Do I do the transplant with all its risks or do I simply stop after the cancer is gone and just trust God? How can I ask Michelle and Ka to put their life on hold for me? Will i be well enough to celebrate Christmas with my next chemo on the 18th? When will I be able to travel again? What is God trying to tell me?


I let these thoughts brew for a while until I released them to God in the form of tears and thanked Him for being the one that truly understands, for collecting my tears in the palm of His hands, for being the one that knows my heart, not because He's a Christian women, single and living with a relapse of follicular lymphoma in Hong Kong, but simply because He created me and died for me. One last teardrop fell onto my pillow, one of gratitude and humbleness, before I fell asleep that night with a smile on my face and peace in my heart.


"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8 (NLT)


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Reply Vicky
8:46 AM on December 10, 2012 
ohhh, i wish i knew someone else who had been in your situation and defeated it. i wish there was something i could do or say to make you instantly well. i wish... but all i can do is pray. and dear - u are loved and covered in prayer.

yahweh shammah
Reply Richard
10:04 AM on December 13, 2012 
Although Jesus understands, it is still at times hard and lonely. Keeping you in prayer ahead of the next chemo.