The Cancer of May 2014

Firstly, I apologise for having been “missing-in-action” lately. I have not been writing, reading nor visiting other blogs and sites. 

The month of May was not easy. It was, in a word, cancerous.

This past month, we saw a few friends lose their loved ones to cancer. A few more have been battling with it. And now, a close family member was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Everything I thought I knew about breast cancer did not prepare me for the reality which unfolded in the month of May. We all thought we were well-informed since everything can be read from the internet. However, it is not until someone close to us who’s been plagued with that certain ailment that we get to see that cancer up close and personal. 

So, I have been in and out of hospitals along with other family members. We all take turns to be with our dearly beloved who had to undergo mastectomy. The psychological toll it takes on the patient itself can never be under-estimated. No one person deals with challenges/adversity in the same way. And every day, it changes from moment to moment. Hence, it does make a world of difference to have the compassionate loving support of families and friends. One would feel less alone and there would be constant “positive” reinforcements in whatever way or form.

We hardly left our dearly beloved alone in all this time. We made sure someone was always around. When it came to crucial moments such as the day of the surgery itself, the visits with doctors – most of us were with our dearly beloved. We were there for her, as much as we were there for ourselves. We all needed to understand as well as be thoroughly informed, because that would enable us to comfort and support her more effectively.

Our dearly beloved is finally home, and recuperating well. It would take time to “settle” into her new “condition” and she would have to think about her next stage of treatment. No matter what, she knows that she will not be alone. Ever. She has been, and is heroic at every stage of her life. This would be her most fearless heroic accomplishment to date. 

I would say that our dearly beloved is most fortunate. She found out sooner than later. Therefore, there is merit in making sure that we have our regular check-ups and mammograms. We cannot afford to take such things for granted. Cancer cells does not discriminate, and are most unpredictable. Even those who carry DCIS cells in them may not discover them through normal screening methods or by touch/feel alone. At this pre-cancer stage, the DCIS cells are very tiny and they may take years to become IDC (cancerous cells). Some DCIS may never take on the form of IDC. It varies from person to person. Hence, it is better to have regular check-ups than none. Don’t wait until it is too late because we’ll regret it most of all.

The youngest Cancer patient our doctor treated is 17 years of age. Two things I noticed during all our visits to the Breast Clinic and Hospital – there are more younger women-patients.

I would like to caution those who are or have been taking “contraceptive pills” and HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) over long periods of time – PLEASE HAVE REGULAR CHECK-UPS AND MAMMOGRAMS. Especially if any of your family members have had cancer.

Life Exchanged


Each of us define happiness and peace differently. We all live diverse lifestyles. However, what is certain is that all of us do not wish for more pain or suffering. We all wish to live out our lives with the people we love, doing the things we love and having the good health to enjoy every moment of it.

As challenging as this whole situation has been for us all, it has led me to contemplate on the quality of time and life. More so, what does it mean for me?

Many of us would always seek to “negotiate” for more time on earth so that we can live a “quality life”. But if we have no idea what makes a “quality life”, then just having more time may not fulfill us much.

Until we understand what gives our lives meaning and purpose, then can we craft our own definition of a “quality life”. Only then would we know what we really want, and how to spend our time on earth within that context. 

I am not here to tell you that I know any better. 

I, myself, am trying to fine-tune the purpose and meaning of my life through the daily challenges I face. Every day is a new discovery because there is always a lesson to be learnt. Some days I feel very blessed to have gained a deeper insight. Other days I feel incredibly humbled (and sad) because someone else’s suffering taught me more about life and its majestic beauty than my own. 

I have much to be grateful for. Every day I tell myself that. 

I sincerely hope that I do not wait until my “expiration date” is shown to me in order to start living my life. In truth, we all can “expire” at any time and place. Whether we like it or not, whether we realise it or not – time is constantly ticking away. Some people can make a life with less money and with even less time. Others may have all the time in the world and money, but still don’t have a clue. There will never be a perfect time. We either make it or lose it. All I know is this – never postpone something important to tomorrow when we can get it done today – especially, forgiveness and happiness.

Sometimes I think that the real cancer in our society is not the disease, but fear and apathy. 

I know of many women who rather not go for mammograms because it is too painful and they are afraid of the pain. There are also women who would rather not know. Then, there are those who just don’t care and don’t bother. They use words like YOLO  (You Only Live Once) without fully comprehending the depth of its meaning. YOLO means appreciating life and not taking it for granted because we understand its value. This is not the same as “don’t care” or “don’t bother”. Don’t care and don’t bother are strains that scream more towards irresponsibility.

The saddest thing at this day and age is that there are many more people who just can’t afford medical care or treatment. They can’t even afford the check-up. This is the real tragedy.

We can call ourselves an advanced “first world” nation but we only make junk food cheap for all, yet charge the heftiest price for medical aid. Crazy, isn’t it?

While we may not be able to change the state of the world and its politics instantly, we can start changing the way we care for ourselves and the people we love. 

Perhaps the finest moments of humanity lie somewhere between the darkness of our worst tragedy and the horizon of our healing…that despite our frailty, our human spirit can still triumph with grace. 

May our unifying religion be love, and our shared mission be peace for all.

May it be all-inclusive, and be free of prejudice.

If we have the power to make someone happy today, please do it. 

Always spread the love while we still can. Others may not be around when we are ready.

Always choose to appreciate the beauty of life, and learn to recognise it. Especially, in people.  

Always choose to remain beautiful on the inside regardless of how “ugly or painful” it gets on the outside. Don’t ever invite the hatred, anger and negativity into us.

Start your own brand of fearless living and love the life you live. 

Above all, love and value yourself.

May you always be blessed with love, joy and beauty.

Peace with folded hands 🙂



Being Afraid Is Human, But Staying Afraid Is A Choice.

  • REDdog
    June 1, 2014

    Shirley, poor bunny, it’s hard to be looking on isn’t it? My Queen had her mastectomy in Nov last year and her recovery has been due to the immense support and love she has received all the way. Peace be upon you and upon yours, darlin’. REDdog

    • shirleymaya
      June 2, 2014

      Thank you, REDdog. Wishing you and your Queen much blessings, joy, love and peace 🙂

  • Paul
    June 1, 2014

    Beautiful, Shirley. My heart and thoughts go out to you, your family and friends who are struggling with cancer. My love be your guide.

    • shirleymaya
      June 2, 2014

      Thank you, Paul. Much appreciated 🙂

  • scottishmomus
    June 1, 2014

    Cancer is so difficult to read about or talk about and yet so much more difficult to live through when it affects those we love. God bless you and yours, Shirley for being able to do all of the above and still provide loving support. Strength is drawn from the most unfortunate circumstances. Praying for that ‘healing horizon’. Hugs and love, Shirley, to take care of you too.x

    • shirleymaya
      June 2, 2014

      Dearest SS/AM,
      Thank you for your very warm and kind words. Means a great deal. Love and hugs x

  • scottishmomus
    June 27, 2014

    Hope you’re doing better, Shirley.x

    • shirleymaya
      July 4, 2014

      So sorry for the late reply, SS.
      It has been a very challenging time, filled with complications and much stress for our dear beloved who is undergoing this cancerous stage.
      Here’s hoping, praying and pleading that things will be better soon.
      Thank you for thinking of me.
      Deeply appreciated and missing you.
      Will write you soon.

      Hugs and love.

  • beeseeker
    August 3, 2014

    I kind of understand (does anybody? Really?) some of what you may be going through: my wife having had breast cancer. She is now over that (if you ever are … really) and marvellously fit.
    So … I wish you and those involved with you all the very best.
    (but this piece is such a powerfully written piece too: my “writer’s compliments on that.

    • shirleymaya
      August 4, 2014

      Thank you for your kind words and for sharing. Means a great deal coming from you. Most of all, I am really glad to hear that your wife is much better now. It’s always heart warming to hear of survivors. And you are right, no one really gets over this terrible disease. However, they do become so much more than the people they were. My utmost respect to those going through cancer, and the survivors.