Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why 3 girls are looking forward to losing their hair. Life is full of opportunities.

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Three good friends of mine are doing something most girls can't even imagine.

They're shaving their hair for the leukemia foundation. 
They're all budding doctors like me.
And yes, you read right.

These girls are sacrificing a lot. You may think that as a guy, I can't relate. But I do know first hand how hard losing your looks can affect someone, especially their self confidence.
After multiple rounds of chemotherapy, and 2 bone marrow transplants I started hating how I looked, how I felt and the fact I wasn't normal anymore.
But I managed to get past that. I saw another way of looking at things, and have become the happiest person I can because of it.

I no longer have to rely on my looks, my clothes or my achievements to be happy in life.

And I thought, what better way to help, and thank them than to make them become the most confident happy version of themselves. And I hope this message, that I sent to all three of them, helps you too.

You can help them along in their cause by sending them messages of support and helping them reach their goals by clicking their links below. Their stories, and the reasons why they're doing this are all very touching and makes me proud to call them my friends.

Losing your hair is an opportunity.

My message to these girls:

"When I found out I had cancer, I was down in the dumps. After a while of that though, I took a step back, looked at what I was doing and resolved to see everything that had happened and was going to happen in the most positive way possible - to make sure I'd stay as happy, and healthy, going forward with my treatment.

When I got told I had chemotherapy in the next few days, it was hard for me to see anything but pain and angst in my future - not only for fear of physical pain, but in the damage to my emotions and looks too.
But after a while, I again took a step back and decided to look at it another way.
Instead of seeing my chemo as something that'd bring pain, bad looks and possible death, I decided to look at it as what it was.


There's a huge difference between the two. The difference between resigning yourself to death and going in fighting, with a smile on your face.

Well, you guys don't have to face the whole death thing like I did haha.

But you will lose your looks, and, though I was more beautiful than all of you put together and thus had more to lose (obvious exaggeration there), you guys may find it harder to deal with than me.

I turned that self doubt into something that's made me so supremely self confident. And I'm gonna show you how you can do that too.

When I came out of hospital I was losing hair, on medications which made me look fat, changed my skin and deformed me to looking like someone else, I started doubting myself, more than any teenage shyness/social anxiety ever could.

I now see, looking back, that I was stopping myself from doing what I wanted, from being happy. And I was even endangering my health because of that. I stopped going out, stopped exercising, went out of my way to stay inside all because of what people may have been thinking about my looks.
I didn't even do that consciously. I wasn't always depressed about how I looked, I was using my health and bad looks as an excuse to not want to do anything.

But after a while of this, again I took a step back and looked at what I was doing. And I resolved to look at life another, most constructive way. What I resolved to do was simple. I told myself not to worry about what people MAY have been thinking about me and instead worry about how I could make myself, and those I cared about happy.

Today when I walk down the street, even with my skin the way it is, hair all weird, fat deposited in weird places all around my body due to Cushing's disease - Even though I don't look even a tenth of how good I had before all of this all - I can smile and laugh at everyone and everything on the way.

Now for you guys, the shave coming may seem hard and scary. But I know you guys can do what I did.

Instead of dreading the day you cut your hair, look at it as an opportunity.
Not only will you gain first hand experience of what it's like to be a patient, which will help you relate and help more people in your careers as awesome doctors, you will also become the most confident, happy version of yourself in the process.

There's a huge difference between going into it scared and coming out afraid to look in the mirror, and looking at it as something that will make you the strongest, most happy person you can be.

And be sure that by the time you guys do the shave, making thousands in donations along the way, I'll make sure each and every one of you will be sitting on that chair with a smile on your face."

My message to them on FaceBook


I hope this message inspires everyone reading this to look at their challenges in life as an opportunity - because that's how you can be the happiest, most successful version of yourselves. 

For me - I looked at my chemotherapy as what it was, a medicine, rather than a death sentence.
For these girls - I've inspired them to see the World's Greatest Shave as something that will inspire and build their self-confidence, rather than something that'll make them sweat at night.

For others going through a similar experience --> I hope this helps you to be as happy and positive going forward in your journey. If you're a cancer survivor who's also about to lose your hair, or go through pain, really take this message to heart. Because going into it all, looking at it as an opportunity, rather than something you can't lose will not only make it bearable - it'll make you STRONGER!

For everyone else reading this:
--> Next time you have a job interview, look at it as a chance to showcase your prowess and skills, something to gain rather than something you can't blow.
--> Next time you're taking that final shot in a game, look at it as a chance to help your team win, or a chance to show off your hard work rather than a way to fail yet again.
--> Next time you're sitting an exam you aren't confident about, walk in with a smile on your face, looking to pick up every mark possible rather than panicking, fretting and forgetting half the things in the exam room.

If you can take a step back, and see the positive way of looking at things, you'll be the happiest person you can be.

Because everything in life is an opportunity.
And once you see that, only YOU can stop yourself from grabbing them.

These girls doing the shave have all messaged me back, and I've been surprised by their bravery, their determination, and mostly, by the fact that they all are sincerely doing their best to raise money for a better tomorrow for millions suffering with blood cancers everyday.

They're still scared of what's to come, but this message has seriously helped them to see another way of looking at things and hopefully, when it comes time to shave, they'll be happy for what they've done.

But they do need support. Please, do send them a message by clicking the links below. It only takes a second of your time, but it'll help these girls on their quest to help others. 
And if you can spare some change - you can donate to them too on that page.

Aimee and Nadeen

Monday, February 10, 2014

The worst mistake a man can make... Humour in Hospital #5

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I have to get regular bone marrow biopsies every few months as a leukemia patient. 

As the name suggests, it's a VERY painful procedure. But I only found out late last year that I could actually get sedation for it as an outpatient too with the aid of a wonderful drug called methoxyflurane.

Methoxyflurane, also known as the 'green whistle', is easy to dispense, has powerful analgesic effects well below full doses and has little toxicity to boot, making it an ideal substitute for anesthesia in small procedures or emergency situations. 

It also gets you high as f*ck. 

When I first used it, my doctor mimed out the best way for me to hold and inhale it. 
I was dubious at first, I wanted the full blown, heavy duty stuff if I was getting a needle through my hipbone... not some cheaper, less effective crap. 

For some reason, she refused to handle the actual whistle adamantly. I read the box, it said, "Do not inhale if you are, or may be pregnant." That must have been why, I figured, as I began to take deep breaths and the world began to move ever... so.... slowly...

My parents told me that among other things, while I was going under I kept asking repatitively,

"When's the baby due?"
"Is it a boy or a girl?" 
"Have you picked out names?"

Well... I found out recently that she'd never been pregnant. 
It didn't help that I kept insisting that "YOU MUST BE NOW!" next time either...

Maybe that's why that biopsy hurt more than the others...

I guess I've learnt my lesson...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How did you find out you had cancer? QandA #2.

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A good friend asked me this not too long ago. This is his question and my response.

Q: "Man that would have been some scary shit when the doctor said you probably had leukemia... How did it make you feel?"

It WAS scary bro. 

My parents were in denial but my initial reaction was more like- damn... that makes sense. 

A few days before fining out, I was reading up on leukemia for a family member who had it and stayed with us for his bone marrow transplant. It was a huge reason for why I wanted to do medicine and I realised I knew nothing about the condition. 

I had an infection, something in the chest, the week before. It was because my white blood cells, in essence my entire immune system, was non-existent. But at the time, I just thought it was something antibiotics would fix. 

When it didn't go away, my Aunt and Uncle, who were doctors, told me to get a blood test done. 

So I did it. 

I can still remember sitting in my backyard, on a reclining chair, stroking my dog's fur when Dad told me the doctor wanted me to go into emergency. 

Straight away. 

I could feel something was wrong. I'd known something was up for months. My legs would feeling dead only minutes into training sessions, even though I would train 3 hours a day. I'd had 3 or 4 hour-long nosebleeds in the past month or two. I was sleeping thirteen, fourteen, fifteen hours a day.

So I spent as long as I could, sitting in that chair, Bonza curled up beside me.

Then we went into hospital. I was confused, but mostly tired. 
The nurse who triaged me seemed very nice... so kind and caring. She kept comforting me as she cannulated me, putting on some numbing cream as she did so, even though another nurse jokingly told her that I wasn't a kid, that I could take the pain...

I remember hearing that nurse in the background say dolefully, "Really? But he's only seventeen..." as I was wheeled away into my room next door.

I read a book named "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" in primary school, about a Japanese girl who had leukemia in the aftermath of Hiroshima, and somehow I remembered 'bone marrow failure' was something that was mentioned in that. 

When I saw that written on my chart, I asked dad 
"Does that mean luekemia?" 

He looked me dead in the eyes, and said, "No."
His eyes were haunted... I now realise that that question made him think about that uncle who had leukemia, and the shit he went through.

The ER doctor came and broke the news that it was exactly that. Leukemia.

My parents were in denial. At first, I took it stoically. 
But then I got scared and went into denial too. 

I looked at all the other possibilities - some vitamin K deficiency or B12 deficiency... could explain the low blood counts. The nose bleeds - maybe due to air conditioning causing different pressures or something like that. The tiredness? Well... I was going through year 12... wasn't that normal?

The next day I had my biopsy done. 

My denial, my hope that it could be anything else, was shattered with those words.

'The good news is you're 17 and you have leukemia. But the bad news is, you're 17 and you have leukemia.'

I got past that though. I realised I had a second way of looking at things. And I'm still here today. Happier and more satisfied than ever.

It felt good writing that."

And it feels good reliving that conversation with my friend too. 

Cancer made me realise that that idea applies to everything in life. 
You will ALWAYS have a second, more positive, more happy way of looking at ANY problem in life. 
And when you can see that different perspective, and live it, you will be happy in life. And I'll live by that for the rest of my life. 

It's me, my brain, only I that determines how I feel. 
Even in times of pain, even when everything seems to be against you, only you can choose to be happy. And it's only you that makes you feel sad. 

And I really hope I can make anyone reading this see that. 

You can read more about my story by clicking here.
Read about how I beat depression here.  
And click here to see why I think cancer has made me the happiest person I am
It's  made me someone who doesn't worry about what others are thinking about me, something that a lot of people do and don't even realise it.

And if you need any help in getting over some issue, some crisis in life, whether it be medical, emotional or just you not being happy about anything, feel free to contact me, like hundreds of friends family and strangers alike have already done, and I'll try my best. 

Either here, where you can even comment anonymously.
Or on my Facebook page.
Or by emailing me at