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The Elephant in the Room

Early this morning, I had a little blessing from Allah and it was a pleasant surprise for me.

As usual, this morning I woke up to the call of azan for Subuh prayers from a nearby mosque. Upon waking up, I went to the bathroom to relieve myself, shower and perform ablution for solat. I was surprised that I got my period.

Yes! I am menstruating!

To most people out there, this may not mean anything at all. I mean, what is the big deal about getting your period, unless it was your first time. Right!

But, to a cancer survivor like me, it is a really BIG news.

As Pua Chu Kang always said in that sitcom, don’t play, play, ah!

I underwent, completed and survived 16 cycles of two types of chemotherapy, 15 fractions of radiotherapy and 18 cycles of HER2 Targeted Therapy which is a type of targeted chemo. 49 rounds of ONE Championship. Because it did feel like I had just fought a battle after every cycle of my chemotherapy session.

Why is getting my period such a BIG deal?

That’s because since I started chemotherapy in April 2020, I have completely stopped menstruating for one year and a half.

I was in a state of menopause with all the usual symptoms. Induced by chemical and drugs used in chemotherapy.

I was prepared for menopause at an early age because I’m 51 already. I thought by the time I am completely healed I would naturally be menopausal anyway.

Absence of menstruation is one side effect of chemotherapy. Not that many cancer patients and survivors talk about it.

Most people out there know mostly about hair loss, nausea, vomitting, diarrhoea, extreme fatigue, emotional meltdowns and loss of appetite.

So, today I’m addressing the elephant in the room.

During chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, our body will stop menstruating because the chemicals and drugs practically destroyed our eggs. There goes our fertility.

Well, so I thought.

Miraculously, some of my eggs survived the holocaust. They’re now awake after I completed all my cancer treatments over two months ago.

It’s no wonder, these couple of days, I was having cravings for red meat, chocolates and ice cream! I usually did have such cravings before menstruation.

I haven’t been eating red meat for a long while. It is associated with recurrence of cancer by so many quarters. Apparently, that is not so accurate.

According to Breast Cancer Welfare Association (BCWA) on a recent talk show, Helo Doktor on TV3 where I was featured as a cancer survivor sharing my recovery journey, it is safe for cancer survivors to eat red meat. In moderation, that is. So don’t eat the whole cow! Best is organic meat, of course.

We will need protein for energy to heal faster. Protein helps our body to repair damaged cells and muscles. It also helps us to regenerate faster. So it’s anti aging too.

Menstruating again also means that my body is healing and will be able to go back to normal again. In shaa Allah. 🙏

It also means I’m still fertile, and able to have babies so to speak.

Of course, I’m not planning to get pregnant and have a baby lah. Get real, I’m going to be 51 next month!

I need to use my energy for my own healing and recovery, and not waking up every two hours to feed a baby and change diapers.

Then spend the next 5 years running around after a toddler making a big mess around the house. Then the next 12-15 years running around like a headless chicken sending my kid to school and fetching him or her. Dealing with teenager issues. Too much stress!

I am just super happy that I am healing. Alhamdulillah!