Monday, 7 November 2011

The wheezing skinhead

Dr Karmen reckons that Chorio usually attacks the lungs first, and she wasn't satisfied with the quality of my chest x-ray. She wanted another hi-resolution scan to double check. I had undergone so many tests recently that the nurses at the imaging centre were struggling to find a vein in my arms. It was like a scene from 'Trainspotting'.

Lung capacity and volumetric flow tests involved me sitting in a clear perspex box. Inhaled sharply through a pipe until my eyes bulged, and blew out as hard as I could until my ears popped and I turned blue. Everything was measured on an important looking computer. Living in the Himalayas, these tests should have been a breeze. However, I only hit 89% of my predicted abilities (it's a function of height & weight) and this didn't stack up with my other 'fit and healthy' results.

We carried my out-of-breath charts to Dr Karmen's office in a plastic bag. The new lung scans zipped across town by courier motorcycle. My wheeziness was (currently) only a minor cause for concern, but the scans confirmed my fears that the cancer had spread to my lungs with 4 tumors of up to 5mm across. Doh!

The Chorio is still active in my blood, and so there is no doubt about the treatment: a rigorous 9-week course of chemotherapy. 1 weeks on, 2 weeks off. During the 'on' weeks I'll be spending 4 hours a day, 5 days a week pumping a poisonous cocktail called PEB (Platin Etoposide Bleomycin) into my body via a rubber tube hanging out of my chest.

'A number 1 please'
Dr Karmen Wong runs a busy cancer clinic in one of the most respected hospitals in Asia. To give you an idea of the rarity of male Choriocarcinoma, the last case she treated was 10 years ago - and her patient is still alive! Dr Jimmy Beng had only seen my testicular variant 4 times in the last 25 years.

Dr Karmen was realistic about the seriousness of my situation, but also optimistic about my chances of survival. By my calculation she's got a 100% survival rate; she offered me 90% and said with a soft smile 'don't worry, it's curable, you will get better'. I love this lady.


In typical Singapore style the chemo was available immediately, but we decided to wait for a few days.

It was hard to comprehend, but only 5 days had passed since my operation, and the wound was still tender.

Psychologically, I was absolutely exhausted and felt that a bit of rest would enable me to prepare more thoroughly for the chemotherapy. Dr Karmen whole-heartedly agreed.

Waiting nervously for the tap & pipe to be fitted, 8th November 2011
C-day is Tuesday 8th November. I spent the weekend looking for a hat, and made a pre-emptive strike at Chorio by shaving my head.

I keep frightening myself whenever I pass a mirror.
At Matt's request, here are some before-and- after pictures.

My pubes were shaved completely for the berry removal but, sorry, I'm in negotiations with 'Hello!' magazine for the photo exclusive.


  1. For 41 years (OK - perhaps take out the first couple of your life) you've mainly been talking bollocks. At least now you have a valid reason!

    Can you you post some pics on here too? Not of bollocks though, clearly.

  2. Moniek has been taking some photos, and will try to figure out how to upload them soon. They are PG rated.

  3. Is it wrong that I'm slightly irritated the shaven head look suits you?