Message from GIVE.asia
Thanks everyone for supporting this fundraising campaign. All our prayers are with you and your family Chek Ming!
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Message from Tam Chek Ming in person:
[For more recent updates, kindly click on the "Updates" tab/link near the top of this page].
* Update 13/6/2017:
Dear donors and well-wishers, please be rest assured that I am Tam Chek Ming in person. The reason that you see me as being a "family member" is because there is no option in the pull-down menu to state that I am actually "myself". Thank you all for finding it in your loving hearts to extend your kind and compassionate support to my crowdfunding appeal on this page, which started on 17th April 2017 and ended on 27th April 2017.
I am humbly grateful to all you kind donors and well-wishers who have helped me with your very sincere donations and heartfelt encouragement.
Your noble gestures has enabled me to finally gain urgent access to critical immunotherapy treatments before it was too late.
The treatments were finally approved to start in May 2017, and each intravenous dose is administered once every 3 weeks (i.e. 21 days).
I am very relieved and grateful to report that after the first dose itself, the CA125 cancer marker showed a decrease. Furthermore, the terrible chest pains and breathlessness have gradually lessened. To me, these are miracles indeed. Although the chest pains still linger and throb, at least now there is a marked improvement in my condition, i.e. I am now able to walk out my door, bathe my son without gasping for breath and bring him on nature walks, whereas previously I was facing death and I was frequently in bad pain. With all your help, I have also found the strength to visit, comfort and encourage both of my ailing and aged maternal uncles in KL, one of whom is going blind from glaucoma (he has rejected surgery because he was told that glaucoma can recur after surgery) and the other is very afraid to undergo chemotherapy after colon cancer surgery (stage 3).
I am cautiously optimistic and I am utterly grateful to experience this miraculous improvement with the immunotherapy, especially after receiving bad news after bad news in the past 2 years of abject treatment failures, that nearly caused me to lose my life towards the end.
I am utterly grateful to all donors for comprehending the hardships that I am going through, trying to struggle with getting the immunotherapy treatment (it is not covered by Medifund or any other funding or subsidy) and also my continuing struggles of having to fight off the many challenges of struggling to survive in Singapore without an income (fyi, social welfare subsistence aid appeal and Medifund has been cancelled by the respective agency/organisations due to this desperate lifesaving fundraising effort), whilst fending for my aged mom and my little son on my own, plus having to fear for both of their futures if I die because they will lose our home then.
P/s. The immunotherapy is a long-term treatment. I have no other viable choice because the past 2 years of chemotherapy has failed miserably and I came close to death in the end. I am just trying to fight off this death sentence of ovarian clear cell cancer, hoping for a miracle, in order to live on, in order to bring up my young child well and to care for my old mom. I am just stating my woes the way it is; and I certainly have no intention of offending any agency/organisation/hospital.
I thank you all kind souls for your kind understanding and compassion. You are all blessed angels indeed for giving me this precious gift of life.
Chek Ming ([email protected])
My name is Chek Ming. I am 46 years old. I want to tell you my story and ask for your help. My life has been a struggle for the past few years but I am consoled as I have a 5-year old son. He is my greatest pride and joy, and he's also the reason that I’m asking for help.
I am a Stage 4 cancer patient (metastatic ovarian clear cell carcinoma) who is trying to raise funds to get access to immunotherapy, which is not a subsidised cancer treatment and it is out of reach for subsidised patients like me.
I am also fast running out of time, having endured 2 years of debilitating chemotherapy, using various cancer drugs, to no avail, having now reached fourth-line treatment stage using the last available drug.
These conventional cancer drugs have failed to stop the rapid spread of the disease from Stage 1c to Stage 4. I am now suffering from incremental tumor growths, increasing CA125 cancer marker readings and severe stabbing pains in my right chest and arm due to inflamed axillary lymph nodes surrounding the front of my heart and embedded in my chest.
It all happened when I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer called “Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma”, that occurs in only 5% of ovarian cancer sufferers. As such, hardly any research has been done on this type of cancer.
Being a "silent killer", the cancer had gone undetected until I was attacked by sudden acute lower abdominal pains that lasted a week in March 2015. When the pains subsided somewhat to a queasy sensation, I was finally able to make my way gingerly to the neighbourhood Polyclinic.
On that first Polyclinic visit, a doctor mis-diagnosed my ailment as "diarrhea" despite my doubts and objections since one certainly knows what diarrhea is and is not. Needless to say, that diarrhea diagnosis was incorrect.
On the second visit to the Polyclinic, on the very next day, another doctor couldn't diagnose conclusively since the Polyclinic apparently has no equipment to do so, hence the doctor had to refer me to the nearby hospital emergency department for immediate attention instead.
After a long half-day wait at the hospital emergency department on that very same day, an emergency room doctor finally carried out an ultrasound scan late that evening, which revealed the deadly large ovarian cyst.
The emergency room doctor determined from the ultrasound scan that there is no cancer fluid at all in the abdomen. In fact, the doctor told me that the acute pains that I had experienced the previous week were most likely caused by the cyst twisting upon itself and subsequently untwisting itself after a week, resulting in the pain resolving itself somewhat into that queasy sensation.
It is my layman opinion that if any cancer fluid had been detected in my abdomen during that ultrasound scan, the surgery would surely have been done immediately.
Furthermore, the severe acute pains that I had experienced the previous week did not recur once I was able to make my way to the Polyclinic, up until the hospital ultrasound scan and all the way until the day of surgery.
Surely the lower abdominal pains would have increased or remained severe while awaiting surgery if cancer fluids had truly been seeping out from the ovarian cyst because cancer cells that are present in such fluid are supposed to irritate the lining of the abdomen thus causing pain.
I underwent major surgery on 6th April 2015 to remove the huge 12.5 cm ovarian cyst, my womb, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, cervix, omentum, appendix and 29 lymph nodes. The diagnosis of ovarian cancer was confirmed for certain when the actual diseased ovarian cyst was sent to the lab for frozen section.
After surgery, I was told that my condition had to be graded as Stage 1c, which required immediate chemotherapy because the surgeons apparently found a lot of what seemed to be cancerous fluid floating around in my abdomen when they opened me up during surgery. The cancerous ovarian cyst was said to be apparently already leaking cancerous fluid into the surrounding tissues even before the surgery.
This is very strange because as mentioned above, the ultrasound scan prior to the surgery did not show any cancer fluid seeping out from the cancerous ovarian cyst. Furthermore, the intense pains that had plagued me before going to Polyclinic had already subsided to a queasy sensation by the time I arrived at the Polyclinic and subsequently when I arrived at the hospital emergency department. In fact, those pains did not recur even until up to surgery day.
I asked if the cancerous ovarian cyst was accidentally punctured during the incision or during the surgery but i received a negative answer.
Anyway, more complications were to occur after surgery, before I could commence chemotherapy. Within a week after surgery, I developed severe bloating in the abdomen and terrible crunching pains in my abdomen that were so bad that I could not swallow any food for 2 weeks. I informed the surgeon but he brushed it off as mere "gas".
Sadly, the malady was not mere "gas" but dreadful ascites (which is a massive and extremely painful build-up of cancerous fluid in the abdomen), which was thankfully picked up in a routine scheduled CT scan done 3 weeks after surgery.
As such, I had to suffer the horrible ascites needlessly for 2 weeks up until the CT scan and I also had to suffer the indignity of being brushed off and being ignored when I was certain that the pain indicated something far more serious than just "gas".
On the same day that the CT scan showed up the ascites, I was immediately and unceremoniously warded that same evening, totally unprepared, with no basic stuff with me.
It was a long and frustrating 10-day stay to clear up some of the ascites, achieved by puncturing 2 drainage needles into my abdomen to syringe out some of the ascites and then puncturing a drainage tube to connect to a pouch that got blocked on the second day, which couldn't be removed for a few more days due to no available doctors or slots. Despite all that effort and pain, the doctors had to leave behind pockets of ascites inside my abdomen because anymore punctures into my abdomen was determined to be risky due to the proximity of the pockets of ascites to the colon etc.
Finally after all that traumatic fiasco, upon discharge from hospital the second time around, I started my first-line of cancer treatment, comprising conventional chemotherapy on 21st May 2015, receiving Carboplatin and Paclitaxel (Taxol) chemotherapy for 6 cycles every 3 weeks as my medical oncologist said that it is an aggressive cancer (clear cell type) and is likely to come back despite surgery.
Despite the side effects, I persevered through this chemotherapy in the hope that I can survive to raise my son. I will do anything for him. Being 3 years old at the time, he did not know much. But, he saw me lose my hair, vomit, lying in bed unwell for hours and could not play with him – he could not comprehend or understand the reasons.
I thought it was all over and I can go back to lead a normal life. Then, the unthinkable happened. On the 21st September 2015, my medical oncologist suggested that I undergo another CT scan for a routine check-up after my chemotherapy (immediately after I finished my chemotherapy that same month).
The doctor told me it is now impossible to either operate or cure since the cancer has resurged aggressively to Stage 4 in such a short amount of time. My heart sank. I need more treatments but any treatment now is not curative. The doctor told me any treatment now is merely palliative, as follows:
• March to May 2016: Started second-line cancer treatment (6 weeks of clinical trial, low dose whole abdomen radiotherapy + Taxol chemo). Outcome: Tumors & cancer markers increased.
• June 2016 to Jan 2017: Started third-line cancer treatment (Taxol weekly). July 2016 to Jan 2017: Avastin added every 3 weeks. (MAF+ funding was 5 months until Nov 2016). Outcome: Tumors & cancer markers increased.
(* Clarification of the Avastin timeline in video below: The hospital MAF+ funding for Avastin ended in Nov 2016, as mentioned in the video. However, the Avastin drug ended in Jan 2017, which I forgot to mention in the video. My apologies for this. I seek your kind understanding that the video interview was proposed to me on the spur of the moment; hence, although I put in my best effort to recall the many timelines as best that I could in the video without referring to any notes, I Inadvertently missed out this one date. I hope viewers will not quibble with me for missing out this one single date, which doesn't change the material facts, in my humble opinion. Thank you for your kind understanding.)
• March to April 2017: Started fourth-line cancer treatment (Caelyx every 3 weeks). Outcome: Tumors & cancer markers increased some more; more excruciating right chest pains radiating down the right arm; shortness of breath.
I am a single parent and the sole-breadwinner. Oftentimes, I skip meals in order to save up enough money to feed my son proper meals, as he was born prematurely and underweight. I have met many kind people but the amount of help that I need is more than what my normal acquaintances can help.
I live in a small, barebones, 45-sqm, HDB flat (1 bedroom, 1 hall). I have sold off everything that I can sell, in order to survive month-to-month.
Unfortunately, I have no integrated health shield, no private health insurance and I am not covered under the CPF Dependent Protection Scheme. Hence, I am thankful to all the doctors, nurses, radiologists, therapists, counter staff, support staff and medical social workers for their kindness and support. As a subsidised patient, I am grateful to the government and hospital authorities for the basic MediShield Life, the 5-month funding for Avastin, subsequent funding for Caelyx, and the medical bill subsidy by Medifund (ends in May 2017).
Critically, I hope that your donation would be able to help me to gain urgent access to immunotherapy. Other critical needs include my dependents' medical bills and my own medical bills in other areas (e.g. dental, eyesight, other hospital follow-ups, etc); medical/personal accident insurance (I have to insure them too because I bitterly regret not having any hospitalisation coverage for myself); basic necessities; household bills; monthly bills; plumbing repairs etc; journeys to/from hospital (I am unsteady on my feet nowadays due to neuropathy and blood pressure is low); nutritious fresh whole foods especially in view of my diet requirements as a cancer sufferer in addition to my child's continuing need for a healthy wholesome diet to further develop/grow up well; bank debts left behind in my name by an abusive estranged spouse (who left the country several years ago and no contact); daily living expenses during these dark days with no foreseeable income in view of my ill health and cancer record, and even more so when my condition deteriorates and require hospice care; coming funeral expenses; and to set aside sufficient cash reserve for my poor mother to sustain herself and enable her to care for my young son when I pass on, as they will be in urgent need in the many years to come; especially with the impending loss of our current home upon my death.
Thank you sincerely in advance for all donations.
I heard variously in mid-2016 that immunotherapy treatment could possibly cost approximately $6,000++ per dose depending on medicine type and any pre-medications; it seems other cases apparently cost approximately $10,000+/- monthly. I heard that each dose apparently could possibly last for 3 weeks depending on the dosing.
Statistics show that the 5-year survival rate for this cancer is not good and I am unlikely to survive very long given that this is an aggressive, chemo-resistant cancer and it is now at Stage 4. Yet, I need to survive this fight for my life, for as many years as possible in order to stay with my son and bring him up well, as only a mother can. He is just too young to lose his mom.
I am appealing for help as I have exhausted all my social connections and charity appeals. I have sold off anything that is of value in my small flat.
Any help, no matter how big or small, will make a big difference to me and my son. Thank you all kindly.
Chek Ming ([email protected])
Besides GIVE, we have received SGD 97,964.91 from other sources.