What? I have a tumor in my brain !

As with the desire of most Singaporeans, it is my great expectation to have retired after working for almost 40 years. During my working life as an office worker, it was rather common to have come across emotionally ‘headache’ situations from time to time. However, I cannot remember the last time I had a physical headache. Therefore I did not have to take MC during most of my working years. In fact, throughout my entire life I should have consumed less than an average of 1 panadol per year. I therefore have every confidence of the state of health of my brain.

After my retirement, I have signed up various health check programmes from time to time. One of them is the semi-annual eyes test. I still can maintain my perfect 6/6 vision for my right eye though the left eye keep failing in Vision Field test. After an MRI scan on 29 March 2015, it was discovered that there was a lump of tumor of about 18mm diameter. It was classified Pituitary Adenoma. I was told by the doctor that it was pressing on my optic nerve and hence I failed in my vision test. The bad news was that surgery is the most effective way to remove it.

On being informed that surgery is needed, the doctor has cautioned that my eyes could become blind if the tumor grew and totally pressed onto the optic nerve. On the other hand, the side effect of the surgery could mean

(i) blindness could still happen if the optic nerve were damaged during surgery,
(ii) partial stroke can happen due to disturbance to other nerve,
(iii) leakage of brain fluid could happen in the process of removing the tumor,
(iv) infection of the brain lining if damaged and
(v) hormone secretion problem in the pituitary gland.

Faced with so many risk factors, I was quite in a dilemma as to decide whether to proceed with the surgery. The following weeks were all spent on finding out more information regarding the tumor and evaluate the risks and benefit of the surgery.

Finally I decided to proceed with the surgery through the noses (transsphenoidal surgery) in early May 2015. The surgery was successful but it was unfortunate that brain fluid leakage occurred, ‘fat grafting’ from my stomach was necessary. It was also awful to have the noses blocked up and breath through the mouth for the first night after surgery. Luckily, knowing how to swim helps a lot. I was warded for 7 days.

After discharge, I could really experience how a physical headache look like in the second week! I also lost the sense of smell for about a month – so during this period all public toilets are pleasant to use, also eating durians without sensing its smell!

Thank God that the headache has gone and my noses functions have almost recovered. The only outstanding issue now is my hormone level need to be closely monitored as the surgery was done next to the master gland. I will have to consult the Endocrine doctor for the rest of my life.




An Inspirational Story of Aloysius & Denyse…

My fiancée & I were making plans for marriage when I met with a cycling accident in December 2013. I passed out from the accident and was admitted to hospital. Brain scans picked up a mass in my brain. The MRI confirmed the tumour and I was diagnosed with a Trigeminal Schwannoma. As I was not experiencing any symptom, I could not accept my condition. Over the next nine months, I sought medical advice from various doctors; the consensus was to have surgery. It took me some time for me to accept that I had to take this step, through a combination of support from my fiancée and my parents, my new found faith in God, friends in church, and finding out more from others who had been through the journey such as Melissa Lim, founder of BTSS.

On September 2014, I went for the operation to remove my tumour. Over the next six weeks, I had to re-learn even the most basic of human tasks such as walking through twice-daily physiotheraphy sessions. I suffered the after effects of facial paralysis, loss of hearing, double vision, dry eyes, walking unsteadiness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness & headache. I am pleased to say I am healed of most of these symptoms and my health is getting better as the days pass. I am no longer on medication but I still have regular visits to the neurosurgeon for follow-up. I was very fortunate during that period to have support and encouragement from my parents, fiancée and the BTSS members who took turns to come visit me almost every other day. Their encouragement and advice for gave us more information and insight how to go through the entire process.I have stopped cycling and have switched to light exercises such as stationary bikes and jogging. I have also picked up more therapeutic and stress relieving hobbies like reading and playing the piano.

Denyse and I were married on February 2015, 5 months after my operation. Before my diagnosis, we have been together for 12 years. We have been through many ups and downs, although my medical condition was a major life challenge, it wasn’t something we could not overcome together. I am blessed my religion has helped me through this journey. Now I have a new role as a husband, I have to live strong not just for myself but also my new family. I am feeling great and appreciate every single day.

BTSS has helped me in understanding that I am not on this journey alone. Through meetings with other survivors and patients, we share our stories and motivate each other during this journey. Sometimes it can be tough to share our feelings and thoughts to our family and friends who have not been through this. The talks and the sharing from the nurses during the BTSS meeting has also helped me to get more insights into what brain tumour is all about, the things to look out for, what can be done to improve the quality of life.

I am often reminded of this quote:
It ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.” ~ Rocky Balboa



I was knocked down by a taxi while cycling on 7 Dec 2012. During the emergency operation to fix my broken pelvis, spine and lower right leg, a CT scan showed there was some white mass on the left frontal lobe of my brain. The doctors thought it might be a blood clot due to the accident and decided to monitor it. I had another surgery in April 2013 and took an MRI after that. The MRI then showed I had a brain tumour, the diagnosis was “suggestive of a low grade oligodendroglioma”. As I was feeling fine and did not display any symptoms, I was advised by the NNI doctors to wait and see how the brain lesion progressed.

In Jan 2014, I started feeling unwell with giddiness, headaches and fainting fits. I was admitted twice and the CT scans/MRI showed that the tumour had already increased in size. I was devastated, as if recovering from my accident wasn’t bad enough, I was facing cancer of the brain. In February 2014, I underwent a craniotomy. A biopsy confirmed that the tumour was an anaplastic astrocytoma. My doctor quickly referred me to NCC for chemotherapy & radiotherapy treatments. At NCC, I started on daily radiotherapy with adjuvant oral chemotherapy for 6 weeks (30 times). After this grueling treatment, I rested for 1 month before starting another 6 cycles of chemotherapy. I have completed the treatment but continue to go to NCC for regular MRI every 3 months and I have to be continued on medications to prevent the occurrence of seizures.

My cycling accident and discovery of the brain tumour turned my life, and that of my wife’s, completely upside down. My wife, Patricia, had to quit her job to look after me full-time. An active sportsman before my accident, I can no longer enjoy physical activities such as rugby, jogging and sailing. I still cycle, but only along park connectors for short distances and with Patricia by my side. As for income, I now work from home, running my own paper trading business.

On the bright side, I have not felt nauseous since my brain operation. People say you can only declare yourself cancer-free after a 5-year period. I say each day is a blessing. It has brought Patricia and I closer, as we spend a lot more time together. Having a positive mind, building up your immunity, and keeping a healthy, organic diet are all important to people recovering from brain surgery. Drink plenty of water, this is the secret to life.

I am very glad for the monthly BTSS support group meetings where I meet other patients. Having to share my story, I have opened up about my misfortune and in return, I find that I am not alone in this journey, there are many others with greater need than I, and by sharing, I am in a position to help them.




To get the news that you have cancer is devastatingly hard and difficult. To find out that you have 3 tumors in the brain is very, very, very difficult. I reacted with anxiety, sadness and fear.

In June this year, I had a ‘fit’ before I was about to participate in a charity run. My husband phoned the ambulance and I spent many days in the hospital to investigate my whole body. MRI and PET scans, blood tests, eye tests and spinal cord samples. After a week I went home. My parents came to visit from Stockholm, Sweden.

June 19th, we met the doctor, who gave me the diagnosis that I had ‘3 Glioblastoma IV tumors with Oligodendroglial components’, the worst and the most dangerous cancer. Two of the tumors could be surgically removed, but the third had to be treated with radiation therapy because of its position, to hopefully be reduced in size and disappear.

I packed a small bag and went back to the hospital after the visit to be admitted and just 3 days after my diagnosis, I had major surgery to remove the 2 tumors. I was greeted by my beloved little family and a very difficult week followed with a lot of tears, but also very many hugs and kisses.

I left the hospital with a lot of medicine. My oldest daughter went back to University in the UK and my youngest daughter went to New York for a summer course before University and my beloved husband for more than 20 years, stayed at home with me for two weeks while I recovered from the operation. The combined Radio & Chemo Therapy treatment started July 22nd and my beloved mother came to Singapore again to help and support me.

I finished the sessions last week. I’m very much looking forward to a months of rest, before it’s time to start the double dose of chemo five days every month for 6 months or more.

I hope that the news are positive in November when I have my follow up MRI scan scheduled and that the tumors are gone and that I will have more time with my dear family and friends. My sincere appreciation to all the doctors, radiation therapists and nurses I have meet in the hospitals I have visited and received treatment.

I have a very aggressive form of brain cancer and the prognosis made me sad and worried… but I am determined to do my very best and be positive, even though my hair has disappeared.

I will live life to the fullest with my beloved husband, my daughters, family and friends.


Cheryl P

In 2013, I attended a research programme. Part of the programme included an MRI scan. The scan revealed a tumour in my brain. It was later diagnosed to be malignant, stage 3. I was shocked and frightened.

I called my uncle for support. Heeding the advice of my doctor, I opted for surgery instead of biopsy.

In Jan 2015, I underwent a surgery to have the brain tumour removed. As I was wheeled into the operating theatre, I prayed that I will survive. After 5 hours, the doctors declare the operation a success. I had pulled through.

When I woke up, I was in the high dependency ward. I could only speak gibberish for a week, and had to use gestures to communicate. Despite that, I recovered very quickly. By the very next day, I was wheeled into the general ward.

Currently, I have completed my (aggressive) radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment. I am still undergoing chemotherapy.

Recently, I attended the Brain Tumour Support Singapore group meeting for the first time. It was a fun experience, meeting so many people from all around the world who share my difficulty and pain.

I am awaiting results from another MRI scan. I hope to receive good news soon.