Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Cancer that Killed My Eldest Sister...

I knew many were killed by cancer before. My beloved teachers, big stars on TV, friend of friends and those unknown in magazines. But I never thought of my eldest sister, Kak Ina would be one of them. It was hard to accept that I had to let her go 3 years ago, at the age of 42. She took her last breath in her house, Batu Pahat, Johor on 26 April, a day before my birthday in 2008.

Shocking news rewind...
One morning, I was awakened by a phone call from my eldest niece Jannah, a daughter of our late Kak Ina. I remember it was in December 2007. Jannah was 21 that time, in her Bachelor degree at University Malaysia Sabah. Before she returned to the campus, she told me that she was worried about her mum’s health and did not feel comfortable to go back to her campus. As usual, I would say, she would be ok..don’t worry.

Noticing that she was crying, I asked her what was going on? She would only tell if I promised not to tell anyone. And surely, yes was my answer. She said her mum might have cancer and was at that time waiting for other opinions. I could not believe what I heard and hoped that was just a dream. No it was not a dream. Not a nightmare either. I really hoped it was not true, the doctors were wrong about the diagnosis.

My whole body was trembling but I needed to appear strong to Jannah as she needed my courage. I told her to return to her campus and I would take care of the matter. And she returned a few days after. Tears started to burst and I cried on my bed helplessly, did not know what to do. I remembered the promise I had just made and I thought that it was not right to let late Kak Ina endured the burden alone.

The first call I made was to my other elder sister, Kak Ijea who lived in Klang and I told her everything I knew. As expected, she was shocked too. And we promised to help late Kak Ina as much as we could. Then, I gathered my strength to talk to late Kak Ina. She was surprised of how I found it out.

That was not important how I knew, but what matter most was doing the best to save her life. And I told her that the entire family had every right to know about what happened. And she promised she would tell after the other opinion's result came out.

Later, the second opinion agreed with the first, so did the third and the fourth. She was then referred to Selayang Hospital for the biopsies. It took more than a month to get it done and would take another few weeks for the results to come out. I did not know what took them so long. I myself called the hospital because I could not just wait. My brother in law paid them to send the tissue sample to private practice and able to get the results in only few days.

The Killer...
The results finally confirmed that late Kak Ina had cancer, stage 3. What type of cancer I asked? And the doctors said it was her bladder that affected. What?? Bladder cancer. Never heard of it. The cancer cell was already in lymph nodes and might have travelled to nearby organs. Ya Allah..how could that happened too fast. It was strange and unbelievable. And the causes to bladder cancer were so not related to my sister past. Absurd! I tried to absorb the fact..

My sister's life was at stake and I could not imagine how her life might become. I knew she was strong from her personality. But nobody knew what was inside. Kak Ina was a person that never complained about thing or life and she did not like to talk about her or other people. All she knew was to be good to people no matter how they treated her. She was low profile and different, might be one of a kind. People might see her just a housewife, a mother that only dedicated her life to her family.

In fact, she was excellent in her study, went to a boarding school, Sekolah Menengah Sains Kelantan, then to University of Texas to study Electrical Engineering. She never worked as she had decided to be a full time mum. Jannah was born in Texas. Apart from that, she was active in sports, made to state athlete with her own records, few times of female athlete figure and she was a head girl in the boarding school too. She behaved like no one in the family because she was too good to be compared with us in the family.

Premonition..might be
Few months before she was diagnosed, she did a splendid job. Probably, she had premonition of leaving us forever. When mum was very ill of thyroid, she insisted to bring mum to Batu Pahat. She volunteered to look after mum until mum was fully recovered. She controlled mum's diets and managed mum's appointments with doctor. It took months to recover. Splendid job, wasn't it?

I remember spending the Eid in Batu Pahat that year and it was not fun because I missed my kampung so much. I respected late Kak Ina so much because she offered help knowing that we the other siblings have responsibility at work and she was so patient and tender. I knew I could never do like she did to mum. May Allah reward her for those good deeds. Ameen.

I knew she suffered from cough few months. There was no other sign but the cough. Then I got the point why they did not come back to kampung for Eid-Adha, when she initially planned to do so. I remember they were all not well that time, that was the reason why they did not join the Eid. We were disappointed but we were ok, health what matter most. Late Kak Ina actually went for medical check-up and found out about the disease however, doctor was not too sure about that as well. That was why she went for 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinions.

My Sister's Keeper
My mum came again all the way from Kelantan, this time she nursed my late Kak Ina and took over my sister's job in the house. My mum saw rapid growth of the cancer since the biopsies. I remember the last time my sister came for her check-up, her belly was swollen a bit, almost normal in size but firm like stone. She looked thinner than ever before. Her skin became yellowish, eyes too, seemed like liver was affected.

The stage 3 of cancer shocked everyone in the families, relatives and friends. Stage 3 probably meant a bit too late and be prepared! Too fast to prepare actually. It could be cured for some cancers with some treatments. So, we kept hoping. Within a month, she often came for check-up with mum and her husband, dropped by at my house after that. We usually gathered there, and she always loved to meet Aisha, Kak Ijea's new daughter. Seeing her smile made a lot of different to my feeling.

Within a month, in fact the cancer cells had already travelled faster than we thought. To her lung, breast, liver, colon and many other parts. I do not remember. Metastasis, so called. Then, the examination stopped. It frightened us even more. However, that did not stop us from finding alternative medicine. We spent countless hours searching for information about the healing methods, call friends, talk to doctors. And we tried some such as 'garam bukit' and cut down sugar as I found in some articles.

The Killer Rapid Movement...
When I visited her 2 weeks later, her belly turned like 7 months pregnant. I felt like my world was faded because I could not believe how fast the killer cells grew. I wanted to scream because I was so helpless, unable to stop that from growing crazy and my late sister was the only one who felt the pain. We did feel too but nothing was comparable. I cried a lot asking why was my sister but I was not supposed to feel that way. I knew. I always prayed that Allah would send miracle to her. One miracle was enough. My mum, she looked stronger than me. May be because she is a mum and always be.

I came almost every weekends since then, and she was becoming more like the anorexia nervosa sufferer with 12 months pregnant like belly size. I hardly recognized her as she turned so skinny; so skinny until it changed the way she appeared. I combed her hair sometimes and stroke her belly. And talk to her about that. It was firm..very very firm and painful. She easily got exhausted and lost appetite too.

The cancer had spread more and more and shown their extensive territory to my sister's backbone, covered entirely until I could no longer feel her backbone. And the upper body too, up to chest. All firm and no more shape. What left were skin and bones. No muscle, not that I could see.

Nevertheless, she never complained. All she did was, keep praying (solat) like she used to be. From standing to sitting, then lying down. She never wanted to stop praying. I remember reading a motivation book to her, Qur'an and it's translation, as she loved listening to that.

She became more and more weary until at one stage, she was unable to walk on her own. And the kids were always helpful. One time, I helped her to obtain her wudhu', she washed her wrist many times after another, seeing that I could not help my tears from burst because she had forgotten the sequences. She started being confused and forgetful. All that happened in just less than two months. And I did not mentally prepare that quick. We went to see traditional practitioner as well and 2 weeks before she passed, we went to Darul Syifa'. But, it was hard to tell, they said.

Then, I took a week leave and helped my mum, I watched my late sister struggled to live, it was getting more and more painful she said. I prayed and prayed and prayed, hoping that she would be better. Pray that the killer cell stopped spreading, and the healthy cells were strong enough to beat those killer cells. But, her condition was getting the other way around. I realized that my sister had done the best that far, I could not bear my feeling every time I see her screaming in pain, and I thought that I should let her go if that was best for her. Redha. So I thought the rest did.

We, the siblings were all there, a day before she passed. She started feeling down, feeling that she did many sins and told us how sorry she was for things that she did. Sorry for her decision not to work which it was the story of 24 years ago, sorry for not able to take care of her kids anymore, sorry for not being a good sister for us, sorry for not spending time to her cousins like the way she used to be. Those were not a sin as she claimed she did many. If those were many to her, I can not imagine what are mine like? Astaghfirullah.. And I personally think that she did her best as the eldest sister for us, helped us in many ways. So many.

We told her not to give up because Allah chose a special person to face this kind of battle. My elder brother, Abang Ha was her closest sibling because they were both from 60's, they grew up together. Me and Kak Ijea are from 70's and my younger siblings, Ema and Emey are from 80's. Three different eras.

They both travelled to Singapore, and live in Sabah together. They had a long talk that night, the rest of us were there listened more. When they cried, we also cried. I knew Abang Ha did feel her pain more than we did. Abang Ha told her that her sin might only be as big as her belly, that Allah put her that way to cleanse those tiny sins. She felt better.

Seeing her getting better the next day, we left her, back to work. Mum promised if she turned worst again, she would call. That night, she told mum that she wanted to go for a long journey and have good deep sleep. My mum had the feeling that my sister's time was near. I knew my mum, she was mentally ready, that was why she appeared strong. Kids also were there beside their beloved mum except Jannah as she was having her final exam that time. My sister slept like a baby that night till the next day..peacefully. She passed away on her sleep. Indeed, in good, deep and peaceful sleep.

A Time To Say Goodbye
We went back to meet her for the last time. I remember driving my sister's MPV like 170 km/h to get there the soonest. When we reached there, everything was done except to permanently covered my sister’s face. Jannah was there too, reading Qur'an, just arrived from Sabah. And she was calm, so did the rest of my sister's kids. Masyallah..

When my mum open the cover that covered my sister's face, we saw a miracle. So, that was. It was a miracle to see my sister was back. Subhanallah! Allahuakbar! We cried in relief. I recognised her face that moment, her face before she fell sick, even better. Her beautiful and glowing face. Ya Allah.. I did not know how it happened but I knew Allah has His own way of making miracle. Kissing her goodbye was hard but it was time to let her body go after her soul. May Allah grant her a place with solihin..Ameen ya robbal alameen. Al-Fatihah...

We have always missed her, sometimes we still feel her around us. She left her 6 kids whom carry her spirits, Jannah will be doing her Master soon, Ahmad is in Japan on his Engineering undergraduate, Iwan in his Business Studies in UITM, Huda just had 6As in her SPM, Wani got 5As in UPSR last year and Khairina is still in her standard 2. They are all her treasure, our treasure. I am truly proud of them because they are strong enough to understand and accept what Allah has planned for their mother. I understand their lost, because I lost my dad when I was young too.

Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khuduri and Huraira: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.

p.s: Dearest my beloved nieces and nephews, do not forget. I could never be like your mother but I will always be there for you. Talk to me anytime. Share with me anything. I love you guys always..

~Jazz Aziz~

Friday, April 22, 2011

Be Careful of Ingredients in your Skincare Products

Salam and Hi,

Hey ladies. I just read this article. Probably, it is good to share as we are so attached with skin care products. I personally don't know what ingredients that might harm our skin. I grabbed my body lotion and it contains some of those harmful. My God..unbelievable! Or  may be small amount of these ingredients is okay. I don't know. Should we read more. Grab your products and start checking the ingredients please! Read this first...

The following list contains some of the most common ingredients used in skincare products, which have proven adverse health effects. We recommend you avoid products that contain any of these ingredients.

Acrylamide: Found in many hand and face creams. Studies suggest it may cause breast tumors.
Alcohols: ethanol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and SD alcohol - Very drying and irritating for the skin. Alcohols strip away the skin's natural acid mantle, making you more vulnerable to bacteria, moulds and viruses. May promote brown spots and premature aging of skin. (Note: stearyl and cetearyl alcohol, which are waxes and have nothing in common with the alcohols listed above.)
DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine): Often used in skincare products to adjust the pH. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects.
Dioxane: (a synthetic derivative of coconut). Widely used in skincare products. Usually contains high concentrations of 1,4-dioxane, easily absorbed through the skin. 1,4-dioxane is considered a chemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer." It is a by-product of the cancer-causing petrochemical ethylene oxide, which is used as part of a process called ethoxylation, which makes harsh ingredients milder.
1,4-Dioxane is also suspected of being a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA. It is also a leading groundwater contaminant.
Fragrance: The term ‘fragrance’ is a real minefield. It can refer to up 4000 separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Many common fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, and irritability.
Mineral oil: liquid paraffin, paraffin wax, petrolatum – a petroleum by-product that coats the skin to keep in moisture. It clogs the pores, interferes with skin's ability to eliminate toxins, encouraging acne and other disorders. Can cause photosensitivity and strips the natural oils from the skin causing chapping and dryness, also premature ageing. Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH's (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Skincare manufacturers use mineral oil because it’s cheap.
Nitrosamines: Can be formed in skincare products when amines (such as DEA, MEA or TEA) are combined with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (such as bronopol or quaternium-15). Nitrosamines are known to be carcinogenic.
Padimate-O: (also known as octyl dimethyl) - found mostly in sunscreens. Like DEA, a nitrosamine-forming agent. There is concern that the energy absorbed by this sunscreen is then turned into free radicals, which may actually increase the risk of skin cancer!
Parabens: methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl paraben – Widely used as a preservative in skincare products (including moisturizers). Studies suggest they may cause cancer and interfere with the body’s endocrine system, as well as causing allergic reactions and skin rashes.
Phenol carbolic acid: Found in many lotions and skin creams. Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma and even death from respiratory failure.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG): Widely used as an emulsifier and humectant. Suspected of being carcinogenic.
Rancid natural emollients: Natural oils used in skincare products should be cold pressed. When oils are refined, they are stripped of vital nutrients and also contain poisonous trans fatty acids. Natural oils can also go rancid if kept past their use-by date.
Toluene: Made from petroleum or coal tar, and found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.
Triclosan: An anti-bacterial agent, widely used in skincare products (also used in weed killers). There is evidence to suggest triclosan may contribute to creating strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, due to its wide use in skincare products.
Source: Click here

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The War You Don't See

Not having any program in mind last night, I accidentally turned-on 'The Biggest Losser'. I am not a fan but I sometimes watched that during my dinner. That time was Lara's elimination leaving her blue team. Tears came out when Lara gave her last words. It was very courageous to be like her as her total lost of more than 37 kg, from 107 kg of her weight at the beginning of the season premiere on late January this year. Seeing the make over of her was totally amazing. Then, I switched to SBS and found an interesting documentary waiting in the next 30 minutes.
Watching the War You Don't See brought me another insight of the stupid and shameful world political leaders against major wars that happened around us since I don't know probably long time ago. The propaganda, the untold stories behind the tragedy and the crime on a very large scale. The documentary was hosted by John Pilger, an Australian journalist, a writer and a film maker. 

When I was a kid, I was too busy with my world. Every time I saw people died in a war on TV, I was sad wondering why did people kill other people. I didn't understand. Probably, they were very badly behaved. And I didn't ask more. Now, I understand behind all these, there are agendas that the leaders does not want the people to know. If we know the truth, it will be difficult for them in achieving their goals.

Wars since World War 1, or may be wars from long time before, the World War II, Vietnam’s War, the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and many other have been heartbreaking to many of normal human being in this world. All these while, we are so spoon-fed by the news told by the mainstream media which are responsible in spreading their propaganda. 

And, it was ashamed that all these while most of us believed in the news and live with it. We, the audience are the victims, and more sadly the civilians in the targeting area of the war. Their blood is priceless to them. While we are sitting comfortably, many people’s lives are at stake. Many women lost their husbands and brothers. Many children live as orphans. Helplessly, we could only watched from far with tears and send prayers to them. 
Confessions of some embedded journalists whom smelled something fishy were shocking. So did the army. Embedded journalist refers to news reporters being attached to military units involved in armed conflicts. Don’t ask don’t tell. That is how they work. How they blindly accepted orders and executed just like that. 

I watched a footage of the American troops waited to shoot a number of man on the street in Iraq. After they got orders, they killed them all. And they said ‘Nice’. How sad. Surprisingly, a woman and a boy were also wounded in that scene. They were civilian. I wonder who the terrorist really are. 
Many true stories were hidden, many seen on TV were planned. The ethics of embedded journalism are considered as controversial, while ‘unembedded’ journalism is associated with courage and independence. I salute the independent as well as the embedded journalist that realize and struggle for the truth, put their life in danger to tell the world what has been going on. 

Most of them, did not know the truth until they were really there, seeing them with their eyes, experience them on hand. Watching the pain of the people, they knew something was not right. Some of the these journalist died because they were killed by the troops. I read their stories and it touched my heart the deepest because they sacrificed their life for us. For the world.
The life or blood of men, women and children in the war depend on the truth that lies behind the untold stories in the mainstream media. They suppose to be the voices of people not power. Their voices will actually save the world. On the other hand, you journalist are the most powerful agent to bring awareness to the public about the truth of the events occurred because you know the truth. But sadly, the mainstream media is already part of the game. Nevertheless, this would not stop us in knowing the fact. Open your eyes, seek the truth. 
~Jazz Aziz~

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I wanna be fit!! Jom!

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night. I felt I have excessive fat at my tight. I knew I have fat there but I don't think that much!! To make sure, I touched it and was so surprised because it was really there. How on earth did I not realize them!! I was nearly screaming but I was too sleepy to make a sound. 

Haha...First thing I woke up this morning, I checked them. Haha.....to my relief..it was only a nightmare. A freaking nightmare! Laughing at myself...may be it happened because I watched the biggest losser the night before. hihi...or probably of the depression and insomnia lately.

Today, I want to share tips of the day of how to keep ourselves fit. I am now weighted of 59kg. I gain 4 kg in 2 months which is not a good thing. Let us do something to ourselves. These tips are not expensive at all. Everybody can try, the choice is always ours. Prevention is better than cure ok. 

Stay healthy to avoid chronic diseases, and save money! Do you know why?? If we ignore a healthy lifestyle, we could easily get sick and welcome diseases to our body. The cost for the treatment itself is extremely huge. Imagine if the money could be used for things that we like such as travelling or shopping...ngee. We might not be able to prevent some diseases but at least we do something to reduce the risk. And these are some kind of investment for a better future.

  1. Exercise regularly.
  2. Sleep earlier.
  3. Take vitamin supplement.
  4. Cut down red meats and eat more vegetables.
  5. Never skip breakfast.
  6. Avoid stress out.
  7. Never let ourself hungry.
  8. Eat complete meal.
  9. Wash hand often.
  10. See doctors for checkup.
I would like to share some pictures of Fox Glacier hiking in New Zealand last summer. It was my first ever experience and God knew how was the feeling. How deadly it was! I was't prepare for that, I mean physically I was not! In the middle, I felt like I was out of breath. I thought I would die there! But alhamdulillah not yet. I just needed to hold on a lil longer to get there. It was paid when I really got there. Masyallah...God creation left me speechless. Next time, I will need to prepare..please..

Half day expedition to Fox Glacier, New Zealand
Feb, 2011

Okay, get back to the subject. Burn those calories! Keep ourself moving at the very least is walk. Benefits of exercises are reducing stress, more productive, stronger immune system, heathy skin, prevent obesity, better sleep and no dieting!! 

Need to put more info but I have to go for groceries shopping. Shopping for fruit, vegetables, eggs, fish, chicken.....bla... Anyway, let's do this! Live healthily! Rosha, keep your words ok..Gym or Zumba next week! I am looking forward ok! Good luck everyone. The choice is ours...as always.

~Jazz Aziz~