This testimonial was sent by Mr TH Quah, the father of Quah Lyn Si, a YWD (Young Women Division) from Malaysia. He would like to share with everyone his daughter’s story on her valiant battle against leukemia for almost two years. Lyn Si, a role model for many YWDs in Penang, Malaysia passed away and moved on to her next mission on 15 Nov 2010. During her battle against her illness, she strengthened her faith and lived a more meaningful life. According to Mr Quah, “I believe my daughter did persevere to the final moment of her life as she was continuing to do kosen rufu and chanting daimoku to the final moment. Her appearance at the moment of death shows an inner radiance -the joyful expression (her face smiling); the noble expression who shines with the triumph of a lofty mission fulfilled, imparting courage and hope to all beholders (my family).” Lyn Si wrote this testimonial on 2 Nov 2010, two weeks before her passing. The same day she completed her one million daimoku. We’ll be publishing her mission and her prayers, as well as how her nurses and friends remember her in another post soon.
In September 2008, the swelling lymph nodes did subside a little. I was worried as I never had swollen lymph nodes as an effect of fever. However, I ignored the swelling because the doctor told me that the tissue of the lymph nodes take time to return to its original state.
In October 2008, just one week before my SPM (government public examination), I had fever for the second time. This time my father took me to another clinic.
The doctor did a blood test but the result came out normal. In November 2008, I felt hot and sweated during the nights, get tired walking up the stairs or walking for a long distance. Basically, I get tired doing physical activities. So, my father and I went to see the doctor again and he advised us to see a specialist.
Right after my SPM on 28 November 2008, my mother and I went to Loh Guan Lye Specialist Centre to see the physician. After examining and questioning me, he told me I looked fine and that this illness might be either TB (Tuberculosis) at the lymph or blood disorder. But since I looked so well, he suspected it to be TB.
He also wanted to take a few samples of my lymph nodes but unfortunately, the surgeon was on leave. The physician suggested that I came back on 1 December 2008 to do a full check up and go for surgery. He gave me a TB skin test which would take three days to obtain the result.
On the 1 December 2008, the TB skin test result was negative. However, my blood test result showed that I had leukemia and the surgery was canceled.
Although the news was shock to me, I was lucky that I did not need to go through the surgery as I would lose blood in the process. The physician referred me to another doctor who specializes in blood and cancer (haematologist, oncologist and physician).
When I was told that I had leukemia, one particular question popped out in my head: “Why me? I’d been a good girl so far… WHY?”
I cried the whole evening after I got home and did not chant for two days. Then, with the encouragement of my family members, I slowly built up the courage and decided to treat this leukemia as a long flu.
The next day, we drove down to Gleneagles Medical Centre (GMC) to consult this doctor. I was not in the mood to chant at all. I was feeling down, tired, depressed, no life-force – I had generally given up hope.
My mother, on the other hand, chanted when she drove. She was determined that, with abundance of daimoku, I would be cured from this illness.
When we reached the hospital, we found out that he was on leave. Fortunately, thanks to the protection from the Buddhist gods, he was willing to see us. He was shocked to see me with my blood report result and still running around, not warded.
He angrily asked my mother, “Why is she not warded? She might get a stroke you know?”
Immediately after his review, he took me as his patient and did a bone marrow test which confirmed that I had a T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). This illness is considered high risk as T-cell ALL are rare (10%).
I was hospitalized for a week before my chemotherapy started. I was healthy all the time and that was my first time ever in my life I slept in a ward alone with IV drips. After a month, I was able to discharge from the hospital.
Our family was lucky because my father’s company was paying my medical bills. Before I had this illness, the department my father was working for was planning to close down.
Each employee was offered a sum of money or transferred to another department. My father thought for a long time and after chanting and obtained wisdom, he decided to leave the company instead of accepting the transfer offer to the other department in Kuala Lumpur.
Mystically after a few weeks, the company announced a new department which would be set up in Penang. Immediately he applied for the post and after abundant of daimoku, he got the job based in Penang.
This was the protection of the Buddhist gods – if he took the money instead, how were we able to pay my medical bills?
In and out, I went to the hospital throughout 2009 for blood checkups and chemotherapy. Seeing other patients in the haematology, oncology and transplant centre who were struggling regardless of what to survive, I too found hope.
Although I am a Gohonzon baby, I only started to deepen my faith then. Slowly, I chanted and without realizing it, I did my human revolution. I became more compassionate, more understanding and less hot-tempered. I also became more appreciative. I changed a lot due to this illness and in fact, I was glad to have this illness.
The effects of chemotherapy were horrible. The treatment caused blood counts to drop. The drug caused nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. I had ulcers in my whole mouth which made me unable to eat. I also had sorethroat, body aches, hair loss and I need blood transfusion when my blood counts were rock bottom.
There was once I could not even walk due to the injection to keep my counts up. My veins hardened which caused pain, so I was inserted a chemo port at my chest.
My immune system was very low, which caused me to have infection and fever and had to be warded for observation. Sometimes, I just felt like giving up but with the encouragement and the support of my family, I held on.
Remembering Nichiren Daishonin’s guidance: “The journey from Kamakura to Kyoto takes twelve days. If you travel for eleven but stop with one day remaining, how can you admire the moon over the capital?”
I was infected by another virus – Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the liver – due to the blood transfusion. My liver function test result was abnormal, so they did a liver biopsy and found out that there is CMV virus. Fortunately, it was said to be not harmful if it was not active.
By the end of 2009, I finished my course of heavy dosage of chemotherapy and ending my maintenance course when I felt pain at my neck and had headaches.
I complained to my doctor and a Lumbar Puncture was done. He found out that I had a relapse in the Central Nervous System. He then scheduled me for radiotherapy.
The radiotherapy was not as bad as the chemotherapy, the only side effects were fatigue, diarrhea and dry skin. After recovering from radiotherapy, my doctor planned to start me on a new chemo drug, which was not registered in Malaysia. He had to get the approval from the health ministry and the clearance from custom which could take a long time. Meanwhile, my white blood counts slowly rose up to 200, which were abnormal and dangerous.
Finally, he found a suitable donor for double cord blood transplant. He told me that as long as I was in a good remission, I would be able to undergo the transplant. He suggested to me to do the transplant in the National University Hospital in Singapore.
Under the protection of the Buddhist gods, the chemo drug I mentioned earlier was quickly approved and I was able to start using it. The first and second time was alright, not much side effects and my blood counts did not go rock bottom.
In March 2010, during my chemotherapy treatment, I had pneumonia that made me breathless and had to depend on oxygen mask, even when just walking to the toilet. After recovering from pneumonia, my doctor did a bone marrow test and found out that I was in remission.
Since my father’s company would cover the medical expenses only if the bone marrow transplant was done in Malaysia, my doctor arranged for me to meet another doctor in Sime Darby Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur for a discussion. Unfortunately, this doctor refused to do the transplant as he was not confident. He also doubt that I was in the suitable condition to do the transplant. He said that the chances of a cure are very slim and the side effects of the transplant would be very painful and suffering.
I lost hope once again but with the encouragement of my parents, I stood back up, strong and determined to do the transplant in Singapore no matter what.
Returning to Penang, I continued the third infusion for the new chemo drug where my doctor found out I had a relapse again. This time he decided to use a heavier chemotherapy protocol. My blood counts drop to 0.00 and blood transfusion was done every day.
Once I recovered from the effects, again I was given the same chemotherapy. Everything started all over again – blood counts drop, blood transfusion and chemotherapy.
When the new drug was used up, I was finally free from the harsh treatment. Of course I had a few infections in between these treatments as my blood counts were so low. In July 2010, my doctor changed my chemotherapy drug to a milder one.
During this period, my father was sent to attend a team building course in Kuala Lumpur and had an opportunity to speak to his department director on the medical support for the transplant I would be undergoing in Singapore.
My father’s department director brought the issue up to the board of directors and they agreed to support us with a medical fee of S$500,000. We were totally grateful to my father’s department director as he was our shoten zenjin (Buddhist god).
My friends, relatives and teachers also supported me with some donation. I am very thankful to them.
Later on, I had severe headaches. My doctor done a Lumbar Puncture and found out that the pain ws caused by my high cerebrospinal fluid (CFS) pressure was high.
He gave me some medication to reduce the pressure and sleeping pills, so that I do not feel the pain. Soon, I was better and able to go on ward leaves.
I would like to quote here: “Every minute you spend in the bed is making you stronger, so that you can face bigger difficulties in the future.”
In October 2010, my doctor confessed that he thought I was not going to make it through March 2010 because he thought the approval of the new chemo drug would take a longer time and by the time it was approved, I could have already died. After hearing this, I realized I am truly very lucky to have the Gohonzon and am practicing the teachings of Nichiren’s Buddhism.
Soon after that, I was just on a chemo injection to control my white blood counts. It was only a miracle that I am able to be free from these cancer cells.
On faith, daimoku and practice
Although I was born as a Gohonzon baby, I never really had faith in the Gohonzon until I was given this opportunity. Initially it was hard for me to practice this Buddhism, but with abundant daimoku, reading Sensei’s guidance together with constant encouragements from my family and senior members, I persevered.
I am grateful to have been born as a Gohonzon baby. My grandfather was introduced to this Buddhism and my family eventually followed.
I am grateful to have the Gohonzon and to be able to practice this Buddhism.
I am grateful to have a supporting family. They encourage me when I am feeling down and depressed.
I am grateful to President Ikeda. Even though he does not know me in person, he sent me guidance all the way from Japan.
I am also grateful to all the members who encourage me, gave me guidance and chanted for me.