When the dust has settled, you will discover it was never random!
“My season with this job has come to an end,” I explained to the team at work after I tendered my resignation in very short notice in August last year. The heads of department were in utter disbelief that I would leave the hotel I helped to open and worked hard to bring to its present height after 6 long years.
I knew my journey with the hotel was nearing its end when the differences in professional ethics between my then employer and I had become too apparent to ignore. When the overwhelming emotions at work had subsided and everyone seemed to have come to terms with my impending departure, and I had completed with my handover, I was more than happy and at peace to move on.
The peace I had first puzzled me and later assured me. I was puzzled initially because even with the cold hard reality of being jobless staring right at my face, I was at peace. No panic, no anxiety, no sleepless nights nor loss of appetite. As time progressed, I knew it was simply the Lord taking me out from the job and leading me to another new season of my life. I was assured and His peace sustained me.
I was convinced that God had a purpose for the whole incident from the get-go but the challenge was, He did not reveal to me immediately. I sensed that at the time all I was required to do, was to simply trust and wait upon Him. With the year coming to an end, I decided it would be the perfect timing to take a nice long break. I was also very confident that something great would turn up in the new year in my job front.
I rested, spent time with my parents and siblings, caught up with friends, indulged in letting my creative juices flow in my upcycling crafts and produced my first design of prayer journals and notebooks. I was recharged and refreshed. At the end of it, I was happy and well adjusted.
As we stepped into December and I was ready to welcome my favourite season of the year, God’s purpose for bringing me out from the job unfolded slowly.
We first noticed of our 73-year-old mum’s alarming yellowish complexion. For that one week in early December, dad and I accompanied her to the specialist centre on a daily basis for the cause of the jaundice to be determined. It started with a blood test the first day, MRI the next and followed by CT scan on the third day which led to the proper diagnosis of bile duct stricture caused by narrowed bile duct. The following day she went for the procedure to insert a stent in her narrowed bile duct to drain the bile.
The procedure went smoothly and we saw huge improvement immediately the following day when mum’s yellowness reduced. Her complexion improved tremendously over the following two weeks and we breathed a sigh of relief. But we all knew our relief was only temporary as the matter was not concluded until we received her biopsy report. I got her final report on Boxing Day and sadly, it did not bear good news.
The report read:
Highly suspicious of a cholangiocarcinoma
We were given two options. One was for mum to go for a complicated operation called Whipple’s procedure to remove the tumour in her bile duct together with the gallbladder, head of the pancreas and a part of the small intestine. The second option was to take a passive role, ignore the possible bile duct cancer and just change the plastic stent to a palliative metal stent.
The gastroenterologist, Dr Neren emphasised that mum’s decision was to be respected. After explaining to her, mum was really set on not to go under the knife but to choose the second option. She did not waver even after seeking second opinion where she was encouraged to go for the surgery. We were torn as we had to respect her decision while at the same time, we simply did not know which option to go for as we had heard many stories, both good and bad of either option.
We were given one week to decide but I did not know why I did not push mum when the deadline was up. Now in hindsight, I believe it was God’s divine guidance. On the 10th day, mum changed her mind and agreed to go for the surgery. Things were set into motion quickly and we were referred to see the only surgeon in our city who performs such procedure at a private hospital. After seeing Dr Sharifudin, mum was admitted the following day and the surgery was performed the morning after on 10 January 2018.
Seven long hours later, mum came out of the operating theatre and was admitted to the ICU for observation overnight. She was moved to the ward the following day and stayed there for a week before she was discharged. She recovered in an amazing speed and her surgical wound healed well even when she was still warded, and Dr Sharifudin was very satisfied with her progress.
The pathology report came back and confirmed that there was cancer, not cholangiocarcinoma/bile duct cancer as first suspected but pancreatic adenocarcinoma, i.e. pancreatic cancer! The site of the tumour was at the head of the pancreas. The best news was, all was removed with clear surgical margin and the surrounding lymph nodes were also clear.
When mum’s biopsy report first came out, we all went through the emotional roller coaster ride from mum’s initial denial, our tender emotions whenever we thought of losing mum slowly to cancer within months to her final firm decision to proceed with the surgery etc., I could only say that we went through it all without any hysteria all by God’s grace and mercy, and His peace upon us that surpasses all understanding.
The love and care shown to us by our friends and relatives by words of encouragement and especially unceasing prayers rendered during and after mum’s major surgery comforted us immensely, and carried us through this most trying time.
We gave thanks to God for He reigned over the operation and watched over mum and granted her incredible speedy recovery. Doctors treat, but Jesus heals! Our family survived the ordeal simply because our God is a good and faithful God, and He kept watch over all of us.
Had I still had my job, would I have been able to take all the time I needed to wait for mum to come out from the operating theatre, relieve my dad or brother to stay with mum while she was warded or accompany her to and at the hospital pre and post-procedure and surgery?
Had I still had my job, would I have been able to have the undivided attention and undisturbed peace to provide physical and mental support to my family?
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
A day after mum was discharged from the hospital, I had a Skype interview and was offered a job to manage a 4-star hotel.
The potential employer graciously gave me the time to postpone the said interview not just once but twice due to mum’s surgery after our initial phone conversation. In fact, I almost killed the chance of allowing the whole matter to proceed further as I was seriously contemplating to turn down the Skype interview altogether when the pressure of mum’s surgery was taking a toll on me but I was stopped by wise counsel. Thank God for friends with foresight!
The new job will involve me being uprooted to Kuala Lumpur but out of everyone in my family, my mum was the first to encourage me to go for it and spread my wings. With the Lord’s guidance, I accepted the job after taking a trip to KL to have a look at the property.
Where we go from here…
It is still a long journey ahead where mum’s health is concerned. In a couple of days, we will seek the opinion of the oncologist on further actions as advised by both the specialist and the surgeon. We are prepared for mum to go for chemotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence of the aggressive pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
At the moment, mum rests at home and tries to put the weight she has lost back on. My dad and brother look after her while my sister and the kids, and I visit her often. She is in good spirit, strong, grateful and in God’s good hand!
As for me, I will get on with my packing very soon and make the most of the time I have left in KK before I leave on 27 Feb to turn over a new leaf and start a new season of my life!
6 Praise be to the Lord,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.