It was Christmas Day and a public holiday so we went to the Accident & Emergency department at Gleneagles near our house. The doctor took my blood for a blood test. I hate needles, but he put a canula in my left hand, which is like a tube attached to a needle, and it didn't hurt as much after that.
Dr Iean told mum and dad that my red blood and platelet counts were "abnormally low". He said that my platelet count was 9. Platelets help your blood to clot. A normal count would be between 150 to 400. My red cells were also a little low, at 2.02. A normal reading would be between 3.90 to 5.30.
My neutrophils were 4, while a healthy person would have between 28 to 66. Mum later found out that neutrophils help to eat germs, and they should be 50 for me to go to crowded places like school or shopping malls. My lymphocytes totalled 94. We're only supposed to have between 25 to 50.
Mum and dad looked worried, and he did another blood test and this time my platelets were 8. He told mum and dad to brace themselves for something called leukaemia. He went on to explain a few things about the disease, saying that if it was leukaemia, that it would change our lives and I would probably skip a lot of school for a year or so because the treatment would take around 1 and a half years.
He then did something called a blood film test and said that I would need to stay in hospital for a few days. Mum packed my pyjamas, books, dvd player and dvds. She also fed the cats at home. It was about 8pm, and all I could think of was the movie that I was missing out on.
Because my platelet count was so low, I needed a platelet transfusion. I was put in a special room where a really nice nurse took care of me the whole night while I had 3 bags of platelets put in. They came from the National Blood Bank. The nurses said Dr Iean had asked for 6 bags but the bank could only send 3. It took 3 to 5 hours, I can't remember how long. She kept massaging the bags to avoid the platelets from clotting, she said. I was very bored, tired and sleepy. Mum tried to entertain me but I think I fell asleep.
Dad went home to pack some of his clothes and his uncle, Tok Jin, came to visit while I had the transfusion. Tok Jin said that everyone was at the cinema watching the movie right now -- aunty Shalya, and all my cousins. I was a bit upset, but mum said she would buy me the dvd.
Mum was up all night surfing and chatting on the Internet. She couldn't sleep. She made some new friends on the Internet whose kids also had leukaemia. And she was working too! She is a journalist and even though she didn't really feel like doing it, somehow she managed to file one story which was due in the next day. It would be her last story for several weeks, because she had to get me settled into the first few weeks of treatment.
Here is one useful site that talks about cancer and leukaemia: