The best had passed

My first job was with an MNC life insurance company. I was in the valuation team. Later on, I learned a little of the product team's tasks. I wondered, "You mean that's all there is to do with actuarial skill?"

My 2nd job was with a consulting firm and oh boy, it was when I learned that actuarial skill could be used in so many tasks/projects! I was involved in general insurance valuation, pension valuation, M&A business research and appraisal, design + establishment + maintenance of pension funds, stock option valuation, audit, establishing regulation, design stock option scheme, design insurance product etc.

More importantly, I was blessed for having worked with (yes, worked with; not worked for) a great boss. He was always ready for discussion and listened to all opinion. He believed in work-life balance (it was difficult for everyone) and respected each of us. He never demanded respect but we willing gave it to him. He never "warned" us not to slack nor did he demand long hours but we willingly try our hardest to do our very best (if bad boss ar, just do the minimum lor and wait to get another job haha) so that client would view, firstly, him and then, next, us favourably. It helped that he had good humour too :)

I learned a lot from him, not just technically and from business point of view, but also how to be a great team leader (without the usual aloof/I'm-your-boss-so-only-my-opinion-matters/hot-tempered/stingy/etc attitude).

So I was sad to learn that he had passed away recently. RIP David. Thank you very much. You will be deeply missed.

Light Up My Life

This song resonates with me as it somehow describes my love life :)
 


So many nights I'd sit by my window
Waiting for someone to sing me his song
So many dreams I kept deep inside me
Alone in the dark but now you've come along

And you light up my life
You give me hope to carry on
You light up my days and fill my nights with song

Rollin' at sea, adrift on the water
Could it be finally I'm turnin' for home?
Finally a chance to say "Hey, I love you"
Never again to be all alone

And you light up my life
You give me hope to carry on
You light up my days and fill my nights with song

'Cause you, you light up my life
You give me hope to carry on
You light up my days and fill my nights with song

It can't be wrong
When it feels so right
'Cause you.....you light up my life

Seremban Beef Noodle

One of the food dishes that Seremban is famous for is beef noodle and as expected there are several places that you could go.

The one that my grandfather, his children and grandchildren had/have frequented the most is Fatt Kee (stall no. 742) at the main market in town. I usually order their gravy version. Over the years, they had reduced the amount of ingredient and increased its price. Obviously not a popular move with customers.

For a much cleaner and comfortable place, I would recommend Quinn Seremban Beef Noodle at Kemayan Square. It's in a proper shop lot and air-conditioned, and so more expensive. To be honest, I don't find much difference between this and Fatt Kee's. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the owners are related.

One other shop, highly recommended by relatives, is King's Beef Noodle at Jalan Dr Krishnan. I understand that the owner is the patriach to the other two operators above. I've yet to try because, apparently, he operate on fewer days. Semi-retirement, I supposed.

My dad recently switched allegiance to a stall in a kopitiam in Temiang. Reason: cheaper and bigger portion, but I personally think it doesn't taste as good as the first 2 stall/shop I mentioned above.

Rebuffed

My father tried many times to call the primary hospital (where he had his surgery recently and follow-up for past 8+ years) to find out the procedure to get the kidney sample but only managed to get through twice and was put on hold until his phone nearly ran out of battery @@.

We thought the most appropriate specialist to talk to would be the urologist. My dad said that the next clinic day was Tue morning. On that day, upon his enquiry, the nurse at the registration desk told him that there was no more kidney sample since it had been 2 months after surgery. We were surprised because the oncologist with whom we sought second opinion with (Dr A) said that it should be kept for 7 years. So after some discussion, the nurse arranged for him to meet the pancreas specialist as a walk-in patient because, as it turned out, urologist's clinic hours were in the afternoon.

The pancreas specialist quite readily said it wasn't a problem to seek second opinion on the histology of the kidney sample but we had to speak with the urologist (as expected). He, however, was confident with the accuracy of the histology and agreed with his oncologist colleague's recommendation of starting chemotherapy as the next step.

We turned up in the afternoon, as walk-in patient, but urologist had no time to meet walk-in patients as there was major surgical operation conducted that day.

So we returned on Friday morning. The same nurse sort of reprimanded my dad for coming back with the same request despite her answer (that they didn't keep the kidney sample). We responded by saying that the pancreas specialist said it was possible. Since, once again, my dad was a walk-in patient (next appointment is in late Dec), she had to ask the urologist whether he could meet us later or not.

He refused to see us. According to the nurse, all they did was to input the medical report given by the pathology lab and never took the kidney sample. I then said that all we wanted to know was the procedure of getting the lab to send the sample to another hospital. I even emphasised that my dad had cancer and thus it was urgent. "You mean there is no one here who knows how we can get this done?", I asked. They (I presumed she was representing the urologist too) said that since the pancreas specialist was the one said it was possible to do so, we should ask that specific pancreas specialist.

Now, being a public hospital, we were never assigned specific specialists and I couldn't possibly remember all the names. To ask us to seek that specific pancreas specialist (whom already said we should, rightfully, ask the urologist) is an impossible task. We got nowhere with this and so we left.

In the end, we met a urologist (Dr B) at a private hospital. Showed him latest reports and scans that we had. Unfortunately, we didn't have scans taken by the primary hospital since public hospital does not automatically give you scans.

He too (consistent with a few other specialists, formally and informally) concluded that the 1st step, a very important one, was to get a second opinion on the histology of the kidney sample. He wanted to write a letter for us to bring to the primary hospital but we told him of our problems of trying that route. He then explained that while it was true that the kidney itself was not kept, the slides containing the sample should be kept for years.

Dr B then called the primary hospital's pathology dept to enquire how to get the slides. At this point, my dad and I separately thought, "Omg why didn't we think of that?". Hahaha. A form was faxed over (like an hour later), completed by both Dr B and my dad, and passed to us to hand in the next working day. Dr B wrote a letter too, in case we needed it. The slides would be ready for collection within 10 working days from submission time and the pathology dept would call us to collect it.

So the procedure turned out to be far easier than we thought. Although the primary hospital's nurse and urologist were correct in saying that they don't keep the kidney sample (it should had been the slides we asked for), they should see through to our intention (which we stated clearly) i.e. getting 2nd opinion. As a specialist friend said, the urologist (whom he labeled as an arrogant ass) should had just taken 5 minutes to talk with us and then give us instructions on how to get this 2nd opinion going.

Still searching

Since the false alarm, I am still looking for a tenant. In fact, I have asked my agent to lower down the rent as much as needed to secure a tenant especially since I've already missed half of my rental income in the last 14 months :(

Besides the rent, I'm also prepared to replace the old tv and mattress, and maybe get some small pieces of furniture if requested. However, I can't do that one thing that recent potential tenants complaint about: the highway. Mind you, there are trees and a field in between my condo's window and the highway and so the "noise" is not significant, something that my ex-housemate, Ban and my parents can attest to. Haiz.

It's truly a renters' market in Singapore :(

Differing

My dad did seek a second opinion from an oncologist and he, along with some other specialists that my sister spoke to, pointed at the histology as the first point of review. Although he was impressed with the recommended follow-ups, he was puzzled on why they guessed the primary site is the pancreas. His primary reasons are:

(1) My dad's kidney cyst (which turned out to be cancerous) was first detected 9 years ago and had been growing gradually. If it is true that the pancreas is the primary site of the cancer and that it then spread to the kidney, the cancerous pancreas would already had caused, among other effects, much pain earlier but even to today, my dad experiences no pain whatsoever.

(2) The gradual growth of the cyst with no other effects is consistent with kidney cancer.

Of course the primary oncologist relied on the pathologist's report to conclude that the cancer metastasised from somewhere else and the high tumour marker supports this. Hence, it's important to get another review of the kidney block. So the tricky bit is to be as nice as possible in requesting them to send the sample to another hospital and hoping that they wouldn't be offended.

Another recommendation is to dad to go for OGDS and colonoscopy to rule out stomach and colon cancer as one of them can turn out to be the primary site. This will be done in Seremban and at a price that's at least 50% cheaper!

Meanwhile, redo tumour marker tests once every 3 months to observe the trend.

It is quite possible, however, that all these will result in the same conclusion i.e. cancer in kidney metastasised from somewhere else and the primary site remains unknown. In that case, follow-up with the 3-monthly tumour marker tests, and look out for loss of appetite and weight. If elevated, go for the necessary scans. Chemo is an option, if my dad wants.

Listen to the skele

Skeleton nerve on spine