I’m Alive Post-Transplant

I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated.

Truth is, this round of intensive chemotherapy plus stem cell transplant hit me a lot harder than I thought it would.  I mean, there were days where I could barely open my eyes and utter a word.  I was hardly processing any of my own thoughts, let alone trying to have a conversation with anyone through messages.

Physically and physiologically, it’s a given, my body went through hell.

Emotionally and psychologically, they took a beating too.  I think I hit my lowest point.

I cried lots this time.  Over the most unexpected things sometimes.  I even cried over oatmeal, which you can read about in the Hospital Diary post.  Tears were present the one morning when I was in so much pain I practically begged for morphine, tears came when I binge-watched 13 Reasons Why, and sometimes tears just came out of nowhere as I lay in bed struggling to sleep for nights.


But hey, moving on to some proper updates now.

Transplant’s done and after 39 days in the hospital, I’ve finally been discharged.  My legs were shaking out of joy and weakness when I finally walked out of the ward.

I feel like I’ve missed the entire lead up to Christmas and missed a big piece of closure for 2018, so imagine my joy when I saw this in the building lobby…


The road to recovery from a transplant is a long one of 12-18 months.  Spirits and hopes are up that it’s only upwards from here and that my chances of survival are increased significantly.  I got a lotta work to do #GotThis

For the first 100 days post-transplant, I’m technically still under isolation care, be it in the hospital or at home.  Because my immune system is pretty much as strong as a baby right now, possibly even more compromised because chemo wiped out healthy cells too, including all of the good gut flora.  It’s easier for me to catch any food-related illness.  I’ve been told that I am to avoid supermarkets, crowds, public transportation, eating out, pets, plants and overall be sensible about exposing myself.  That includes exposing myself to improper food handling, food-borne pathogens and unsuited cooking methods, hence why I was allowed luncheon meat yet not allowed fresh vegetables.  Visitors during this time are also to be screened and to be considerate about their own health before deciding to visit too.  A tiny sniffle at an early stage is sometimes the most contagious time and while it might not be anything to a healthy person, it can blow up into an infection, like pneumonia in a patient’s case.  So visitors with kids and pets just have to take extra precaution prior to visiting anyone who’s just had a stem cell transplant, liking showering and changing before visiting or bring a change of clean clothes.


There were cleaning protocols as well for home.  Particularly in Hong Kong, there’s the concern of mold and dust.   We had someone come in to do a major cleaning of every corner, drawer and surface.  Bought a bunch of cleaning supplies for daily wipedowns like cleaning shoes and backpacks with alcohol.  Vacummed mattresses, couch, clothes and closet and bleached whatever that could be bleached.  Not a bad way to start a little spring cleaning.

Food-wise, I had so many cravings when I was in the hospital and I went a lil’ crazy when I got home.  I think I’ve pretty much exhausted these whacked out taste buds.  Things are definitely tastier when imagined in my head than they actually are with my current taste buds.  There’s a constant after-taste and it feels like there’s always a coat of something yucky in my mouth.  So I’m either over seasoning anything I cook or I’m just reaching for the tastiest junk food around.  Nonetheless, I’m still keen on cooking something different every day.  I’ve been cooking a lotta western food (TACOS BABY!),  think I’ll start on some Chinese cooking soon.  Mmm “Dong Po Yuk”!


Activity-wise, I’ve been pacing around in the apartment, trying to rack up a minimum of 5000 steps a day.

I started doing some Yoga in the mornings via follow-along videos on FMTV!  What a brilliant gift, ST!

My body feels so deconditioned like it’s starting from -100.  I was on my back doing a strap-supported passive hamstring stretch and about 30 seconds in my leg was SHAKING like a salt-shaka.  That had NEVER happened before.  For reals tho, it’s like strength, balance, endurance and flexibility have all packed up and fucked off to another planet.

Also realizing I could use a non-slip Yoga mat ’cause Yoga is currently extra hard with a slippery floor.    Manduka mats are closed-cell hygiene-approved and cushiony, right? #YogaPeopleHelpPlease


Lastly, hair loss.  Now losing my hair the first time in April didn’t hit me as hard.  Sure, it took me about a month to really embrace that change but once it started growing back, the “ThugRose” look became convenient and I focused on training and nutrition instead.  This time, a lot more hair fell out leaving me 99% balder than in April last year.  So THIS is what I’d be rocking if I really fucked off up on a mountain somewhere to lead a monk life.  Do they let you wear beanies up there?  Baldness is COLD.

Screenshot 2019-01-16 at 2.03.36 PM.png

This time around, Imma have me some fun with wigs!  KB read my mind and sent me some from California for Christmas, that lovely human! I am so lucky!

Hong Kong though – Anyone knows of a donation centre for wigs?

Here’s the post of my Stem Cell Transplant Hospital Diary: https://emilylolatan.com/2019/01/16/stem-cell-transplant-ems-hospital-stay-diary/


My Fighting-Cancer-Fund Aid.  Thank you for supporting me and my quest to live on.

Published by Emily Lola Tan

I've been told that I'm tiny but tough, so I must have gotten SOME things right. On the inside, I feel like a mushy marshmellow who's a hopeless romantic and find corny cute. Writing "About Me" sections had evolved in the past x years of online profiles, currently, it sits at me still hungry for enlightening experiences and insightful traveling, particularly with human connections. My story at full length on the "About" page :) Thank you for poking around!

2 thoughts on “I’m Alive Post-Transplant

  1. Glad you’re on the road to recovery! <3 Manduka is good–get the tea tree oil mat spray to help with disinfecting as well!

  2. Em
    Yet again blown away by your words, strength, determination and sense of humour.
    Inspirational keeps flooding into my head.
    Since the early days, you were a force to be loved, no wonder I loved you so.. genuine in every way.
    As you embark on the next chapter I am with you and always thinking of you. I have no doubt that you will overcome and bounce back stronger.

    Ps I have seen something on wigs that look fab. Will see if I can find it.
    Love hugs and positive vibes blasting through this reply xxx

Leave a Reply