my journey to health and well being via exotic destinations

in which I react badly to radiotherapy & and start new acupuncture treatment


I’ve now been back a week and am easing back into my old routine. 45 minutes of yoga and meditation in the mornings, a daily visit to Prof Tee Tong Ang (more later, and then picking up on my mother’s war letters project. And doing lots of cooking for my recipe book!

5 spice tofu with  vermicelli noodles & baby pak choi

5 spice (home made natch) tofu with oyster and enoki mushrooms & baby pak choi

pak choi in the wok

pak choi in the wok

On arrival, as if on cue, far away from the comfort of the Marsden and the lovely Dr Miah, my leg turns scarlet on the radiotherapy burn and swells up like a balloon. It is excruciatingly painful when I get out of bed in the mornings or from sitting for any length of time – searing, shooting pains in the wound area. I take photos and send them to Aisha, consult Dr Fi and visit my GP here. A late reaction they say, but completely normal. I should NOT have read the Marsden notes, which goes on about cellulitis, DVTs and special lymphoedema clinics. However, the thought of another compression bandage when I go to Japan next week is distinctly worrying.

Swollen foot, showing off new pedicure (it's much worse now for the record!)

Swollen foot, showing off new pedicure (it’s much worse now for the record!)

I have made an appointment to see Professor Tee Tong Ang, recommended by the GP who spotted my sarcoma here, so someone to be trusted I reckon! Monday morning finds me on the 3rd floor of a seedy (by Singapore standards) shopping centre, which seems to specialise in finding work for Filipino maids, who sit forlornly, surrounded by suitcases and the ubiquitous plastic bags of the poor. The surgery, if you can call it that, is shop front papered with diagrams of the acupuncture points and case studies. There are a number of people of all ages and races waiting their turn.

Dr Ang is the leading light in E-acupuncture, developed originally in China, and which is based on the ECIWO system (the Embryo Containing the Information of the Whole Organism). As Prof Ang put it in a lecture to the UN: ‘the information of the entire organism is contained in embryo cells. By stimulating precise acupuncture points, it is possible to activate the growth factors, which ensure a proper cell differentiation and full development cycle. This makes it theoretically possible to repair damaged tissues and bones, re-establish normal biological cell processes including in tumours, regulate proper hormonal secretions, trigger body growth and balance body functions’.

My name is called and I am led into a cubicle by a smiling woman – his wife I learn later, who specialises in fertility and women’s problems. The whole back area is like a school dorm, with a series of curtained and partitioned consulting rooms. She sits me down and, showing me a diagram, explains that she will make a diagnosis by testing various areas of my ear, which correspond to my internal organs. She gives me a metal rod to hold and gently inserts a probe in my ear. She takes readings from my spleen, liver, heart, kidney, bones, small and large intestine, stomach, lungs while asking questions about my bowels, frequency of peeing, sleep etc. The probe buzzes alarmingly every now and again, and she mutters the readings while she notes them down.

Then I am ushered into the next-door booth where I first meet Dr Ang. He is a small and rather wizened figure, in his mid sixties but looks about 80, wearing a shabby white jacket, with a variety of biros stuck in the pocket – the very picture of the absent minded professor. I don’t have to undress, simply roll up my trousers, and while he talks to me he deftly and painlessly inserts a few needles into my legs. He tells me about the people he has cured of cancer, including his own lung cancer, but more interestingly a Fibrosarcoma (similar to mine) plus the extremely rare Ewing’s Sarcoma of a little Swiss girl who, I find out later, to be the daughter of a friend of cousin Christine, who was taken to hear Prof Ang when he addressed the UN! I then rest under a hot lamp for 10-15 minutes, when his wife comes in and wafts a hot moxa (Artemisia) stick around the needle points, which not only emits a fabulous warm feeling via the needles, but also a marijuana-type smell which is vaguely hypnotic.

my legs with my 11 needles in box formation round my wound

my legs with my 11 needles in box formation round my wound

Then, turn over, and he inserts a few more needles into my kidney area – only 3-4, and few more into my leg. He carefully counts the needles, and twiddles them (ouch!) when he does so. Once he miscounted and left one in ‘Oh, sometimes I talk too much – forget how many needles!’ He loves to talk about his patients, cancer, all the benefits of acupuncture and is obviously devoted to his art. Again, more moxa.

After my treatment, he runs me through the auricular diagnosis. He tells me that my spleen is very weak, as is my kidney and he recommends an intensive 9 day course in order to try and ‘awaken’ my body from its slumber and to get it to heal itself. He believes that the body has the power to do this, but we must send the messages to the brain – ‘like telephone’ – via the disturbance in the channels caused by the needles. By doing regular acupuncture the brain is constantly sending it healing messages to the body. At the end of the course, they will re-measure my ear readings to see how well I have responded and give me some ‘bitter’ Chinese medicine. Forewarned is forearmed as they say!

My pulse is so faint, he says, it is almost indiscernible (that’s why I use so little air while diving). It shows that, in combination with other attributes – pale face, love the sun, calm as opposed to fretful – I have a cold Yin, which can only be balanced by Heat Yang. This is counter to the Ayurvedic and Dr Deng diagnoses, but maybe I have changed! The good news is that the food list is modified, and I can now eat curry and chilli, prawns, durian (!) and sea cucumber, yum! On the cooling foods list are celery, aubergine, tomatoes, apple, pears, green tea, orange, frog, antelope horn and coconut. But the best news of all is ‘wine – a little’! Neutral foods include ‘edible’ bird’s nest, shark fin, jelly fish skin as well as more normal things like tofu, kiwi, sweet potato, carrots and kiwis. So every day I visit Dr Ang, and every day he inserts between 9-11 needles, front and back. Some days they generate huge electric shocks, which fizz through my body like lightening and even spark! That’s the kidneys, he says, ‘Sorreee, very sorreee, but is good, body waking up’. Tweaking the needles just before he removes them can also be painful; and sometimes one of the needles causes a deep pain while I am resting. ‘No pain, no gain’ he opines gaily. But I zone out and it recedes. All the while I can hear the consultations going on: bowel movements, urine flow, getting up in the night, heavy periods, and so on. A dancer is told firmly ‘Two hours too much, you should rest leg, even superwoman can be ill. Superman too’.

Already my leg is becoming less red, although it still swells up by the end of each day. There is a little gungy bit on the scar which I am watching: cleaning with Dettol and applying antiseptic cream – the result, perhaps, of too many layers of aqueous cream, which I have changed for a lighter cream on the local doc’s advice. We are being pretty quiet, only going out at the weekend, and I am only drinking a glass of wine at the weekends, so feeling pretty healthy. Ross bought me the king and queen of juicers here, as the magimix one delivers a disgusting pulpy mess, which is nigh on unpalatable. The Hurom slow juicer is easy to clean, rejecting the pulp out of one shute, while delivering pure juice from another.

Hurom juicer....

Hurom juicer….

Next post will be after our visit to Japan and the cherry trees of Kyoto.

shitake mushrooms steamed  over ginger and garlic,  stuffed with spicy tofu and sweet potato,  served with ponzu sauce

shitake mushrooms steamed over ginger and garlic, stuffed with spicy tofu and sweet potato, served with ponzu sauce



Author: vickyunwin

I am a writer and traveller. Our darling daughter Louise died on 2 March 2011, aged 21 ( and I started writing as therapy. We never know how long we have on this earth, so I live for every November 2013 I was diagnosed and operated on for a malignant soft tissue sarcoma in the calf, followed by 6.5 weeks of radiotherapy, so am embarking on a different kind of journey which you can follow here. I also have another site with my blueprint for health and well-being.

4 thoughts on “in which I react badly to radiotherapy & and start new acupuncture treatment

  1. I was actually thinking about having antelope horn for lunch today

  2. Do you know I couldn’t find it in the supermarket, though sea cucumbers are easy to get…shall I save you one?

  3. Very good news that food list has grown. Bon appetite !


  4. the best bit is ‘ wine – a little’. weekends only, one glass a day!

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