As the days turn, my family – especially my father – readies for another battle with his liver cancer. This battle is in two ways different from the previous one: a) this is an attempt to rid of the enemy once-and-for-all; b) the battle will be done overseas in the country of the rising sun.
The green light has been given by my father’s doctor, Prof. dr. Ali Sulaiman PhD, FACG, a renowned Indonesian hepatologist, for my father to undergo the procedure. He has communicated with the team leader doctor in University of Tokyo Hospital who will operate on my father. The team consists of mostly the same doctors who have done the same procedure on my uncle – more on this below.
Our weapon of mass cancer cell destruction is surgical resection, where we try to completely remove the cancerous part of the liver. The utmost effort is put to remove the smallest amount possible of healthy liver cells and let nature do the rest of the healing. I may sound a bit optimistic, but I really am optimistic. Several friends and relatives – my uncle, my father’s second oldest brother, for instance – have undergone the same procedure successfully though with more severe conditions than my father’s. A friend of my father survived the procedure with only a third of his liver left intact. My aforementioned uncle also survived a nerve-racking 12 hours of surgery, also in Japan, in which the doctors removed a whopping 1.3 kgs of his cancerous liver cells just 3 weeks ago.
The battle plan is to send a team of two – my parents – to Tokyo, to meet the recon team already on the battle ground – my aforementioned uncle, my aunt, and one of their daughters. They will assemble at a colleague of my uncle’s home in Tokyo to prepare my father for the infiltration a.k.a medical procedure at the University of Tokyo Hospital.
The only hurdle for the upcoming battle is the logistics. First of all are the financial aspects of war:
- War funding. After all, Japan is notorious for its high living cost. My uncle told us that the medical costs are roughly the same in Indonesia – it is subsidized by the government –, but we should expect to cover significantly higher living costs. We managed to scrape some of our savings, so some of our worries should be relieved by the time my parents went to Tokyo. Several other less-liquid assets have also been readied.
- Fund transfer. I have made several inquiries to several friends about this – thanks Hafiah of a Japanese bank operating in Indonesia & Wendy of a large state-owned Indonesian bank, both are of course competitors of The Company, but information is the modern warfare, right? Anyway, none of those banks are online with their headquarter and branch offices, respectively, in Japan. So, direct-to-account transfer and direct-from-account debiting is totally out of the question. This hasn’t been decided yet, but I think the winner will be one of either cash remittance or credit card billing.
The second problem is the war theater and the compulsory fog-of-war:
- Distance. Tokyo is about 6 hours of direct flight from Jakarta. So, it’s not exactly a stone throw away, or cheap, to go there in such a short notice should sudden emergency arise. A two-way airfare from Jakarta to Tokyo is priced at around USD 750 pax. Two of those have been bought under my father’s and my mother’s name.
- Legalities. This involves visas and other immigration thingamabobs. My parents have applied for them today (03/26) and should get the results on Wednesday (03/28). They applied for all of us – my parents, my sister, and myself.
- Language. The Japanese are notorious also for their unwillingness to fully embrace the English language. This will be more difficult for my mother, who barely speaks English. Several books on learning the Japanese language have been acquired though I question their effectiveness. *grin*
- Domestic affairs. I have been designated as the domestic interim leader. My mother has given a long list of things. Basically, they are a list of bill payment schedule (arisan fee to Mrs. P, electricity bills, etc.), receivables schedule (receive monthly rent from Mr. Q, etc.), and a list of persons-in-charge (in case the juicer fails again call Mr. R, should there be an nuclear fallout, ask for Mr. S’ help, etc.).
Most of the battle preparations have been done. This is quite a feat, considering that the green light to go was given only about three days ago. Other things that haven’t quite settled yet will have to come into place later.
Ever the man of action, my father has set the departure date on April 1st, less than a week from now. No return date has been set. Let the battle begin and see how things will unfold. I just hope that everything will roll in our favor. Brace with me, my dear friends. My family needs your prayers more than ever before. Insha Allah.
UPDATE: Arifin, a long-time friend, who lives in Tokyo has expressed his intent to help my parents there with the communication problem. He has given me his cell phone number, which I will thankfully and gladly convey to my parents. Much thanks to you, my dear friend!