When Patsy Kam initially discovered a lump on her neck, the doctors first told her it was cancer, and then it was misdiagnosed as merely an enlarged lymph node. It was only in 2002, seven years later, that she finally learnt the lumps growing inside of her had a name – paragangliomas.
Like any other full-time working mother, Patsy had her hands full, juggling a career as a journalist and bringing up her three sons. Overnight, her world changed, as her life thereafter revolved around doctor visits and surgeries, including an episode on the operating table that has since placed her in the medical annals of vascular surgery in Malaysia.
In June this year, she published her book entitled “I am a Zebra! Making Sense of a Rare Disorder”, describing her 10-year journey with paras. In it, Patsy gives an honest account of her experiences with the disease as well as her musings while muddling her way through motherhood. Written in a casual tone, the book combines some of her articles which appeared in The Star newspaper along with easy-to-understand medical information. It also gives mention to the Pheo Paratroopers and how she attained “zebra status”!
Patsy undergoes screening every two years, and it was a recent development indicating a positive change in her condition that inspired her to share her story. Dedicated to her sons whom she fondly dubs her ‘Lamlets’, it is her fervent hope that they would never have to go through what she had to endure.
Meant for both medical and non-medical readers alike, she hopes that her book will create more awareness about pheos and paras, and spur research towards finding a cure.