'I watched a patient die'

Ms Jessica Poh, 37, has seen her fair share of deaths in her line.

She has worked 17 years as a nurse manager in the oncology line, which is the study and treatment of cancer.

"It is not everybody's cup of tea. It can be depressing at times," she said.

While she says in her line of career, she's experienced countless memorable moments to date, one especially painful moment was when one of her patients passed away right in front of her.

"My colleagues and I decided to pay her a visit. Little did I know that, that was her very last few minutes on earth," she recounted.

Everybody was crying when they reached her room, including her colleagues. She said she wanted to console the dying woman's fiancé, but couldn't make a move as she knew that the moment she spoke, tears would start rolling.

"So in the end, I stood by her fiancé, and watched her slowly pass on," she said.

Weeks later, she remembers the woman's fiancé coming back to the clinic to thank them all for the care and support given. He gave each of them a fountain pen with the patient's name engraved on it as a remembrance.

To her, it's a calling

Florence Nightingale mentioned that nursing is an art, she said.

"If it is to be made an art , it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God 'spirit?" she quoted.

While to her, nursing is one of the finest of fine arts, it is more than that. It is a calling, she said.

She described nursing as a holistic, unique profession assigned to a special group of individuals who possess the ability to heal the heart, mind, soul of patients, families and sometimes, even of themselves.

When younger, she used to always choose to act out the role of a nurse during role play at school, and absorbed the words of teachers who taught them to always be kind and helpful to others.

It was during those formative years that her passion for nursing was born.

During her early teen years, she was always in and out of clinics and hospitals due to constant gastric pains.

"I saw how the nurses nursed the patients back to health, giving medications and drips.

"I was fascinated by them, and curious about them. I guess, curiosity kills the cat. That's how I ended in nursing," she said.

Not an easy road

Not an easy road

Although the oncology profession is a difficult calling, she says she would not have chosen any other route.

"Cancer is a potentially terminal disease, and it can hit anyone at any stage of life," she said, stressing that it can bring a person's spirits down.

"My most challenging moments are when I know that my patients' days are numbered. Making them and their loved ones accept things that cannot be changed is a real challenge," she said.

But it has its upsides too.

"Cancer patients and their loved ones walk through various emotional struggles. Being able to brave through those storms and raging seas makes me feel appreciative to what life brings to me," she shared.

Not only that, she said that seeing patients coming into the clinic cured, such as previously wheelchair-bound patients walking into the clinic, gives her a feeling of achievement.

"It is indescribable," she said.

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