More comfy this way

Housewife Goh Joo Luan jests that if her husband Foo Khee How stopped loving her because she now has no breasts, she would "kick him off".

Told of his wife's remark, Mr Foo, a retired general manager of a publishing firm, laughs heartily and says: "Her life is more important than her breasts. To want her to keep her breasts - if that means she has to suffer from the side effects of chemotherapy as part of the procedure - that's selfish thinking."

Madam Goh, 57, had a cancerous cyst removed from her left breast in 2004.

Four years later, "high grade" cancerous cysts were found again, this time in both breasts.

In 2008, when she chose to go under general anaesthesia for the biopsy and tissue removal, she instructed the doctors to remove both her breasts if they found cancer cells in them.

"I signed all the necessary papers allowing them to do the surgery and take my tissues for study. When I woke up, they were both gone."

As for consulting her husband, she says: "I just told him, 'I'm going to remove my breasts. Are you okay with it?'"

Cost was not an issue for breast reconstruction. Madam Goh says she did not want "something artificial inside".

The most vital thing about complete breast removal without reconstruction is self-acceptance.

Says Madam Goh, a mother of two adult children and a grandmother of two: "If I lose them, I lose them. I see myself for who I am, not for the external beauty. So does my husband."

Does her husband find himself reassuring her of his love more often?

Mr Foo, 64, says: "I am not a person who expresses love in words. I show it in my actions."

He would drive home from his office in Clementi to their executive apartment in Bukit Panjang every day to have lunch with her. And during the period when she was undergoing treatment and recovering, he would make her warm water chestnut drinks, stock the refrigerator with "cooling" foods such as chin chow and young coconut and ensure that she had lots of fruit.

What has served Madam Goh well post-mastectomy is a healthy self-image coupled with a sense of humour.

She says: "At my age, who bothers? I am flat, I am comfortable and I save money from not buying brassieres."

"At this age, who bothers? I am flat, I am comfortable and I save money from not buying brassieres."


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