New baby, new hope for mum who lost child to cancer

SINGAPORE - Two years ago, Madam Cynthia Lim lost her daughter Charmaine to childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

In 2013, she remarried - after splitting with Charmaine's dad years ago - and welcomed a new baby into her life.

Little Mia turned a month old in December last year.

The 33-year-old housewife is brimming with joy as she talks about the little bundle at the apartment she shares with her new husband, IT manager Patrick Kittle, 37.

These days, her mind is mostly on the newborn - whose eyes are the colour of slate - but she still feels the loss of Charmaine.

Charmaine was just four years old when she was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

Neuroblastoma usually arises in the adrenal glands or in the nervous system related to the adrenal glands.

Her story, which was published in The New Paper three years ago, touched many Singaporeans, who raised half-a-million dollars within three weeks for Charmaine to seek treatment in the US.

But Charmaine later developed resistance to the treatment administered at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and lost the battle in October 2011.

TNP also chronicled Charmaine's last days and the ensuing funeral, which saw a massive outpouring of compassion from Singaporeans, thousands of whom went to her funeral.

'Overwhelming emotions'

'Overwhelming emotions'

Madam Lim said that although it has been more than two years since her daughter's death, reflecting on Charmaine's belongings brings back old feelings.

"I'm okay with things that I see every day, such as a photo of her which has been hanging in the living room for a long time.

"But looking at her clothes and toys still trigger overwhelming emotions," she said.

Battling a month of morning sickness also reminded her of the pain that Charmaine had to go through.

"Even when I was very unwell during this pregnancy, I never felt like I had the right to complain, because Charmaine never did," she added.

Talking to her newborn daughter also reminds her of Charmaine's absence.

"I will tell her she has a brother and a sister, and then I will think about how Charmaine would have really wanted to be here to play with her," she said.


Madam Lim, who also has a nine-year-old son, Jase, from her previous marriage, is working on setting up a cancer website focusing on treatment options in Singapore, but she has run into roadblocks.

"There was someone who offered to help me out with the technical side of setting up a website, but I haven't really heard from him for a while, so there's been little progress," she lamented, adding that she still hopes the project will come to fruition.

For now, her new family is keeping her busy. She met her English husband at a local pub, and was attracted to the fact that he can cook.

She spoke candidly about Charmaine from the start of their relationship, she said.

"He's not very expressive by nature, but there were a few times where we went to see Charmaine (her niche), and he wept along with me, so I know he really cares," she said.

Mr Kittle declined to be interviewed.

Madam Lim is glad that Jase has a new daddy.

Said the cheerful and good-natured boy: "I'm very happy. Mia is so cute. I like my daddy. I can go cycling, golfing, swimming, to the gym, and to the jacuzzi with him."

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