She helps cancer patients in her free time

PHOTO: She helps cancer patients in her free time

Photo above: Ms Lian was among three nurses who were awarded the President's Award in President's Award for Nurses.

Her aunt was a nurse. As a child, she was impressed by how skilful and knowledgeable nurses were.

Miss Lian Siew Bee told The New Paper that when she was 11, her mother fainted at home.

"At that time, we didn't know what to do," she said. "We called our aunt, who lived just a few blocks away.

"We were all worried about what happened to my mother, but my aunt handled the situation very calmly.

"That incident inspired me to pursue nursing as a career, as nurses can handle difficult crisis situations."

The 42-year-old is now an advanced practice nurse who has been with Singapore General Hospital for 19 years, and her speciality is in caring for cancer patients.

One of the challenges in her work is responding to families who request to withhold a patient's cancer diagnosis.

She recalled one such difficult incident 10 years ago.

The patient, in her 60s, had advanced cancer of the womb. But the patient's daughter, who was in her 30s, didn't want her mother to be told of this diagnosis.

Delicate situation

Said Miss Lian: "I guess the daughter wanted to protect her mother. It was a delicate situation for us."

Miss Lian arranged for the mother and daughter to discuss their issues and sort out the difference in their perceptions.

She added: "Most families have their own issues. As nurses, we have to be patient and understanding."

With her passion for nursing and education, Miss Lian also teaches at Nanyang Polytechnic and the National University of Singapore.

In her free time, she volunteers toprovide care for cancer patients at their homes.

For Miss Lian, being a nurse has helped her care for her elderly parents better.

She said: "Sometimes, the skills we pick up at work can also be applied to our personal lives."

On winning the President's Award for Nurses, she said: "I feel very humbled and honoured."

This article was first published in The New Paper.