"I Never Imagined It Would Happen To Me"

"I Never Imagined It Would Happen To Me"

"I was holidaying in Korea in November 2013 when I noticed lumps in both breasts while in the shower. I mentioned it to my travel companion, a doctor, and she examined me.

She told me that the lumps were rather large, but advised me not to worry as they could just be fibroids. She suggested that I get them checked out when we got home.

Back in Singapore, I got an ultrasound and was told that the lump in my right breast was a benign fibroid, but the one in my left was not normal. A biopsy revealed it was cancerous. It was a Tuesday when I received the diagnosis, and I got a double mastectomy the following Thursday. It was that quick.

Sailing Through Chemotherapy

Thankfully, the cancer was in an early stage, and I started chemotherapy after the surgery.

It was then that the reality that I had breast cancer hit me, and I felt extremely down. I didn't want my sons, aged seven, eight and 10, to see me sick.

I'd also heard horror stories about chemotherapy and was worried that I would really suffer. When my nurse came to see me, I poured my heart out. This helped a lot, because after our talk, I felt more determined to beat the diseases and be strong for my boys.

I began chemotherapy on Boxing Day, 2013. I didn't tell my sons that I had cancer; I just told them that Mummy was ill and was being treated for it. I explained that my hair would probably fall out and I'd be weak. They took the news quite well.

In the end, chemotherapy turned out fine; the nausea was bearable.

I had chemo once every three weeks, and each treatment was followed by 10 days of nausea. From March this year, the chemo schedule changed to once a week for 12 weeks.

In June, I returned to work, and am now on a 10-year course of tamoxifen.

Life as Normal

During my treatment, I tried my hardest to look healthy. I dressed my best and wore makeup. My nurses at Singapore General Hospital were so supportive, telling me that I didn't look like someone undergoing chemo.

Now that the cancer has gone, I'll have breast reconstruction surgery in a couple of months.

When I was diagnosed, I did ask "Why me?". But the self-pity didn't last long. I was more worried about my sons growing up without a mother, so I had to be brave and fight.

I am very thankful that my cancer is in remission, but because my lymph nodes were removed and I lost some feeling in my left arm, I still need physical therapy.

As part of my healing, I made sure to keep to my normal routines. I couldn't work, but I still had dinner with my friends and went to the movies. You wouldn't have thought I had cancer or was undergoing chemo.

Message of Empowerment

I was the first woman in my family to get breast cancer, so it's not true that if the disease doesn't run in your family, you're safe. I did all the 'right' things too - I breastfed, I never smoked, I'm not a drinker, I keep healthy. Who knows how I got it? I'm just glad I detected it when I did.

Breast cancer is a silent killer. It could have spread and I could have died from it. So, don't take your health for granted - get yourself checked if you notice any changes."

Her message to Breast Cancer Sufferers

"It's really important to be positive. Discuss the illness with your doctor. Ask questions, do research, talk to other breast cancer patients, join an online support group or forum. The more you know about breast cancer, the less scary it will seem. Live as normal a life as possible. Focus on your life after the treatment - think about everything you'll do after it's over, and look forward to getting back to your old self."

Also check out the October 2014 issue for these stories:

a) 10 Ways to Reinvent Your Hair Get a new do every day with braids, waves and hairspray. BY SIMONE WU

b) Top Shops Shopaholics, unite – we’ve rounded up the most fabulous new stores to check out. Plus, one-of-a-kind beauty salons for major pampering after all that shopping. BY MELISSA CHANG, ANGELA CHU & ANNIE TAN

c) Come Fly with Me Your kids will be so thrilled about showing off this hot-air balloon costume at Halloween that they’ll want a hand in making it too. BY MELISSA CHANG

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