Mother, 48, obtains diploma while fighting stage 4 cancer

Ms Evelyn Chua says her daughter Yixuan is her motivation to beat cancer.
PHOTO: Evelyn Chua

Even as she battled breast cancer and metastatic cancer that had spread to her spine and liver, Ms Evelyn Chua stayed focused and true to her pursuit of a diploma in business practice (business administration) from Temasek Polytechnic (TP).

The 48-year-old is one of TP's Continuing Education & Training graduates this year.

Ms Chua, who also has a diploma in business translation and interpretation skills from Nanyang Technological University's Confucius Institute, was first diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2015.

Despite the initial shock, the mother of an eight-year-old girl stayed positive.

She underwent a surgery to remove the lump, and received chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment until 2017 when her cancer went into remission.

Ms Chua, who works at the Ministry of Home Affairs as a crime registry officer, was encouraged by her employer to take up a part-time diploma to de-stress, as well as upgrade her skills.

However, last August, a year into her course at TP, Ms Chua suffered a relapse and was told she had stage 4 metastatic cancer that had spread to her spine and liver.

"I told myself, 'it is already a fact' and took it positively. I thought the best thing for me was to (focus on recovery)."

She started on 15 radiotherapy sessions followed by chemotherapy once every three weeks, which forced her to reschedule some of her day classes to night-time.

"Physically, I (got) tired because the chemotherapy process kills off most of your cells, be it good or bad, and makes your body immune system low."

But with a positive mindset and her young daughter in mind, Ms Chua pressed on and completed her second diploma.

"In fact, I had more time to study because I was on hospitalisation leave from work," she said.

As her husband worked night shifts, Ms Chua took her daughter Cheng Yixuan along to most of her night classes.

"My daughter is the centre of my life, I want her to see my positivity and be able to face any setbacks."

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Ms Chua's efforts and the support from her lecturers and classmates, who shared notes with her, helped her obtain a diploma with merit this year. It is awarded to the top 10 per cent of a graduating cohort.

Ms Germaine Wang, a lecturer in diploma in marketing, recalled Ms Chua coming to class in a wheelchair.

Said Ms Wang: "Her zest for learning is truly amazing. She is a positive and cheerful lady who is an inspiration to everybody."

Ms Chua still undergoes chemotherapy and is focused on recovering.

She said: "My child is my strength to win the battle. I want to be with her as long as I can. But I am also prepared for the worst. If anything were to happen, I want to go with as little regret as possible. I want her to have happy memories with me."

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.