Woman with cancer skips treatment to support daughter, 8, in pageant

SINGAPORE - She diced with danger to see her daughter shine.

Ms Lily Foo has a rare form of cancer that requires chemotherapy. But when her daughter, Naomi, eight, took part in the Little Cinderella Singapore 2014 pageant last weekend at Downtown East, she chose to risk her health to support her.

Ms Foo, who was scheduled for chemotherapy sessions under the Gynaecological Cancer Centre at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital on April 4 and 5, skipped both treatments.

It was a dangerous thing to do as it will make the cancer cells stronger and make her fight harder, said a specialist. 

But Ms Foo, 31, a hair salon assistant, believes she did the right thing. She said: "My daughter is more important than my health.

"Even though my doctor was very angry and scolded me and said that skipping even one chemotherapy session is significant, I went ahead anyway.

"It's worth it, even if my condition worsens. I only have one daughter."

She added: "I know that I have to get better in order to be there for Naomi in the long run.

"So I was thinking positive thoughts the whole of the weekend.

"I just clung on to the fact that the heavens wouldn't be so unfair (as to make my condition worse just because I missed treatment to support my daughter).

"Naomi and I are very close. She definitely needed me there to support her."

Naomi, a Tampines North Primary School pupil, won the Little Miss category at the finals on Sunday.

But it came at a price.

Each cycle of chemotherapy includes eight sessions where one session is done at the same time each day for eight days straight.

Said Ms Foo: "I didn't want to start the fourth cycle on Friday because I knew that I would have to skip a few sessions so that would have meant that I would have to start the whole cycle again later.

"The price for skipping chemotherapy, I think, is that it gets very painful when you finally do it. After I resumed chemotherapy this week, it hurt so much I cried.

"I also suffer from blurred vision, sore throat and I feel exhausted all the time."

Ms Foo's resolve in wanting to cherish all the milestones in her daughter's life stems from the fact that she had two miscarriages in January and April last year.

Her most recent pregnancy in January this year was diagnosed as a complete molar pregnancy. 

Ms Foo was then told that her molar pregnancy had resulted in a rare form of cancer - choriocarcinoma - which, if left untreated, would spread to the rest of her body.

Ms Foo said Naomi is precious "because she was a gift that I wasn't expecting".

"In 2004, during a party, I got thrown into the pool and started bleeding."

Ms Foo was taken to a hospital where the doctors discovered she was pregnant.

"I didn't know it at that time, but I was already six weeks pregnant with Naomi. The doctors said her heartbeat was very strong. I decided to keep her."

ASKED HIM TO MARRY HER

Ms Foo, who had been with her boyfriend for six months when her pregnancy was discovered, then asked him to marry her.

She said that her mother had "lectured" her into proposing to her husband.

Naomi was born in May 2005. Ms Foo's father died three months later of intestinal cancer.

Her mother told her that Chinese custom dictates that she must marry within 100 days of her father's death, otherwise she would have to wait three years to do so.

"So I begged my boyfriend to marry me and we got married in November 2005.

"I couldn't imagine Naomi not having a father," she said. "I still hope to give birth in the future because I want Naomi to have a sibling. I will sacrifice a lot for her because I love her very much."

Ms Foo's best friend of 20 years, sales coordinator Yang Shuxian, was at the pageant to support Naomi.

Ms Yang, 31, who is seven months pregnant, said: "Lily is very stubborn. If she thinks that something is right, she'll just do it.

"When I found out she had cancer, I asked her why she was going ahead with Naomi's pageant when she was undergoing chemotherapy.

"I mean, normally people will just focus on their treatment. Who will have the mood to handle things like pageants?

"But Lily said she would make sacrifices for her daughter. She ended up not sleeping for many days just to make Naomi's costume and dress.

"When Naomi won, I told Lily that Naomi couldn't have done it without her."

This article was published on April 12 in The New Paper.

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