Female cancer fighters share their stories of strength for Women's Day
Cancer fighters share their stories of strength for International Women's Day
International Women's Day, which was celebrated yesterday, has always been a time to shine the spotlight on the achievements and sacrifices of women who have made a difference in the lives of others.
Like Ms Khor Ai Fen and Madam Musleha Mustaffa, two beneficiaries of HCA Hospice Care who are balancing family duties and striving for independence while suffering from life-limiting illnesses.
Ms Khor, a 41-year-old housewife and mother of two, thought she was just having a cough when she went to a polyclinic in February 2015.
Doctors there sent her for a CT scan after she complained of breathlessness.
A few days later, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.
Ms Khor told The New Paper: "I had just given birth to my second child and was feeling positive about life. Hearing the diagnosis came as a rude shock."
Chemotherapy hit her hard too and eventually, Ms Khor's injections were replaced with pills as part of targeted therapy suggested by her doctors.
In January 2016, she was referred to HCA, Singapore's largest home hospice service providing support to 3,600 patients annually, after deciding she wanted to be discharged from hospital and return home.
HCA's nurses made house visits and provided Ms Khor with counselling and art therapy.
The art therapy allowed her to open up and understand what she was going through from a different perspective.
She said: "The strength I have found can become the strength of others."
Madam Musleha, 60, who has suffered from late-stage breast cancer for more than 20 years, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer as well in 2018.
But even with her condition, Madam Musleha did not stop working to support her family.
She retired from her job as a cleaner only last year on the advice of a doctor.
She has been the primary caregiver for her nine-year-old granddaughter Erra, whom she cites as one of her greatest sources of strength.
She said: "Whenever I come back from radiotherapy, she will ask me what I want to eat and tell me to rest. She says she wants to be a nurse when she grows up so that she can take care of me."
HCA first visited Madam Musleha last November and she has since received weekly check-ups and counselling sessions at home.
Said Madam Musleha: "Sometimes we think too much, and I used to do that. I have learnt to focus on being strong."
Ms Angeline Wee, chief executive officer at HCA, said: "At HCA Hospice Care, it is with pride that many women serve on our workforce to look after our beneficiaries.
"Their contributions are invaluable to advancing the palliative cause."