National athletes stepping up in the fight against cancer
National athletes recall loved ones' battles against the disease and share words of encouragement
Watching her late father battle stage four colorectal cancer was a heart-wrenching experience for national high jumper Michelle Sng.
But Sng, whose dad died in April 2015 - four months after the diagnosis, also emerged from the ordeal with the belief that patients' loved ones don't have to be alone in the battle against the disease.
"You see athletes as tough people who are always strong but behind all that, we're just human," she said.
"For anyone who is going through cancer (or their loved ones), stay strong but you don't always have to be strong. There are people who are there for you and you are not alone."
Sng, 32, was speaking at an event to raise awareness for adolescent and young adult cancer organised by National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) at OCBC Square yesterday.
Sng, who won Singapore's first high-jump gold in 52 years at the 2017 SEA Games, felt compelled to become an ambassador after losing her father.
"My parents were separated for 10 years and it was only a month before the news (that he had four months left) that they had spoken," she added.
"In a way, I'm very thankful that I had the last couple of months of his life together with him.
"I think having to recall and talk about it is always quite difficult… but when you realise that other people are going through the same struggles as you, you won't feel so alone."
Other ambassadors at yesterday's event, which is part of GetActive! Singapore's slew of week-long activities, included national wakeboarder Sasha Christian and swimmer Christopher Cheong.
Along with other Singapore athletes, members of the public, NCCS staff, cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers, the trio helped to contribute a total of 344,744 steps on stepper machines, leaving an entry in the Singapore Book of Records.
Sng, who is preparing for her title defence at this year's SEA Games, has also raised awareness for the cause at annual event Run for Hope since 2015.
Swimmer Cheong, 22, also took part in this year's run in memory of his late grandfather who died in 2013 after a battle with stage three lung cancer.
Cheong recalled his grandfather's year-long fight with the disease as a physically and emotionally draining journey for his family.
"We raise awareness to build a front against cancer and it's about community," he said. "It's not something you need to fight alone, there are people around you that you can call on as well.
"And as much as the message is for the (patients and survivors), there should also be focus on the caregivers to take one step at a time and cherish the time you have left with your loved ones."
National wakeboarder Sasha Christian, 26, also highlighted the need for a positive outlook. She lost her father to stage four lung cancer five years ago.
Her family rallied together to "embrace the days left" and she vividly remembers her father watching her at the 2014 Singapore National Waterski and Wakeboard Championships during his last six months, which was the first time in eight years he had seen her compete.
She said: "When you look at it from that perspective, it's like you're given six months, rather than you have only six months left."