Cara, Singapore

All stories

The day 4 February 2017 marks my 6 months of being in remission from the day my oncologist declared me cancer free. 

I was diagnosed with Diffused Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) and received 6 cycles of RCHOP chemotherapy from Jan'16 to May'16. 

I believe that the biggest challenge for me was that I was figuring out how to be the caregiver to my sister who was already diagnosed with DLBCL 2 months before me. Having had to take care of my sister 3 years ago after her brain surgery and juggling with work at the same time were difficult times but by the grace of God we managed well and she fully recovered. 

In Oct '15, my sister was diagnosed with cancer again a week after our dad underwent heart bypass surgery; and while I was also managing multiple event/projects for work, I thought okay with proper planning and with my kind compassionate bosses lenient on me, I could be an efficient caregiver because I had the experience and I should be fine. I had to be fine.

But then I was diagnosed with cancer 2 months later while my sister was already undergoing chemotherapy. With the series of unfortunate health events happening in my family, all I could do was to stop for a moment and sigh to myself, because it meant more things for me to take care of.

I knew what was coming to me in the next 6 months of treatment because my sister was 2 cycles ahead of me, but to have to take care of myself at this level meant that I had no time for my sister. That was most difficult part: the shift from being the caregiver to being a cancer patient, which meant that I had to manage 2 chemotherapy schedules AND work at the same time.  I thought to myself, how was I going to have the energy to care for my sister if she needed my help? 

And if I may add on my girliness to the set of my real life concerns, the thought of losing my head of hair made me sad at first. I loved my voluminous thick hair. But I watched a buzzfeed video on girls going bald and felt empowered. I decided to own my coming baldness in the end by trying out every single hairstyle (mohawk, pixie with bangs, etc) I wanted before I was bald. And being able to know the time to shave my head and do it myself was also surprisingly liberating. I ended up really enjoying my baldness and going everywhere with my skinhead. 

They say that when the going gets tough, somehow life unfolds itself; and things actually turned out well after all. Chemotherapy wasn't as bad as we thought it would be (as compared to brain cancer recovery, because that was our reference), and by the grace of God, both my sister and I could function independently whenever we needed to. It taught me that if I don't take care of myself, I cannot take care of anyone else, and this forces me to learn to put myself first, as counter-intuitive as that can be for me in my situation. I truly believe that having a positive attitude on living the everyday life and having faith of a positive outcome is the key to happiness and life and getting through our tough times.

Reading other people's stories really helped me emotionally & psychologically before going into cancer treatment, so I really believe that every cancer story counts.