To commemorate World Cancer Day, observed globally on Feb. 4 every year, City News celebrates the lives of two brave cancer survivors, in the words of their loved ones.
Contributed by Cassandra Yeo & Yuan Wenling
|CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
Cassandra Yeo, daughter To Shirley Yeo
It was 10 years ago when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. While we were very concerned for her, we were not too badly affected by the news as the cancer was in its early stages. She went for an operation to remove the cyst, and while it spread a bit to the lymph nodes, it was overall a success.
It was a good thing that we had a helper at home so she didn’t need to worry about the household chores. During her treatment and recovery, our church family at City Harvest Church was incredibly supportive—the support, the prayers and concern they gave us showed that she had a very special place in the hearts of the pastors and members.
I must say that my mum is a very strong woman. She always says, if it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Yet, she never once doubted that she was going to get healed. She never made us feel sad or scared that she was not going to make it. If she was in pain, she didn’t let us know. Even if she did feel fearful for her future, she never showed it to us. Nevertheless, we were always there to reassure her.
Because of the cancer, she was able to retire early from her job as a primary school teacher. Today, she is a nursery supervisor, taking care of all the young children of our church staff—she’s very good with the babies!
If there was one thing she was very strict about when we were growing up, it was that we learned to play the piano—it was her dream when she was younger but she never got the chance to do so. Other than that, she was fully supportive of our passions; she allowed us to pursue anything we wanted, be it going for student exchange programs when we were younger or other interests. When my elder sister went overseas to pursue her Masters, she even accompanied her. She’s a very sacrificial and extremely strong-willed woman.
For me and my other two sisters, the experience ingrained in us the habit to consistently go for check-ups. It also taught us the importance of treasuring our loved ones. Never take them for granted. It’s a blessing for us that our mum was very strong in battling the disease, but there may be others who need more help—would we then be willing to put aside our other commitments to help them pull through?
|PHOTO COURTESY OF YUAN WENLING|
Yuan Wenling, friend to Theresa Tan
I first heard of Theresa as the editor of a prestigious lifestyle magazine and her work for the not-for-profit organization Woman Make A Difference. With these credentials under her belt, I was expecting her to be an eloquent, smart and witty superwoman. When I finally met her in June 2008, she turned out to be all that—and more. She was warm and very down-to-earth … someone who pays attention to the little details and makes people around her feel special. Despite her hectic lifestyle, she finds time to chauffeur her kids to and from their countless classes, to bake and cook at home; even to go on dates with her hubby.
I had the great privilege to start an online news portal with her in late 2008. Looking back, it has been an awesome experience working with her these past two and a half years. She never fails to inspire me with her knowledge and words of wisdom, and her quest for spiritual things is so contagious!
I first found out about her condition sometime in June 2010. Theresa texted me and said that there was a lump in her right breast and asked me to pray for her as she was going for a checkup the next day. I was taken aback, but I prayed for her immediately, telling her to keep me updated after her checkup. Unfortunately, she came back with bad news. The lump was malignant. She had to seek immediate consultation with several doctors to consider her options. My first response was to release her from her work commitments, as I knew that she was a workaholic. All I wanted her to do was to rest and win the battle against this disease.
Theresa stayed brave and weighed her options with a cool head. After days of consultation with various doctors, she was scheduled for an operation on June 25, 2010. She underwent a mastectomy and reconstruction. The operation lasted a grueling 13 hours. The next day, I visited her at the hospital. She gave me her best smile. Then and there, I was deeply touched by her strength and courage to put up a brave front despite having to lose one of her breasts. For any woman, this is perhaps the most challenging aspect of breast cancer recovery.
Over these two and a half years, I have grown to know her and have witnessed for myself the sacrificial love that she has for her husband and her three lovely children. Theresa is someone who has great zest for life. Despite her condition, she never once allowed me or anyone to feel sorry for her. She has proven herself to be who she always dreamed to be: someone who is able to impact and help another person through her condition.
To Theresa, you have done just that and you exceeded it beyond expectation! I, for one, can say with certainty that I have been deeply impacted by you. Through you, I have learned to cherish and live my life to the best that I know how, to use the gifts and talents God has placed in me. Continue to shine on Threez, like you always have. I will always be proud to be counted as your friend, colleague, and sister.
Log on to www.acleanbreast.wordpress.com to read about Theresa Tan’s experience.