(Part II) Life After Breast Cancer:
How Family Support Helped Overcome the Odds
The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.
In our four-part series celebrating the women who’ve emerged stronger after a battle with breast cancer, we speak to them to find out what’s their story and how they managed to overcome the odds.
8 years after her fight with breast cancer, Lily Chan opens up about her story.
Now in her 50s, Lily shares that she used to be so fixated with work that she neglected her health. Being the owner of a lady’s fashion boutique, she had to take care of her business that runs from Mondays to Sundays, which meant that she often worked long hours. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her world came crashing down. “Why me?”, she thought. Fortunately for Lily, she had the support of her loving husband and her family, who gave her much-needed strength in her darkest days.
Could you share with us about your cancer journey?
Lily: It was self-detection. I was in the shower one day when I felt a lump in my breast. I was very scared and immediately made an appointment at the hospital to get checked. Prior to this, I believed that I was still young and did not see the need to go for my annual breast screenings as I was so caught up with my own business. On hindsight, this was not the correct mindset as health should always be prioritised over work. After my checkup, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. I then underwent a surgery to remove the tumour, followed by intensive rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions.
How did your family give you support during this difficult period of time?
Lily: They stood by me and gave me a lot of encouragement. After my chemotherapy sessions, my hair started falling. My children decided to help me shave it off so I don’t have to witness tuft of hair slowly falling out, and lightened the atmosphere by joking that I was at Tekong.
At one point, I nearly wanted to give up but my husband cheered me on and told me that he had booked us tickets to Europe and would take me there once I’ve recovered. We visited Italy, Rome and Switzerland right after I finished my last chemotherapy session. I really appreciate what they have done for me and am thankful that I was never alone in this journey.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself through your cancer journey?
Lily: I’ve learnt to see things positively. When I was first diagnosed, I cooped myself up at home and moped around. I thought I was going to leave my family. Thankfully, I found strength and support through my family and BCF.
Lily and fellow breast cancer survivor, Siti Dzaleha
Do you have a message for other women?
Lily: Do your annual checkups. No matter what age you are, or how busy your lifestyle is, take the time out to go for mammograms because it can save your life. To those who are diagnosed with breast cancer, think positive. Overcoming breast cancer is possible, just stay strong and never give up hope.
Where are you now in your journey with breast cancer?
Lily: I am fully recovered now. I’m a lot more health conscious now and watch my consumption of sugar and salt. Before I had breast cancer, I completely neglected the importance of exercise. I’ve adopted a more active lifestyle after recovery and I now attend different activities organised by BCF, such as Zumba and yoga sessions.
How has your battle with breast cancer changed your life?
Lily:I have learnt that health is wealth and to take a step back to better appreciate life. In fact, after my diagnosis, my family persuaded me to wind up my business so I can better concentrate on my health. I’ve been a homemaker ever since, and I’ve never been happier. I now try to give back to BCF by teaching sewing classes and to bond with my pillars of support within the foundation. BCF is akin to my second home.
Lily’s pillar of support – her husband
Describe your relationship with Lily.
Lily’s husband: I am her husband. It might sound mushy but Lily is my life – I can’t live without her.
How did you give her strength while she was battling breast cancer?
Lily’s husband: Of course, I was shocked to hear the news, as she has always been strong and hustling in her business. It ached me to see her in pain so I stood by her and gave her a lot of encouragement. I want to tell her that I love her forever.
Do you have any tips and advice for the loved ones who have family/friends suffering from breast cancer?
Lily’s husband: Always think positively and stay strong.
Early detection can help save lives. PAZZION hopes to raise awareness about the importance of self-examination, annual breast cancer screenings and taking care of your own health.
Go pink in the month of October for the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign (1 – 31 Oct) - in collaboration with Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF), show your support when you purchase the specially designed Peony Bow Flats.
Priced at $79, this limited-edition pair will be available at all PAZZION stores in Singapore and online at bit.ly/PAZZIONxBCF. 30% of the nett proceeds will go to BCF to help fund their members’ activities.
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