Mon, 2018-10-01

(Part III) Life After Breast Cancer:

Seeking Solace in Supportive Family Members

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.

Pika Sen led an active lifestyle prior to her breast cancer diagnosis. At age 43, she was diagnosed with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma, but fortunately had the support of her family. Her parents, who lived in Australia, selflessly put their lives on hold and moved to Singapore for 8 months to take care of Pika’s children, who were aged 8 and 13 at that time.

Could you share with us about your cancer journey?

Pika: I was teaching my daughter one evening after work. She brushed past my left breast when reaching past me to get an eraser. She felt the bump and asked, "Mummy, what's that?". I looked down and felt the lump and immediately a feeling of dread came over me. I was only 43 and wasn't due to start mammograms yet, but I went to my general practitioner (GP) the very next day.

What stage were you diagnosed with?

My GP sent me to get a mammogram and ultrasound on the very same day and wrote me a referral to a breast surgeon but the results were inconclusive. The breast surgeon sent me for an MRI. The results were still indeterminate. Since nobody could tell me what I knew in my heart to be true, I decided on a biopsy the same day the breast surgeon gave me the MRI results. I'm glad I moved fast. From feeling the lump to getting my biopsy results, this took around 2 weeks. I was diagnosed after my surgery with Stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma which had affected 2 lymph nodes. I then underwent a mastectomy and full axillary clearance with 24 nodes removed.

What was a motto you lived by while fighting cancer?

Just breathe. This, too, shall pass.

Pika and fellow breast cancer survivor, Amy Neary

In what way is support from your family special to you during this difficult period of time?

: My family was simply amazing. My husband and father took me to all my chemo and radiation appointments. My husband taught the children after work each day (they are homeschooled) and listened patiently when I shared my darkest fears. My mum cooked, stayed positive for everyone’s sake and took the children to their classes. My dad stayed by my side each day. My children tried their very best to study and continue with their music and sports classes even though they were used to Mummy taking them and supporting them.

What advice would you like to give women who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer?

Listen carefully to your doctors. Seek various opinions. Don't just choose the doctor who tells you what you want to hear. Choose someone who will help you navigate this complex disease with confidence, realism and hope. Look after yourself and seek help, don't be shy.

Where are you now in your journey with breast cancer?

I am now 10 months into my 10-year antihormonal treatment (daily tablets) for hormone positive breast cancer. I completed chemotherapy and radiation at the end of 2017 and am now in remission.

Share with us a special memory between you and your daughter.

There are so many precious memories from that time. I remember my children making cards, leaving me sweet notes, stroking my head when I was very ill with chemo and assuring me that I would recover and be their bossy tiger mummy again.


Pika’s pillar of support – her daughter, Ria

Describe your relationship with Pika.

I have a wonderful relationship with my mum!

What do you love about her?

She is very caring, thoughtful and most definitely the coolest mum ever! She helped me pursue my musical dreams and allowed me to homeschool so I could spend more time doing things I love.

How did you give her strength while she was battling breast cancer?

I helped my Grandma prepare food, wrote cards and notes to slip under Mummy's pillow, brought home flowers and kept reassuring her that she would be okay.

What do you want to tell/encourage her?

I want to tell her that I love her a lot and that her strength to battle through this tough time was unbelievable and I will always be inspired by it.

Do you have any tips and advice for the loved ones who have family/friends suffering from breast cancer?

Just keep calm and know there will be an end to this difficult time.

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
. 30% of the nett proceeds will go to BCF to help fund their members’ activities.




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