Mdm Hor Khoon was planning to retire from her job as a systems operation manager when she turned 62 in a few months’ time. However, an unexpected cancer diagnosis changed her plans.
In May 2016, Mdm Hor felt a lump in her right breast. She sought a doctor’s consultation immediately on the same day. Three weeks later, results from a biopsy showed that she had stage two to three breast cancer. A tumour on her right breast had grown to 3cm large and the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes on her right arm.
Mdm Hor was shocked by the diagnosis but she kept calm. After discussing the treatment options with the doctor, she decided to seek a second opinion and saw a medical oncologist at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) in June. Due to the aggressive nature of her cancer, her medical oncologist recommended her to go for chemotherapy and targeted therapy as soon as possible to stop the cancer from growing, before it can be safely removed through surgery.
Mdm Hor started her treatments in July. Within three months, she lost 10 kg. “I experienced all the side effects that were mentioned in the treatment brochure, like vomiting, bloatedness, diarrhea, nausea,” said Mdm Hor. During this time, she quarantined herself in her room until she felt well enough to go out.
After completing her chemotherapy and targeted therapy, Mdm Hor went for a surgery in January 2017 to have her right breast and lymph nodes in her right arm removed. Thereafter, she went on to complete radiotherapy and a further nine months of targeted therapy.
Despite the challenges, she braved her cancer treatments because of a promise she made to her father. “I assured him that I will fight cancer and celebrate his 100th birthday with him. He is now 102,” she said proudly.
Mdm Hor managed to cover some of her medical bills through her savings and health insurance. Her company had also advised her to defer her retirement so they could help pay some of the costs through their insurance coverage for staff. Mdm Hor was well enough to return to work in March 2017. She completed her treatment in September that year.
After her experience with cancer, Mdm Hor wanted to help other patients. In 2019, she was invited by WINGS, a non-profit organisation that aims to empower women, to talk about her cancer experience at a sharing session.
Mdm Hor retired this year and leads an active life by meeting friends, playing mah-jong, and going for line dance two to three times a week. As volunteering activities have been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, she looks forward to returning to NCCS to serve cancer patients when social distancing measures loosens. “I received a lot of support and encouragement from my family and friends, and I hope I can provide the same support to those in need,” she said.
She advises cancer patients to brave on and not give up hope, even when treatment is tough and medical fees are heavy. “You may be at the bottom of the valley, but you won’t stay there forever,” she said.
Mdm Hor conquered the Great Wall in Sep 2018, a year after completing cancer treatment.
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