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Stella's Stellar Story

For many people, caring for others is something you do when you can. For others, caring for others is only possible if they can first care for themselves. For a select few caring for others is a fundamental part of daily life.  
Introducing Senior Nurse Clinician Ms Stella Goh, Winner of the Nurses Merit Award 2019. The Award is given by the Ministry of Health to nurses who have demonstrated consistent and outstanding performance for the past three years, participated in professional development, and have made contributions to promote the nursing profession. Stella works in the National Cancer Centre Singapore as a Senior Nurse Clinician with the Division of Supportive and Palliative Care. 

From left: Dr Paticia Neo, Head, Division of Supportive and Palliative Care; Ms Lian Siew Bee, Director, Nursing; SNC Stella Goh; Professor William Hwang, Medical Director, NCCS
Stella was nominated for the award because of her dedication to serve others.  Whether it is reducing pain and symptoms of patients, or even helping to make the difficult prospect of end-of-life less daunting, Stella has done it all. In one encounter, a patient expressed his wish for one last dinner with his wife. Stella and her team of nurses arranged a candlelit dinner of chicken rice from his favourite stall. The patient wore his wedding suit and enjoyed sharing his favourite meal with his wife. He passed on peacefully the next day with a smile on his face. “It was one of the sweetest memories, birthed from our small team effort”, recounted Stella.

While making life meaningful sounds like an intensely positive and heartwarming experience, these arrangements require a lot of behind the scenes work as nurses and families race against time to help the patient fulfil some special last wishes - such as choosing to pass on within the comfort of home or reconciling with estranged family members to heal old wounds. 

Despite the physical toll and emotional challenge of her job, Stella finds ways to relax and unwind. She loves going out with her kids and spending time enjoying their innocent company and energy. Outside work, Stella enjoys quiet pursuits such as making hand bouquets, wedding corsages and floral arrangements. She also loves social media, explaining that enjoys reflecting on joyous moments that her loved ones post on social media and enjoys videos that teach life-hacks or recipes.

When asked if there was anything that she wishes that she could do better, her answer reflected her tireless drive to help her patients. “Maybe learning some massage techniques or basic physiotherapy to help with symptom management for my patients,” says Stella. Death is a difficult thing to talk about, but it is a natural part of life. Despite a significant proportion of Stella’s work being involved with helping others who are facing the end of life, Stella manages to stay motivated in a nursing career that has spanned 20 years. She explains that there’s something comforting about family members coming to terms with death and giving the patient permission to go. “What’s most meaningful to me is when I realise that I’ve done my very best for the patient and seeing them smile before they go”, Stella says. “It’s all I can ask for.”