This Singaporean mum had cancer during pregnancy. She had to make a really difficult choice...
“It was the year 2011, I was exactly 26 years old then. It was my second pregnancy.”
“I began to get plagued by frequent and painful backaches from week 9 onwards. I went to KK Hospital (KKH) several times to seek a remedy, but the gynaecologist said it was a common pregnancy ache.
It got so bad that I was on 8 Panadols and 6 Codeines, and it still felt useless. I was losing sleep. This dragged on for exactly 1 month.
Then one day, my legs started feeling numb. My GP immediately referred me to KKH. From KKH I was straightaway transferred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s (TTSH) neurological department. Within a night in TTSH, my legs went totally numb.”
Cancer during pregnancy
“The next morning at 5 am, I was immediately sent for an MRI Scan. The scan revealed a tumour in my spinal cord. Apparently, it was compressing my nerve, the reason I was losing sensation in my legs.
The tumour had to be removed to relieve the compression. And it had to be done within 3 days. Any delay would lead to me being permanently disabled for the rest of my life.
I remember being wheeled into the operating theatre for a 4 hour operation. My biopsy test confirmed ‘Diffused Large B Cell Lymphoma’ (DLBCL). I was sent to Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) National Cancer Centre, for cancer treatment.”
Terminating the pregnancy
“DLBCL being very aggressive, the best option for treatment was chemotherapy. Doctors advised me that continuing my pregnancy was not a good idea. The chemotherapy would prevent folic acid from getting delivered to the foetus, hence aborting my baby was the best choice.
I needed to be alive for my 2-year-old daughter. My husband was very worried. He told me that we could always try for a baby again. He took the responsibility of taking care of my 2-year-old girl at that time.
Juggling with a new job, he was constantly in the hospital, accompanying me, and making sure I was eating. He shuffled between home and hospital to take care of me and my daughter.
I had to terminate my pregnancy so that they could administer the full dose of chemotherapy for my wellbeing. Doctors said I would be fine after 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 6 inpatient and 6 outpatient.
I was literally in the hospital for 4 whole months. Lumbar Puncture was administered, so that the chemo could go directly into my spinal cord and target the cancer cells.”
“Today, I have no regrets. I think it was the best decision I could have made at that point of time.
I have been going back to my oncologist for regular follow ups. However, I must confess, I still indulge in good food. It makes me happy!”
Advice to other mummies
“I want to say that cancer is not a death sentence. It is still possible to live a very fruitful life. I have survived for 5 years, and I even went on to have another baby!
Always be positive and happy. We are blessed that the Singapore medical system is one of the best in the world!
I would also like to emphasise how important it is to get insurance when you are young and healthy. I spent $100,000 on my bills and I was fully covered. During my hospital stays, I had cash benefits paid per day too. If I didn’t have a good insurance plan, I would be worrying about my medical bills even after I had recovered!”
This experience was shared by mum Andrea Lim, 32, who works as a financial Consultant with Prudential. Her husband Dylan Yeap works in IT Sales. Today they are proud parents of two children, aged 7 and 1. Here’s wishing this family good health and happiness.
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