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An Inspirational Mom

“Beneath her quiet and gentle demeanour, Mdm Chan was a person of great courage and resilience. Despite her discomfort from post-operative complications, she never grumbled about her situation and remained gracious towards the healthcare staff.”

Mdm Chan was someone who lived for others. She spent much of her life taking care of her loved ones.
The eldest of seven children, Mdm Chan spent her youth looking after her younger siblings. She cooked and cleaned for them as a mother would, and so they grew up with much respect for her. After Mdm Chan got married and had children, she stayed home to care for them full-time. She was always there, always present for her children. And when her husband had a stroke in 2015, he had to stop work and she became his sole caregiver.

Mdm Chan was very protective of her children when they were growing up. She was traditional and conservative, and she showed her tough love in her own ways. When one of her children turned 21 and wanted to travel with a group of friends, Mdm Chan insisted very strongly on coming along because she was worried about safety in a foreign land.

Even when her children have gotten married, she continued to care for them. She would buy the best cuts of meat and fish to cook everyone’s favourite dishes whenever they came over for meals. When the weather was erratic, she would prepare cooling herbal teas or when they were tired from work, she would make nourishing soups for them.

Mdm Chan derived great joy from spending time with her family. Her simple outings with her family such as shopping and eating together were highlights of the week. She doted on her grandchildren and could not bear to discipline them like how she used to discipline us. Her grandchildren love their Ah Ma as well. They would stay over at Mdm Chan’s place during the school holidays and she in return, she would always come back from marketing with toys for them and took them out for their favourite hotpot after their exams.

Mdm Chan was enjoying her golden years when in June 2020, she had difficulty in her bowel movements. She was immediately diagnosed with late colon cancer but took the news calmly. As a very private person, Mdm Chan did not tell her siblings and friends about her condition as she did not want to worry and trouble them. At one point, the doctor told her family that she had about a year to live. Even then, she took it in her stride and continued to live her life as normally as she could, taking care of her husband, doing her usual marketing and shopping, and spending as much time as she could with her family. She was never a big outdoor person, but after her diagnosis she enjoyed exploring parks and kite-flying with the grandchildren. Fortunately, she stayed in good health for a whole year and had time to make many treasured memories together with her family.

In October 2021, Mdm Chan’s condition eventually worsened and she had to be warded in the hospital. Although she was feeling unwell herself, she was still considerate towards the healthcare staff and other patients in her ward. She was always grateful and would make sure to thank the nurses and doctors for their help. The healthcare team had a good rapport with Mdm Chan - her oncology doctor from the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) visited her with flowers even after she was moved to the palliative care ward at Outram Community Hospital (OCH).

When she was at OCH, Mdm Chan took the initiative to plan her own funeral with the care team, with the help of Medical Social Worker, Sandy Koh who guided her family in the right directions. Mdm Chan believed that this would take the burden of planning and decision-making off her family’s shoulders. She wanted to keep the arrangements simple as she felt that it was more important for them to remember her in her prime. She told her family that it was a blessing that she could leave the world with no regrets and no burdens as she felt that her life was fulfilled and whole – her children had their own families, and everything was in place. She was confident that she could leave her husband in their good hands.

After Mdm Chan passed away, her children looked through their family photos together. What struck them the most was how happy she looked in those photos, surrounded by her family whom she loved with her whole heart.