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
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