How I started
It was in Oct 2005 when I attended the first NPC support group meeting at the National Cancer Centre of Singapore (NCCS). About 10 – 15 of us gathered. I was the only female. I just returned from my “retreat” in Penang, refreshed and ready to welcome a bright future. I introduced myself as a “new graduate”, as I completed my treatment on 1 Sep 2005, and could start eating a little more. The members shared their experience in coping with side effects of treatment, even after 2 years, 5 years, and even those more than 10 years. I was a bit disheartened. I thought I was ready to pick up myself for a new start. You mean, there are more to come, even after treatment? Nevertheless, I persevered with this group, somehow, with a desire to learn more.
The support group kick-start its program in Jan 2006. The topics were new to me, and often times, I was awed to know there was still so much suffering even after treatment. At times, I was disheartened. I could not imagine how to live on with so much of these side effects which were yet to come. Nevertheless, somehow, I persevered and looked forward to attending the talk every month.
What I learned
Gradually, I gathered my wisdom, conviction and judgment, besides gaining knowledge from the medical experts. Apart from the NPC talk, I attended workshops and sessions on alternative healing, and read up a lot, both in English and Chinese. I remember my statement at the first NPC meeting: Knowledge is Power. Until this day, I’m keen to learn and open to all natural healing methods.
As the years go by, I continue to attend every session of the NPC talk, despite repeating topics. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, as I hardly remember what the speaker says As long as I can retain 1% of the gist of the talk, I consider that as great achievement!
Survivors graduating from the support group
Over the years, I have seen survivors and caregivers benefitted from the NPC talks and other activities. They regained confidence and moved on in life. Some no longer turn up for NPC talks. Of course we miss them. But it’s OK. All of us have our own life to live. They will know where to get help when they need us. We learn to let go and wish them all the best. I know they will be all ready to lend a hand to those who need help out there somewhere. As I learned to let go, I move forward to serve with a bigger heart.
Growing and serving in the support group
Serving in the support group is a very natural thing for me. The friendship we cultivated is very true and sincere. We look forward to meeting one another at the monthly talk. This is not for the sake of good attendance. Seeing them and knowing that they are well brings us joy. When any of us encounter problem, we are ready to put our hands together to help. This is what the support group is for, and I’m very glad we live up to our mission statement that no one needs to walk their journey alone.
Patient visit enriches my life experience. I gain tremendously, in terms of the confidence I gathered through all these experience. I know how to deal with my own problems. In the midst of giving to others, the reward comes back in many folds. True joy is in bringing joy to others.
You don’t need to be a professional or hold credentials in order to serve. I don’t know much about medicine. I read up a lot, and dare to try things out. My body will tell me if it’s right for me or not. Sometimes I call myself a “street doctor”. There were times when I wondered – will I be of help to these people? I may not be able to offer any practical solution to their problems or relieve the physical pain they go through. The keyword is SINCERITY. To let patients know that we care for them and that we are there to give moral support is a great motivation for them to fight on.
All of us can contribute in our little ways. Your presence means HOPE to new patients and survivors. So, please continue to attend the NPC talks. It doesn’t matter who and what the speakers talk. Say hello to friends and give that smile or hug. Your day will be brightened up. I still remember a caregiver asked me if anyone survived from stage 4. Yes, the following week, two stage 4 survivors visited this family. You can also share with us useful information, products and tips on managing health or other aspects in daily living.
Unconditional Giving with Joy
Our members join us because they like our company and they want to learn new things. We have no freebies to give away. We are all volunteers. We don't have any sponsors and we don’t ask for sponsorship. All we have is SINCERITY. It’s unconditional giving with joy, and no obligation. With this in mind, it is important for us to do the right things, and do things right. Quality takes precedence over numbers. It does not matter if the group is small, as long as they feel the warmth and bonding. It is through years of consistent effort to keep in contact and caring for one another that we have come thus far. No single person can shoulder this responsibility. I always ask for help, and help is only a call away. It is indeed heartwarming to know that so many in the group are ready to help.
I’m very grateful to this group of “core” members who support our activities regularly and whom I can always count on when I need help. Even after they have graduated from treatment for some years, they are willing to offer their time and dedication to help new patients. They may not be the front runners, but their backend support is invaluable. It can be medical, social, IT, recipe, travel tips and anything under the sun. It broadens my knowledge and everyday is a new discovery.
Cancer has dealt a great blow to many of us. Make it worth the suffering, by gaining from this experience and sharing our experience with others. We wish all survivors will come forward to hand hold new patients, just like the way they have been helped. This will make for a beautiful world!
Contributed by: Lim Wai Cheng/NPC survivor
Dated 15 February 2011
Survivor since 2005
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