​Ms Yeo Kee Hwan has been a pillar of support in her mother’s journey with stage four lymphoma. Her resilience and positivity so inspired our staff that she nominated her for the Caregiver award. Here is her story.

"My mother began complaining of shortness of breath and shoulder pain in September last year. The doctors took an X-ray of her chest and sent her to the emergency department. I initially thought she had pneumonia or a pulled muscle which was causing the pain. We were horrified when the CT scan showed tumours near her lungs and liver.

She was diagnosed with stage four B-cell lymphoma. Amid the shock and confusion, the first hurdle was convincing my mother to accept treatment. She had relatives who had battled cancer, and after seeing the pain they went through as they struggled with treatment, she was scared and reluctant. With the help of the doctor, I was able to convince her that her disease was treatable and that she could stop the treatment at any time, if she wished.

The process was extremely difficult for her. She had to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy over six months, each lasting about five days. There were also regular check-ups in between. As I am the only child and my father is on dialysis for kidney failure, I became her primary caregiver.

Whenever she was hospitalised, I stayed with her in the ward and helped her with her needs, such as going to the toilet. I also kept records of her condition and medication for the healthcare team's reference.

It was worrying to see my mother's condition deteriorate, and she was eventually unable to carry out everyday tasks. Fluid built up in her lungs and legs, making it difficult for her to breathe and walk. She stopped being able to eat solid food and lost around 10kg. It was particularly frightening after the second round of chemotherapy when a tumour pressed onto her stomach, aggravating an ulcer and causing a bleed. She vomited blood and the doctors had to clip the vessel to stop the bleeding.

I remember the nurses wheeling her back into the room after inserting the clip in her stomach. The success of the procedure gave me hope. We were also relieved when the scan results came back to show that the tumour had shrunk. The swelling in her legs subsided too and walking became easier for her, which was heartening.

Today, my mum is slowly recovering. The tumours have disappeared. She can now walk longer distances and is eager to add more solid food to her diet. Looking back, I am grateful. I am lucky that as a student, I was able to be there for my mum all day. I am also thankful for the doctors and nurses who cared for her tirelessly.

I have learnt that the best thing we can do for a patient is to just be present. Being ill can be traumatic, so it is important to lend steadfast support without trying to replace the patient's experience with ours."

Kee Hwan received the Caregiver Award at the recent 2024 SingHealth Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Award. Read other inspiring stories here


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