Mr Sean Chew has been a pillar of support in his wife’s journey with stage four colon cancer. His tenacity and dedication so inspired our staff that she nominated him for the Inspirational Caregiver Awards. Here is his story.


Karen and I got married in 2019 and received the keys to our new home in February 2021. Like most young newlyweds, we were looking forward to starting a family. 

However, shortly after we moved into our new home, Karen’s health started to worry us. She would wake up from severe pain in her lower back in the middle of the night. She also had bowel problems that would not go away. It got so bad that she also had trouble walking properly. 

Numerous visits to different general practitioners did not uncover any problems. All we were told was that she might have haemorrhoids. 

In August 2021, the frequency of Karen’s faecal incontinence was increasingly worrying and we went to the Emergency Department at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in desperation for an answer. The diagnosis was grimmer than we could have ever imagined—Karen was found to have stage four colon cancer. She was only 28 years old then. 

It has been close to two years since her diagnosis, and her cancer journey has been fraught with many ups and downs. Initially, we were very hopeful that she would be able to get her tumours removed through radiation therapy and the 16 rounds of chemotherapy she underwent, as they were shrinking fairly quickly.

However, her tumours have since stopped shrinking and surgery has become an increasingly distant hope that we cling on to. The tumours are stuck to multiple major organs and surgery would only be possible if the tumours shrink further. 

Karen also has a stoma wound that cannot heal properly due to her chemotherapy regime. I used to take her to SGH every three to four days to get her stoma wound cleaned and dressed by Sister Ong Choo Eng and her team. However, commuting to and from SGH on such a frequent basis has been taxing on Karen, so I decided to learn how to clean and dress her wound at home. Today, I only need to bring Karen to the hospital every two weeks to get her wound checked thoroughly. 

Sean is an avid gamer who loves playing games on his PlayStation.

A silver lining that has come out of this is how much more time we have been able to spend together. Before she fell ill, we were both focused on our careers and hardly found time for each other. Thankfully, we had bought insurance for Karen before her diagnosis, so I could quit my job to care for her single-mindedly without worrying about the bills. 

We still have hopes that Karen will be cured from her cancer one day. For now, I am very thankful for the time we get to spend together.

Mr Sean Chew received the Inspirational Caregiver Awards at the recent 2023 SingHealth Inspirational Patient & Caregiver Awards. Read other inspiring stories here.

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