Singapore athletes (from left) Sasha Christian (wakeboard), Michelle Sng (high jump) and Christopher Cheong (swimming) all lost loved ones to cancer. Through the stair-climbing activity yesterday, they were helping to raise awareness of adolescents and young adults who have cancer.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The months that followed her father's diagnosis of stage 4 colorectal cancer four years ago were tough for high jumper Michelle Sng as she struggled to cope with his being in and out of the hospital, never knowing how long more she had with him.

But having the support of her then-partner, who was also going through something similar helped her significantly.

And even though sharing about losing her father three years ago evokes painful memories, Sng feels compelled to talk about it in hopes that she can reach out to someone else who is going through the same thing.

The 32-year-old said: "Having to recall and talk about it is always difficult because I'm not sure if anybody can ever recover from going through that.

"I was very lucky that my then-partner was going through the same thing, so it made me realise that if other people are going through the same struggles as you, you don't feel so alone, so lost.

"It is different when a friend says I feel you, let me help you with anything, but when somebody else has been through it, that the empathy is just different."

She was speaking at an event organised by the National Cancer Centre Singapore to raise funds and awareness of adolescents and young adults who have cancer at OCBC Square yesterday.

Two other athletes - wakeboarder Sasha Christian and swimmer Christopher Cheong - were also at the event, part of GetActive! Singapore 2019. They also shared their experiences of losing family members to cancer.

The event attracted a throng of people, from members of the public to other Team Singapore athletes like the Singapore Slingers' Ng Hanbin, Desmond Oh and Delvin Goh, who showed their support.

Each participant got five to 10 minutes on stair-climbing machines and hit a total 344,744 steps by the end of the event.

Christian, who lost her father to metastatic lung cancer in 2015, was heartened by the crowd.

She said: "Just seeing the strength in the numbers, shows you that you're not alone. We are in this together... you're there because you're showing your support and I think that's really beautiful."