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Today is TGFFF Friday – Thank God for Family, Friends & Favour Friday!
I’ve cut back on blogging and social media considerably as writing and publishing commitments start to pile up again in recent weeks.

But with so many good things happening, I need to pause to thank God:

1. Ben & I just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary! We picked our wedding date in between both our birthdays so there have been many rounds of celebrations. I thank God for Ben and his support both the eventful and mundane chapters of my life. As the saying goes, it has truly been through thick & thin, sick & sin.

2. Ben, Caleb and I recently went on an amazing vacation – our best vacation with Caleb since he was born (not that we took many vacations with him, to begin with). We spent a few days with another family whom we connected with on a deeper level and another few days on our own. It wasn’t exactly relaxing (How do you relax when you have a 6-year old energizer bunny?!) but it was meaningful for us as a family.

3. Towards the end of chemotherapy last year, my doctor found fluid accumulated around my heart, which may have come about from the drugs. Since then, they have been monitoring me with 6-weekly heart echoes over the last 10 months. Following my latest echo and doctor appointment yesterday, I thank God that my heart is all good and we can discontinue the 6-weekly heart checks. My doctor also stretched my medical appointments even further apart so I see lesser and lesser of him.

4. Over the past few weeks, I have started catching small glimpses of the new season before me – both in my personal life and writing life. I am encouraged and also challenged by some of the new opportunities ahead.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with song, I praise Him – Psalms 28:7

 

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This has been a nostalgic period where curtains have closed, torches have passed and some of us open new chapters in our lives.

Raffles Hotel, flagship of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, the company where I previous worked for a decade, recently closed for major refurbishment under its new owner.

Over 25 of us, including three of our former company’s past-presidents plus old-timers like myself, gathered for Someone’s birthday dinner-cum-reunion at Raffles Grill to bid our farewell to the grand old dame. It was an evening that harked back to my fine-dining days working in the hotel industry.

 

RafflesHotelReunion

I got the waiter to take a long shot from my end

 

After a decade of working and growing up with the Raffles hotel group, I symbolically (and quite literally) crossed the road (Victoria Street to be exact) to Central Library, my new haunt since I found my voice as an author. 

I went from corporate suit and lobster lunches at Raffles Hotel’s Empire Cafe to sandals and cheeseburger at Hanis Cafe at the Central Library building. And I have been perfectly happy with my change in diet.

In this 10th year as an author, I bid a second farewell, on the Book Council front. Mr Rama, head honcho of our Singapore Book Council for several decades (and Founder of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content) has just retired. 

As a passionate books advocate, Mr Rama has brought the industry forward by leaps and bounds. He has also been significant in kick starting my writing life, from the time I became a winner of the Book Council’s First Time Writers Publishing Initiative 10 years back. 

So, of course, we had to catch up over kopi. Actually, kopi-kosong for him and teh siu tai & mee siam for me.

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I also start a new page this month, after closing the chapter on 1 year’s cycle of antibodies infusion, on top of chemotherapy and breast cancer mastectomy & reconstructive surgery last year.

It’s a new chapter, a clean breast and a stronger stomach (flatter too…thanks to the stomach fat used for breast reconstruction). I am, figuratively speaking, a new creation in Christ! And I look forward to scribing new words with a higher purpose and heart impact.

And another kopi session with Mr Rama 😄.

Today marked the last of my antibodies cocktail of Herceptin and Pertuzameb. It’s been 18 three-weekly cycles of 90-minute infusions over the past 1 year. I checked off that final jab with Yakun toast and teh siu tai.

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Now, I am down to daily Tamoxifen tablets and 3-monthly Lucrin injections over the next 5 years. The Lucrin injection is a simple procedure which takes under 5 minutes at the clinic.  That means I see less of the oncology clinic walls (and my doctor) going forward!

Whilst I marked today with a celebratory mood, I was reminded that there are others going through tougher journeys. The lady in the seat directly opposite me today had a severe allergic reaction after taking a pre-chemo medication meant to settle her tummy. The nurses hadn’t even started her on chemotherapy yet. There was a huge flurry of activity as the doctor and nurses rushed her to the ICU upstairs. It was the first time I have seen such a drastic reaction in my 18 sessions at the clinic.

For me, it was a poignant reminder to be thankful for how well I have responded to treatment, and to continually nourish my physical and spiritual health going forward.

 

Psalms 28:7

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Related Posts:

God Knows Leh #18 – Finishing Final Chemotherapy with Char Kway Teow

God Knows Leh #5- I ate chicken rice for my first chemotherapy session

 

 

Over the weekend, I did a book reading at Bukit Panjang public library as part of NLB’s Read! Fest. It was the 1st day of the library’s reopening after 10 months of renovations. 

Located within Bukit Panjang Plaza, Bukit Panjang public library comes with a frontage that looked like a snazzy retail shop. The display shelves are like that of a bookshop, with fancy ceiling lighting designs that brightens the atmosphere and invites people in. 

I had the pleasure of reading Tibby & Scaredy Snout to a full room of over 50 adults and kids. As there were a good number of older kids in the room, I also gave them a sneak peek into the process of publishing a book.

Last evening, a mum told me that her 6-year old son had been in one of my book readings last year. He told her that he wanted to be an author after my session.

I hope that my readings can continue to encourage and inspire children to find joy in books even as they progress to primary school and beyond.

Recently, I made author visits to three Red Schoolhouses. I read my Tibby books to preschoolers from 2 – 6 years old and shared a bit more about my books with the older kids.

Children are never too young to be exposed to books and reading, like the 2-3 year olds I read to today. And it’s perfectly fine when they fidget. My 6-year-old has always been that way. And when I stop reading, he stops fidgeting to ask me to read on!

 

 

Exactly one year ago, on 1st June 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember that day in the doctor’s office very vividly.

Before that, cancer was a scary sickness which I would hear about now and then that someone had. Until it hit home. Now, I have become one of those people other people hear about.

How has life changed over the past year? 

Well, my most frequented places have been the doctors’ clinics. 

There was a whole series of tests and scans, followed by surgery and 9 days in hospital. 

Then, it was followed on with 6 cycles of 3-weekly chemotherapy for 4 and half months. 

Thereafter, I have been continuing on 3-weekly Herceptin and Pertuzameb antibody injections. Come July, I will complete 1 year of antibody injections.

I am also on a 3-monthly Lucrin injection to take me to early menopause and daily Tamoxifen tablets for the next 5 years.

In between those, I had 3-6 weekly blood tests, 6-weekly heart scans, a brain scan, lungs scan and another full body scan. Soon, I am up for another mammogram.

In the midst of these, I became acquainted with people around me battling cancer. I got to know two ladies from Ben’s work circles who were diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after my diagnosis. A mum from Caleb’s kindy also got in touch with me to share her recent breast cancer diagnosis. We shared our diagnosis and treatments. I have been praying for all of them as well as for 2 other ladies fighting cancer. 

As I reflect on this year past, I am clear on one thing. I reject cancer and give it no place and no credit in my identity. 

I refuse to call myself a cancer patient. I do not call myself a cancer survivor either. I am simply someone who was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am well now and I will live my life well, without the shadow of cancer obscuring my life lens.

I remind myself that my identity is in Christ. I am a child of God. And that’s where I will fix my eyes on. The right C. The most powerful C. Christ is my answer.

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 Related Posts:

God Knows Leh #2 – I really didn’t want to drink this chemo cup

Inside-out Kid #2 –It’s not fair, I didn’t want you to be in hospital!

 

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of watching the final storytelling show for the Prince Bear & Pauper Bear show run. The Learning Connection, an edu-arts company, staged its two final interactive storytelling performances of Prince Bear & Pauper Bear at St. James’ Church Kindergarten.

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The 45-minute show marked the end of the Kindy’s K1 and K2 camp (and last day of this school term) based on the theme: Wonderful World of Stories.

The interactive nature of the performance was fun because the actors had the children on their feet and participating in certain segments of the show. A great format since 5-6 year olds don’t sit still for long!

Thank you to TLC for adapting this book for a second time in 4 years and SJCK for bringing this show into its premises for the kindergarten kids!