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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!

This year is the 1st time I am missing the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) since it started 7-8 years back. My official AFCC babysitters ie. my parents, are away on holiday, cruising somewhere in Europe.

Although I’m not getting my usual one full week of pure adult, book-geek conversations, I do have one major highlight from the event.

My Slovakian publisher is a speaker at AFCC this year and we had a chance to catch up over lunch yesterday. She also brought with her, hot off the press, and air-flown….Slovak copies of my books!

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I managed to attend Petra’s 1st AFCC session where she shared about the Slovakian market and also read a few pages of Prince Bear & Pauper Bear in Slovak. Petra’s an ex-TV journalist, amongst many other accomplishments. She’s also an uber-cool doting mum of four kids. She brought two of them – teenagers! – along for the conference. Her son helped her through her powerpoint presentation. Her daughter took photos for her.

As I watched them, I wondered if Caleb and I will be like that in 10 years’ time. Something for me to aspire towards!

Over the weekend, I ran my second Writer in the Gardens workshop at Gardens by the Bay. I took 20 families on a walk through a lesser known part of the Gardens to soak in the ambience and let our imagination wander with story ideas. With so much happening, I didn’t do a headcount and forgot the group photo but with parents and kids, I think we ended up with a sizeable group of about 50 people.

I was pleasantly surprised by a few friends from the past who showed up for the workshop. Two were my secondary schoolmates who brought their daughters for the workshop.

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With my secondary schoolmates and & daughters (Photo credit: Eleanor Kor)

An ex-colleague whom I have not seen in years came with her son. And a new friend I recently got to know in the past 6 months brought her daughter.

After setting the tone for the workshop with a short powerpoint (in the aircon of Canonball Room), we headed out at 5pm, which was a lovely time for a walk through the Gardens.

We stopped at 3 locations, where I asked the children to create a villain character at the Petrified Wood (at Location 1), draw magical creatures at the Understory/Mushroom Dome (at Location 2) and imagine what sort of magic created the Web of Life creatures (at Location 3).

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Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

 

 

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 Photo credit (Ong Puay See)

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I hope the children took away ideas and new perspectives about finding stories in the Gardens and places all around us. Meanwhile, I also have homework to do as I hunker down to work on my Residency manuscript inspired by the Gardens!  

A blogger mum (Angie of Growing Hearts 123) brought her kids and wrote a lovely comprehensive review of the workshop here. Thank you Angie!

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The Slovakian editions of my two picture books Prince Bear & Pauper Bear and The Tale of Rusty Horse have just been printed!

I am eagerly looking forward to collecting my advance copies from my publisher who will be in Singapore as a speaker at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2017 next week.

 

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My publisher’s daughter holding the advance copies of my books

 

I met Petra Nagyová Džerengová at AFCC a few years back when she attended a panel session that I spoke on. She had come as an invited guest. When she told me that she was the Deputy Mayor of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, I asked if she thought my books would be suitable in Slovakia. She said yes.

I did not know then that Petra (on top of being Deputy Mayor, bestselling author and proud mum of 4 kids) is also Managing Director of leading Slovakian publisher Verbarium.

Thanks to Petra, my books now have a voice in Slovakia! This is the 4th language that my Toy Titles have been published in.

(My books are now also available online at Verbarium’s website.)

 

Caleb and I recently followed Ben on his 16-day work trip to Switzerland and USA.

It was an important family trip for us after 10 months of being in and out of doctors’ clinics and multiple scans following my surgery last June where I had one breast removed and reconstructive surgery following a breast cancer diagnosis. I thank God that I am well and was ready for my big trip.

As Ben’s work locations were in two rather un-touristy towns, I packed several small travel toys and activities for some afternoons where I might just want to veg out in the hotel room when Ben was at work.

I wrote out a travel checklist to remind myself of various things to pack into our luggage.

Caleb, who loves to be involved in everything, saw my list and decided to start his own travel checklist.

He followed me around the house, asking me how to spell words that he added to his list.

When he reached item #24 on his list, he told me, “Remember to bring Joy.”

“Bring what?” I asked as I busied with packing his clothes and toys.

“Being Joy…you know Joy? Joy in your heart,” he said.

I paused from my busy bee state and looked up. “Wow…,” I said. “Okay, we will bring Joy.”

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“And don’t forget me,” Caleb said as he added his own name to his packing list. “We’ll also bring God and Jesus,” he said, adding two more names to his list.

And so we did.

We had a free and easy, chilled out vacation.

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Caleb and I spent a morning playing in a patch of residual snow outside our hotel.

An afternoon in the bookstore when it was too chilly to be outdoors.

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And other simple pleasures.

And we were filled with joy in our hearts.

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