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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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Today is Thank God for Family, Friends and Favour Friday!

I disappeared from social media for the entire January and most of February since this year started. It was partly because my eyesight got blurry from staring at my phone too much the past few months….and I now own a pair of reading glasses ie. I’ve joined the Lau Hua Yan club.  And partly that I have resumed my routine of ferrying my 6-year old to Kindergarten and started writing too. 

I began the year with my writing residency at Gardens by the Bay, where I have taken several walks to plot my new manuscript. I’m also doing some writing and publishing work for 2 repeat clients.

In between all that, we celebrated Caleb’s 6th birthday, followed by Chinese New Year where I caught up with friends on top of the family visits.

But when someone emailed to ask if she needed to subscribe to my blog again to receive blogposts, I noted that I should update on where I am at.

I have ongoing 3-weekly antibodies injections (Herceptin and Pertuzameb) till July, which will be the end of this 1 year treatment. I am also on a 3-monthly Lucrin injection to take me to early menopause. And I am on daily Tamoxifen tablets.

I believe I am healed and well. So, to me, these are extra vitamins and supplements to strengthen my body.

It’s 3 months since my final chemotherapy cycle. I’ve grown from Sinead O Connor’s botak head to Annie Lennox’s super short cut. In another 3 months, I should get to Demi Moore’s Ghost hairstyle.

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My Annie Lennox phase – having my antibodies infusion yesterday

Until then, I’ll switch my assemble of K-pop wig, surgeon scrub caps, newsboy caps or commando like when I went for my medical appointment yesterday.

I thank God for family, friends and His seeing me through a rough 2016 and for His continued favour in this new year!

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.

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Today is Thank God for Family, Friends and Favour Friday! This Friday, on the eve’s eve of Christmas, I want to take time to thank God for:

1)      The still small voice who prompted me to do a self-examination earlier this year, which led to my early breast cancer diagnosis. I thank God for the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

2)      The doctors who came my way through various relationships – my breast surgeon, plastic surgeon and oncologist – and have been a blessing with their skills and care

3)      The friendship and favour from many whom I got to know over these 6 months

4)      The prayers and support from friends from many circles of friendship, from past work circles to school friends of over 20-30 years to Caleb’s Kindy, amongst others

5)      God’s provisions through big and small needs, from our insurance coverage to seeing me through surgery without pain and chemotherapy with minimal side effects

6)      My parents who have helped ferry Caleb to Kindy and his other activities since my 1st June diagnosis

7)      The bible readings that have revealed to me so many truths these few months, especially on health and healing

8)      The words impressed upon me multiple times on heart issues which I have been unpacking and releasing – a detoxing of the heart

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9)      Ben, who has stoically supported me through this wilderness period and is a wonderful dad to Caleb

10)   For Christmas – for Jesus Christ, who came to bring forgiveness, peace and love to this broken world

Psalms 119:165   Those who love your teachings will find true peace

Jeremiah 29:13  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart

 

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise” – Psalms 42:4

Related posts:

God Knows Leh #17 – Rainbows for chasing Start & End Date Chemo Blues

Inside-Out Kid #6 – I want to be with Mummy till Infinity

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Today is TGFFF – Thank God for Family, Friends & Favour Friday!

October is my wedding anniversary and birthday month. This year has been especially significant, following the breast cancer diagnosis, as I am reminded to cherish my time with my family and friends.

Family!

Ben took leave on my birthday and we had a quiet lunch together.

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I also decided to attempt 9-holes golf for the first time since my mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. I wasn’t sure how my reconstructed body would hold up given I only have my left six-pack muscles in my tummy. (My right six-pack was promoted upwards to become the left breast.) Well, I got through 5-holes and managed to tee off further than pre-surgery. So that’s a good start.

Friends!

For our 18th wedding anniversary, we decided to celebrate with a group of close friends. I asked our friends to come in matching couple outfits and everyone did so sportingly. No prizes for guessing who won 1st prize for the Best Matched Couple. (Their photo is the biggest amongst our friends).

 

For my birthday week, I also caught up with both old and newer friends.

 

Favour!

I caught a strong flu bug right after my last round of chemo and was holed up at home for a week. It was a reminder to rest and not run ahead of myself. And that reminder came through again when my last chemotherapy session scheduled for today had to be postponed.

My heart scan showed up some fluid retention around the heart which could possibly be due to a side effect of a chemo drug or from the recent bout of flu. I will need to do a follow-up review in 3 weeks before the final chemo session can be scheduled.

I’m thankful for my oncologist who has seen me through all this over the past 15 weeks of chemo treatment. As I approach the tail-end of chemo (now delayed by another 3 weeks), I need to be still and wait patiently for this season to pass.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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Today is TGIFFFF – Thank God for Family, Friends & Favour Friday!

Family & Friends!

  1. Last Saturday, my dad, Ben and my 3 Godchildren took the stage to shave their heads for Hair for Hope at Vivocity.

 

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Ben, my dad and my 3 godchildren on stage for the 1st group shave at Hair for Hope

 

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Our collective bald statement after the shave. Caleb did not want to be in the photo.

 

My dad’s brother and his son (my uncle and cousin) decided to join in too. They registered on the spot and managed to shave several hours later.

Charles, father of my godkids, who wasn’t registered, went downstairs to QB House to pay for a shave to join his kids in their bald statements.

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Ben, my dad and my 3 godchildren on stage for the 1st group shave at Hair for Hope

 

 

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The Changs at Jaime’s

 

 

My family and Gail’s family’s bald statements strengthened me so much that I did not shed a tear when I lost all my hair 2 days later.

 

2. It was also Singapore’s 1st National Reading Day. So prior to that, my amazing friends Gail and Jing Siew were over at the Central Library, taking my place for the reading of Tibby & Duckie.

Gail reads Tibby & Duckie with Angel, her youngest

Gail reads Tibby & Duckie with Angel, her youngest (Photo credit: NHB)

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As Gail reads, Jing Siew (back turned to camera) holds the book for the children behind

10 years ago, when I did my 1st public reading of my 1st book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear, I went with fear and trembling (my voice was literally trembling because I still had the remnants of a voice disorder Spasmodic Dysphonia which made my voice shaky). Gail and Jing Siew brought their kids to help me out. They supported me right through my years of public readings till now. I’m so grateful for them standing by me through thick, thin and botak.

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Favour!

Thanks to everyone’s prayers, my first cycle of chemo and post-op treatment went well, with minimal side effects.

I had a puberty-like outbreak of 50 zits in one go, apparently due to lowered immunity. Whilst I was slightly blue for those couple of days, it was minor in the bigger scheme of things. I have continued eating well. And I have also gotten more sleep in these 3 weeks than I have in the 6 weeks prior.

And I am grateful.

Today, I will go for my second chemo and post-op treatment. I continue to pray that it will serve the sole purpose of eradicating any remaining cancer cells and have minimal side effects on me.

Psalms 63:5 You satisfy my soul with the richest food. My mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

Related links:

My Botak Brigade’s raised over S$32,000 for Hair for Hope

Mummy, you can take out your pretend hair at home

 

 

 

 

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Today is TGIFFFF- Thank God for Favour, Family & Friends Friday:

FAMILY!

  1. Fab Family

I thank God for my family’s pillars of support through this journey.

On the week before my chemo, I had planned to shave my head alone and spend the rest of the day crying at home.

But Ben had another plan. He and Caleb stayed with my through the shave. I only teared for 1 minute because my little one next to me made me laugh. He pulled a chair next to me and drew an airplane which dripped pee from its plane toilets onto the heads of bad guys below. How do you cry amidst such absurdity?

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Post-shave, sporting my new K-Pop star look

Then my parents and brother’s family showed up unexpectedly to wait for me to finish my shave and wig-fitting.

So that was the end of my grand crying plan.

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FRIENDS!

2. Kick-butt friends

On the morning of my 1st chemo and post-op treatment, I woke to whatsapp messages from several friends who remembered and told me they were praying for me.

My very dear friend Arlene sent me a whole series of booster messages throughout my 5-hour treatment. And this was from Australia where she is visiting family.

She tagged them as #watchemilybeatcancer.

My girlfriend Gail came over to watch Caleb all of this Monday afternoon as he was home sick in the week where my immunity is supposed to be at its lowest.

And she has re-arranged her schedule to do so every Monday. She has four kids and she is carving out time to watch mine. I’m so overwhelmed by her love and friendship. (Gail, thanks for being the bestest friend ever :)).

GOD’S FAVOUR!

3. For my 1st cycle of chemo and anti-breast cancer drugs treatment, I had 4 drugs intravenously injected into my arm in slow drip over 5 hours:

Taxotere + Carboplatin (chemo drugs) + Herceptin + Pertuzumab (breast cancer drugs)

(Who on earth comes up with these unspellable names?)

Because I responded well, the nurse told me that I could have a light lunch one hour into the first drug.

So I ate a packet of chicken rice.

When my oncologist came round to see how I was faring, I told him that I just finished Herceptin (the 1st anti-HER-2 drug) and chicken rice.

His jaw dropped. In a good way.

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1 day post-chemo, headed to clinic for my 1st booster jab

 

4. Prior to this, I checked up with 4 breast cancer survivors and was told a loss of appetite and depleted energy are huge side effects of chemo, amongst a few others.

Thanks to everyone’s prayers and God’s medicine (3 doses of Bible a day), I’ve had very little side effects in week 1. I have also continued eating like a horse and been able to taste and enjoy my food.

And I was so energized creatively this week that I have started working on a new picture book manuscript for the first time since my diagnosis 7 weeks back. Which perked me up even more.

5. Yesterday was the Singapore Michelin Guide Launch and Awards Dinner. Ben had bought a table months back. We decided to invite the team of doctors who have attended to me as our appreciation for taking care of me beyond their call of duty. (On top of doctoring me, my poor doctors have to take questions from me about God, life and healing!)

I wasn’t sure if I would make it to dinner since I had just started chemotherapy.

So yesterday, on day 7 post-chemo, my Onco saw me for my blood count. My white blood cells count and immunity registered an all-time high from the preceding 5-days of booster jabs. So, it was two thumbs up for yesterday evening’s dinner. And then, Onco saw me at dinner a few hours later!

So, I got ready for my 1st outing in 7 weeks that didn’t involve seeing doctors.

Pre-Michelin Dinner

Oh…that’s technically incorrect.

My outing did involve my doctors. We had a table of my oncologists, plastic surgeon, breast surgeon, and we invited my eye surgeon friend.  So, all round, I was in very good hands all evening.

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With my beautiful surgeon friends

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My dream team of doctors who look like they just stepped out from Grey’s Anatomy and E.R… except these lookers are for real. Step aside, Mc Dreamy.

 

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Attending the Oscars of Dining Awards

 

 

I’m so thankful for God’s Favour, Family and so many awesomely kick-butt Friends (including my amazing doctors) who are supporting me through this journey.

I continue to pray for completion and restoration through it all.

Psalm 69:30: I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving.

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Over the past week, I was in a country in Southeast Asia with another trainer Marlene conducting writing workshops for aspiring Christian writers.

I’ve given overseas talks before. But this was my first time running full-day workshops and I went with some concerns on how things would go.

I ended up receiving training as much as I did training and took away a few thoughts from the experience:

  1. From Empire Café to Hanis Café to further roads

When I first left my past life working for a luxury hotel company and became a writer, I literally and figuratively crossed over from Raffles Hotel’s Empire Cafe (my department’s lunch hangout) to the National Library’s Hanis Cafe outlet (across the road) for my meals.

I spent many good afternoons at Hanis Cafe after my morning visits to the library’s children’s section. And yes, I liked my S$4 beef burger as much as the S$35 lobster noodles from across the road.

Last week, I made another crossover in my training workshops overseas. I was reminded of how blessed we are in Singapore in terms of infrastructure and meeting facilities, all of which I sometimes take for granted.

 

  1. Don’t Rush, Be Patient Lah

Being the typical Singaporean, I thought we should pack in as much as possible into our workshop programme. And over the months prior, I worked on shaping the programme together with fellow trainer, Marlene, an accomplished author and editor from the Philippines.

We learnt very quickly that we needed to leave space for reading time, translation time and much more personal one-on-one consultation time with the participants.

In “slowing” down, we in fact gained much more in the training as we allowed key writing principles to sink in and percolate like a good brew of tea. If we had gone “fast food” style and stuffed everyone with content, I think they would have gotten little nutritional value due to indigestion.

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3. Found in translation 

I started the first morning by getting the participants to spark ideas in English since most of them could speak English. I was disappointed when we did not get as much out of it.

Then in the afternoon, we decided to have them share childhood stories in their local language (with simultaneous translation). It opened a wealth of heartfelt stories which provide excellent material for children’s picture books and also gave me deeper insights into each participant.

I had mistakenly thought I would be lost in translation. Instead, I had inadvertently limited the participants because they were able to share much more in their native language.

Many ideas and much encouragement was found in translation.

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3. The Write way with personal stories  

Once we got to the tipping point of our workshops, Marlene and I found our greatest encouragement from the participants’ personal stories.

At the end of 4 full days of training, most participants wrote 1 personal testimony, 1 devotional article and 1 children’s picture book manuscript (inspired by their childhood) for their first time.

I wasn’t planning to write but I ended up working on 1 devotional piece too and it brought forth an old forgotten memory from childhood. (More on that later)

Finally, my biggest takeaway?

I could do all the planning in the world (and I should), but I needed to leave room for God to work beyond my pre-conceived notions and expectations.

On the final two days, we re-jigged our programme to allow space for the participants to write, time to translate, time for us trainers to give detailed one-on-one critiques and finally to hear out everyone’s stories.

We came away richer for that and thankful for God’s mercies through it all.

 

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