A fresh new start.
I’ve been inactive on social media recently because my family, Marc and I had to deal with a series of unfortunate news and issues. Issues pertaining to my health and quality of life. Here I am, a month and a half after surgery, sharing my story. It all seemed surreal, scary and relieving at the same time.
Take it back to 2013.
I fell on stage on a reality-singing TV show that I was on. I kept getting back aches for weeks. Went for appointments but the x-rays were clear. I didn’t think much of it because it might have been due to bad sleep or whatever. I even went to Macau to bungee jump.
Then 2014 came. 2015 came. I was struggling with the same lower back pain everyday. Different day, different intensity. Went for x-rays again but they were clear. The doctors gave me painkillers. I took them but I found out that I was allergic to them. The pain got worse and worse every passing month and I endured. At one point onwards, I was sleeping seated up every night.
End of 2015, Marc, my family and I went to Europe for 2 weeks. Returned back to Singapore after New Year ’16 and the nightmare began. I had problems getting out of bed on some days. The pain was so intense that it was so difficult to find a position that that didn’t hurt. I missed quite a bit of school and work. Back to the hospital, this time to see a specialist. He told me I was experiencing this back ache because I don’t exercise often. He told me to go home and try some exercises. 2 months later, I returned. I couldn’t move properly to even exercise!?! Somehow, my dad insisted that I went for an MRI.
June 2016: The MRI results were ready. I can never forget what the doctor said.
During the MRI, they found that there was something in my spinal area. A tumor.
“I’m so sorry. You’re so young. We still have to do further investigations.”
I wasn’t upset. I was confused. I thought it must have been a misdiagnosis since he did after all said my backache was due to the fact that I don’t exercise much. So I left that room, feeling rather amused.
Around Mid June,
I found myself in A&E because my back was aching so badly that I went to the hospital to get some painkillers. They gave me another type of painkiller and later that evening, I found myself bloated and breathless.
The next day, I had to see another specialist and another specialist. By then, it wasn’t amusing to me anymore. I saw the MRI and they explained to me what it was.
Intramedullary Spinal Cord Tumor. From T9 to T12.
What was difficult to sink in was the fact that I had a tumor. How the hell did that happen? You don’t just wake up one day and get that kind of news. Korean drama much?!
As usual, when shit happens, I asked “Why me?”
We booked our dates for surgery, all set. The doctor had told us that once we remove the tumor, I should be able to recover well and be okay. I made arrangement to defer school. My family got ready for all the changes that needed to be done because of my immobility the first few months. I felt pretty good because I could be okay.
In between I had to go for so many different tests and check ups. I had to do another MRI for my head, to ensure that I didn’t have tumor in my head. My head was clear, thankfully.
I even did a show at Esplanade Concourse! Haha. I was in so much pain but I managed to pull through. Thank you everyone who came down.
So a month before the surgery, the head of the neurology department from that hospital gave me a call. Urgently needed to see me.
Marc and I went down. He discouraged us from going for the op because…it was 100% chance of paralysis.
Shit got real, real quick. I sank into this pit of hopelessness and depression. Again, I doubted myself. Doubted the world. How could I be in this position? Why?
Marc went out of his way and searched for a doctor who could do something. Our family and friends been nothing but lovely. To all who gave me recommendations and tried to find help for me, thank you thank you thank you. I’m so grateful.
A few days later, an appointment was set. Marc found me a doctor.
Dr Keith Goh from Mount Elizabeth Orchard. Things started to look up from here.
I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing Dr Keith Goh is. I felt so much relieve because he told me I could go for surgery and he’s confident that I have 80% chance of recovery and that I’ll be fine. Marc and I both broke out in tears when he said that.
80% chance of recovery sounds better than 100% chance of paralysis. He also said I should be able to get back on my feet in around 3-4months after surgery.
We set a date for surgery immediately and all seemed well.
A week and a half before the surgery, I couldn’t walk. Or get out of bed. Things got worse. So surgery date had to be shifted earlier. I was scared. My family seemed scared. Marc was scared.
I went on with the surgery. I have an 18cm incision on my back. The doctors only managed to remove 50% of the tumor. It’s a benign low-grade astrocytoma. Hospitalised for a week.
I won’t go in details about the surgery and hospitalisation because I was absolutely out of it. Hahah. I was taking so much medication.
Three weeks after surgery, I was back on my feet. 4 weeks after surgery, I was already back to playing at some playground. Haha.
Well, it’s been 8 weeks since the surgery and I’m back to work. Back to normal life. I feel great. My legs feel a little numb but nothing that’s affecting me so much.
I want to thank everyone who kept me in your prayers. It’s been such a roller coaster ride. I’m so thankful to my parents, my family and Marc’s family and also Marc Than, for finding me a great surgeon like Dr Keith Goh. He truly gave me a new lease of life. Thank you to the nurses from Mount E. who took care of me.
I came out of all that feeling like a new person. I see the world differently. One thing I can say is that, I will not take what I have for granted. My fully functional legs, my lovely family and friends and my wonderful partner in life. I wouldn’t have been able to pull through without such a strong support system x
A quote I found online. By someone who knew Dr Keith Goh.
“We cannot save everyone but we can create unforgettable moments. We cannot add days to life but we can add life to days.”
-Dr. Keith Goh
Board Chairman of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Singapore