Hi! My name is Jane.

Tell us about yourself

A combination of the traditional Asian upbringing (where you always overplan) and my lifelong career as an events professional has made me a very task focused individual. In the pursuit of delivering my tasks and somewhat getting somewhere on my career ladder, I had the usual bad habits of not eating on point, surviving only on coffee, along with my crutches of cigarettes, alcohol to the strong beats and riffs of heavy metal and rock. Even with my lifestyle, I was strong as an ox, with no hospitalization history and I cannot even remember the last time I had fever.

What led you to the diagnosis and how has the journey been like?

I first started having sores on my legs in late Nov 2020 and figured it will heal in the next month or so as the GP put it down to an allergic reaction to an insect bite.  

However after a month or so, things didn’t get better. I sought a second opinion and this time it sounded like we had something, autoimmune disease. The symptoms abated for a while but it eventually got so bad that I had new sores appearing and I could no longer walk.

I was then sent to a dermatologist, who took one look at me and said, no, you are going to the National Skin Centre.  Within a couple of weeks of being with the A/P at the Skin centre, he warded me for further checks stating that he felt abnormal lumps in my torso.

So, on the 12 March 2021 (my best friend’s birthday), I was officially diagnosed with cancer through the CT Scan imagery. I transferred to a private medical facility and 50 hrs after admission, I was delivered my first dose of chemo to manage the situation as the stats then showed I could either have ovarian or pancreatic cancer.  I was hoping fervently that it was the former.

The results came the following week, alas, I had to get it, I was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer stage 3, it has mestastasised to my liver, peritonenal and possibly ovaries as I have a large ovarian cyst.  I even asked my oncologist very innocently what me treatment plan looks like (even though deep down I knew I was in deep shit), and he took a deep breath, sat down and broached what we would term a very difficult conversion. Basically the approach is to shrink whatever is growing, and then plans will morph as the situation goes. What snapped me back to reality was “if it works, we can prolong your life by a few years”

Since March 2021 till now in Sept 2023, I’ve gone through 2 rounds of chemo, 1 round of targeted therapy via oral medicine, 3 surgeries of which 1, I literally was sewn up after being cut open. It has been an absolute rollercoaster but I’ve lived 2 years 3 months since – when the average prognosis is 12 months life extension with surgery.

I’m lucky to have lived this long with only chemo and today, it is mostly cleared in the liver and the rest reduced so significantly that the cameras weren’t picking them up. This put me in the right frame of mind to kick off chemo again; round 3 here we go.

Any advice for others who may be going through a similar experience?

Make your oncologist your “partner in crime”, he or she will be going on a long term journey with you.  It is important you like and have a rapport with each other.  If you are not comfortable to your assigned or first appointed oncologist, always seek a second option.

Talk to peers like us who understands or perhaps can empathise better with your situation.  The current cancer support groups out there don’t address this need, at least based on my personal experience.  We are sick yes, but we are not feeble minded.

Don’t lose yourself in the process, learn to embrace all the challenges, celebrate every single win, live life.