“I’ve been participating in the Pink Ribbon Walk every year since 2008, a year after my late wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. I just thought it was important to encourage other women to get checked now that she’s no longer with us.
When I first found out she had breast cancer, I was shocked and very angry. I blamed everybody – I blamed the sun, the moon, the dog, her mom, even her. I asked why did this have to happen to my family. I wasn’t aware of it then, because I was in denial.
Friends and relatives with good intentions would come over to comfort us and provide us with all kinds of information, but I found it all so confusing. I couldn’t really handle the overwhelming situation until I joined the support group at the Breast Cancer Foundation.
Back then, the group was called the Men’s Support League, but it has changed its name to the Caregivers Support Group because we realised that the term ‘caregiver’ is not gender-specific and can refer to a person’s daughter, mother or what have you.
On my first visit, I met the late Jacky, one of the founding members of the Breast Cancer Foundation. He told me I wasn’t alone and shared his own experiences with his wife who’s a breast cancer survivor.
He told me, ‘Your wife has cancer now; what are you going to do? Do you want to stay by her side and fight, or do you want to give up? If you give up on her, she will die, and your two daughters will be motherless. I’m sorry, but this is the situation you’re in now.’
I remember crying when I heard those words. He really saved me, and I eventually learnt to accept the situation we were in. And it was only when my wife and I accepted our situation that our whole lives changed for the better. It was a 180-degree change to be honest.
Before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, we were both very corporate people. My wife worked as an operations manager and I was the GM of a company, so we both worked really long hours. As parents, we just wanted to provide for our children.
But after she got sick, she resigned, and I left my job to work as a freelance business consultant. We started spending more time with our kids because was important to create a happy home environment so that they could focus on their studies.
We also changed our lifestyles and became much healthier. I had quite a big stomach, but we started becoming more conscious of our diet because of her condition. We travelled a lot too. We made short trips to places like Malaysia and Hong Kong, and I really treasure those moments.
In the last two years of her life, the cancer spread to her brain, and she eventually had to sit on a wheelchair before being bedridden as more medical complications occurred. She passed away in November 2015.
I’m okay. I was just glad she didn’t have to suffer anymore, but I do miss her. I miss everything about her. What can I say? It was love. I still wear our wedding ring to this very day.
The message that I want to send across is for men out there to encourage your loved ones – your mother, your sister, your daughter, your wife – to get checked. Early detection of breast cancer can save lives.
If your loved one is already diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s not the end of the world. There is an ecosystem of support provided by the Breast Cancer Foundation. You just have to be opened to receiving that support and move forward.” – Low Sie Cheong, 55
Interview by: Arman Shah