By: Ina Joseph
Our mothers are heroes. Our mothers epitomize strength and love and abundance just by nature of the weight they carry bringing our lives into the world. Every mother deserves the utmost celebration not only on Mother’s Day, but every day after. In continuation of our Mother’s Day Tribute, we wanted to continue giving special recognition to mothers in the breast cancer community.
Enduring, let alone surviving, breast cancer is a feat in and of itself. Surviving breast cancer and experiencing motherhood – no matter what the chronology - is an unimaginable and remarkable journey which often goes overlooked. We spoke to some survivor moms about the dual reality of motherhood and breast cancer; the lessons they’ve learned, the graces they’ve gained, and all of the love and hardship in between. This week, we spoke to Chee Goon Hoe, president of Malaysia's Pink Penang Breast Cancer Support Group and two-time cancer survivor.
We continue to wish a Happy Mother’s Day every day to women like Chee, who’ve braved breast cancer and motherhood.
Name: Chee Goon Hoe
Age: 68 years old
Location: Penang Malaysia
Occupation & Interests: Retired government servant (senior book-keeper), reading & music
Amour Caché (AC): Tell us a bit about your story and background.
Chee (C): I am a two-time cancer survivor.
1994 stage 3 NPC spread to neck lymph nodes (nasopharyngeal carcinoma) completed 35 sessions of radiotherapy and recovered. 2010 stage 4 right breast cancer spread to lungs & bones. Mastectomy done & completed 12 cycles of chemo.
I was awarded “Global Hero of Hope” by the American Cancer Society early 2014 recognizing my service in cancer support.
AC: How has breast cancer impacted your experience with motherhood (or vice versa)?
C: I nearly gave up hope when I was diagnosed stage IV breast cancer end of 2010. The doctor said I could survive only four months.
One statement that my only son made at that time gave me strength to stand up: "Mom, even if you lose everything in the world, it doesn’t matter, you still have me!" I was so touched and decided to fight all the way through, and eventually, I won the battle.
AC: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from experiencing both motherhood and breast cancer?
C: "The power of love creates miracles in life!"
AC: Describe the most rewarding aspect of being a “survivor mom” in 15 words or less.
C: Inspiring confidence and hope in others.
AC: What advice would you give to survivor soon-to-be moms or moms who have just received a diagnosis?
C: To stay hopeful. I have seen a lot of patients who were told they were terminally ill and became depressed, but after joining a cancer support group and surrounding themselves with people who survived their “death sentence”, they, too, recovered. Hope and love can really inspire confidence and willpower to survive.
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