Rise In L-O-V-E Spotlight Series Part 3

Interview with Jessica Niew, Financial Service Manager.

 

In love, we rise. In the third and final part of our “Rise In Love” series, we had a heart-to-heart talk with breast cancer warrior Jessica Niew. The 36-year-old mother of two young children opens up about her journey — from the time she was diagnosed to the course of the treatments and now in remission — how she overcame some of the most difficult battles both physical and mental, what it has taught her about living this life, and how keeping her mind strong has cheered her body on to work its magic. This is a story of a woman who cannot and will not be defeated because she chooses love — for her family, for life, and for herself — over fear every step of the way.

1. Hi, Jessica. Thank you for agreeing to share your story with us. Can you tell us how you first discovered you had breast cancer? How did you feel/respond when you found out?
After my son turned one, I decided to stop breast-feeding. I visited a breast surgeon to get medication for that purpose, and to do a routine check-up. I hadn’t expected anything to be wrong as there were no signs or symptoms — my breast has always felt full, and I thought the lumps I had felt then were because of lactation. The ultrasound and a series of tests from that check-up confirmed it was breast cancer. Before I got the full results, I thought I was mentally prepared for the worst. Somehow, I believed it was early-stage breast cancer. When the results came back to reveal it was Stage 3, I was shocked, but I was quite calm at the same time — I just asked my doctor how we would proceed from there. The only thought in my mind throughout was: I need to recover and get rid of that cancer so that I can be with my kids and watch them grow up for a long, long time. I would do anything for more time with them. My only request was to start my treatment after Chinese New Year.

2. From the time you found out to the journey of your treatments, what have been the hardest moments in your experience? How have you been overcoming these moments every day?
The hardest part for me was breaking the news to my parents, especially my mum. Seeing your child suffer is the worst feeling in the world. I just wanted to reassure my mum that I was okay, convincing her that medical technology is so advanced nowadays, that I’d be okay in no time. Other than that, there were of course the physical battles — the weight gain, the aches in my bones as a result of the medication, and post-surgery side effects such as cording (Axillary Web Syndrome). I tried to overcome them by working out regularly and doing what I can to strengthen my body and rebuild my health.

3. How do you think it has changed you as a woman, as a mother, and your outlook on life?

I have learnt to seek and receive help. It not easy for me as I’m someone who does it all. I always find that asking help will mean troubling someone else. But in fact, that not always the case. I am still learning to slow down in life and to be patient with myself. Life is not a race but a marathon. Do things I like before it is too late. Spend more time with my kid and watch them grow. Teach my kids about how I learned to ask for help and to receive help. It is not easy for me because I’m someone who has always “done it all”, who takes care of everything. In my mind, asking for help means troubling and imposing on others. I’ve learnt that that’s not always the case. I am learning to slow down in life and to be patient with myself. Life is not a sprint, but a marathon. I want to do all the things I like before it’s too late. I want to spend more time with my kids and watch them grow up. I want to teach them some of the life lessons that I’ve learned the hard way. Embrace and love your body, heart and soul, and you will shine from the inside out — that’s my current mantra.

4. Support from family, friends and other women who have survived or are fighting it alongside you matter and help, no doubt. But how important has it been to be your own cheerleader? How has your inner strength, loving and believing in yourself help you through this time?

Inner strength is so important. Without that, I would have fallen into depression many times and stayed there (it doesn’t help that your hormones go all haywire during the treatment). I’m a strong believer of mind over body — this belief has helped me overcome many obstacles in life, especially throughout this journey. I established the belief in my mind and heart that the treatment would be like a walk in the park, and getting rid of the cancer would be the only outcome; that once I’ve completed the treatment, I will come out stronger. When your mind and heart believe, your body will do the magic.

5. Can you tell us more about how Breast Cancer Foundation has supported you in your journey?

I was introduced to Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) by my breast surgeon. After joining BCF, I was added to a support group chat for young women with breast cancer. I learn a lot from these ladies — and it has made me feel less alone on this journey because there are all of these strong, amazing women fighting the same battle alongside me.

6. Mother’s Day is coming up. What would be a meaningful way for you and your family to celebrate?

I think going for a short getaway to spend some quality time together would be great.

 

You might also like to read our interviews with Jeraldine Chan, co-founder and lead KOL for the Facebook Live channel, My BKK Shop, and Avalynn Chiang, who advocates a healthy lifestyle.
For this series, ByCanary created and launched the “Rise In Love” collection in support of Breast Cancer Foundation.
We’ve pledged to donate 20% of proceeds from the collection.

  SHOP RISE IN LOVE COLLECTION   

 

ABOUT BREAST CANCER FOUNDATION

Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) is a social service agency which advocates for the early detection of breast cancer and supports the breast cancer community in Singapore. Established since 1997 in Singapore, BCF actively raises breast cancer awareness through talks, events, research and publications that advocate for early detection through regular screening.

BCF supports those affected by breast cancer through psycho-social programmes, support groups and befriending activities.

BCF offers subsidy assistance to support low-income women for their first-time mammogram screenings and runs a complimentary wig loan programme. As a registered charity in Singapore, BCF is self-funded and is dependent on public donations to provide quality services and programmes for more women and their families.

BCF runs Singapore’s very first Breast Cancer Centre at Sin Ming Court. The Centre also welcomes members of the public who wish to find out more about breast cancer. 

For more information on BCF, please visit www.bcf.org.sg or https://www.facebook.com/BreastCancerFoundationSG

Early detection through monthly Breast Self-Examinations (BSE), can help to reduce risk of breast cancer. Use this guide to help you.


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