I am 48 years old.
I am originally from South Asia – Brunei Darussalam. When I was young, I had to take care of my parents. My father died when I was 12 years old.
My life has been filled with many firsts.I was the first one to leave home. I was the first one to get my university degree. I was the first one to get married. I was the first one to have a child and now I am the first one to get diagnosed with cancer. I learned I had breast cancer in September 2012.
I often wonder why these things happen to me. It’s not fair!
Even though I have been separated from my husband since my daughter, Angeli, was five years old, I knowI am not alone. I get my strength from God … I go to church on Sundays. I go to a Baptist church. I have support. I think that God may have put a pea in my right breast so that my doctor would feel it and then He put the cancer in my left breast, but nobody could feel it.
Having cancer has changed me. I live in the minute now. I don’t get upset with the small stuff. Angeli, who’s now 16, is the centre of my life. Before, I was worried about her dating, but now I enjoy her growing up and seeing her date.
I’ve prepared myself for her to disappear from my life. I think I have brought her up well and should let her go free.
However, when I talk to Angeli about dying, she says: “Mom, don’t talk to me about that, you scare me.”I tell her that it’s not scary. Not knowing is more terrifying than knowing what is going to happen.
I want her to know that someone will take care of her.
For now, it’s about taking one step at a time. The decision whether to have chemo was difficult. As a kid, I had motion sickness. I can’t function when I’m nauseous. But the question became without chemo, how long could I live? I thought 10 years would be fine. Angeli would be in her mid-20s.
Prior to my diagnosis, I had never thought about dying. When I learned I had cancer, I still believed that when I went for my next mammogram, it would somehow magically disappear.
Those first days were the hardest. I remember going to the pool and one of the other swimming parents telling me something about his having to have an operation where there was a risk that he could go blind. I made a joke about it because I was going to die. It was my way of dealing with stress. I later went back and apologized, telling him I had just got the call about having cancer.
Sometimes you need to joke around – it makes life easier to deal with.