With three choices presented to her, Jen no doubt had one of the toughest decision to make.
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
Faced with the impossible, Jen said that the anchor in her decision-making process was a deeply spiritual and personal one.
“A lady came to visit me in the hospital to give me a message from God. It was a command to me from the Bible: ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’,” said Jen.
“The second message I received was a revelation which God sent through another stranger to reassure me. A young lady visited me in the hospital and told me that she too was diagnosed with cancer whilst pregnant eight years ago. She underwent chemotherapy and despite the odds, her baby is now a healthy eight-year-old. The message she brought was that my baby would be like a rock flower; a flower that will thrive despite the many harsh conditions that she would be put through,” said Jen.
Confident that God had her back, Jen decided to keep her
pregnancy and begin chemotherapy.
Journeying through Chemo
Her path wasn't an easy one, taxing her physically and emotionally. “Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, mouth sores, neuropathy, and so on wear on the body. Emotionally, it can be tough but I have a lot to live for and I know treatment improves the chances of survival, so I cheer myself on. It can be a mental battle but it is a battle I gladly forge for the sake of children and my family,” she says.
Delivering Baby Jill
When the time came for Jen to deliver, a caesarean was done and Jen was conscious to experience the birth. Miraculously, she delivered a baby that was perfectly healthy. “It was a momentous half hour where I was so excited to see my baby. When the nurses placed her on my chest, it was pure bliss. I marvelled at how beautiful and perfect she was. She had a lot of hair too, an amazing crop! The medical team was tearing and cheering.”
Two weeks after Jen delivered, she went in for a chemotherapy session and was admitted for monitoring. Jen began feeling a radiating pain in her stomach, making her splutter and gasp. A CT scan showed that her colon had perforated and the tumour had ruptured. An emergency surgery was quickly decided upon and Jen’s lead surgeon flew back to Singapore to scrub in.
“I remember crying when I was wheeled into the operating theatre, thinking, this could be the very last time I would see my loved ones. The surgeons went in to try to save my life from the spillage within. The agenda was not to attempt taking out my other tumours. But God had other plans,” she said.
Once in, the surgeons found that spillage did not happen, as part of her small intestines conveniently blocked the perforation. “My vascular surgeon happened to be in the next OT doing a procedure and he came in to look at my other tumour and managed to peel the tumour off my blood vessels! So, they called in the urologist to detach the tumour entirely!”
A Happy Ending
While Jen had to sacrifice her kidney (which was in a bad state), all visible tumours were removed within seven hours.
“My family was jubilant! The doctors were so happy with the outcome! From a no hope situation to a good resection of all my visible tumours? The worst thing that could have happened became the best thing. My family huddled together and immediately began to thank God,” Jen said.
Today, Jen is involved with the Singapore Cancer Society's Relay for Life (RFL). Relay for Life is a 17-hour community event that aims to rally the community to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors, remember those lost to the disease and support the fight against cancer. With the goal of uniting people who have experienced cancer – be it as a patient, survivor, caregiver, family or friend, RFL aims to raise $800,000 to fund SCS programmes and services.