Self-proclaimed “hair queen” Cally Koh recalls the time she lost her crowning glory due to chemotherapy. “I was botak for 10 months and every day I dreamt of growing my hair back. Now I never complain about bad hair days!”
When she was diagnosed with Stage 2 triple negative breast cancer, Cally was 31 years old. She went through lumpectomy, 33 sessions of radiation and 7 months of chemotherapy.
These days, Cally is a strong advocate of breast cancer awareness, volunteering as a BCF Befriender and survivor sharer at awareness talks, sharing her personal message of hope, courage and triumph over cancer.
It was 2005. Back then, I was looking to volunteer my service. So I walked – a short distance from where I was staying – to the Breast Cancer Foundation and became their Wednesday receptionist.
For two years I was encouraging callers to go for regular mammograms, amongst other information that the caller may ask for. While I was telling the callers the necessity of doing so, I felt I had to walk the talk too as I was in the high-risk age group. Lo and behold, I found a small lump in 2007.Thanks to my early detection, only a lumpectomy was required. However, just to “better” my chances at eradicating more cancer cells, I opted for chemotherapy and radiotherapy after surgery. As a volunteer at Breast Cancer Foundation, I was awed by the hope and courage that the cancer survivors demonstrated.
My recovery from cancer has reinforced my belief to live life to the fullest. That is my motto after surviving cancer. I used to be so self-conscious and would worry about how and what other people would think if I should behave in a certain manner. Now, I would have no qualms about dancing in the shopping mall now if I am asked to.
Currently as a volunteer counsellor with Breast Cancer Foundation, I am doing my bit to inspire others and empower them through my sharing. Life is fragile. I was lucky that I detected and arrested my cancer growth early, thanks to my short stint in Breast Cancer Foundation. All cancer patients have their personal experience and stories. I would wish all the readers the same – go for regular mammograms. Early detection saves lives and saves breasts.