Catherine Ng, breast cancer survivor, who received treatment overseas (i.e. USA), was one of the pioneers of Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF). 20 years ago, she saw the gap in Singapore’s support system for breast cancer patients.
At that point of time, there was no organisation in Singapore that reached out to breast cancer patients specifically, so it was difficult for breast cancer patients and survivors to find a sensitive support system. After learning and observing how foreign organisations provided support for patients, Catherine, together with a group of friends and lay-led professionals who were passionate for the cause, founded BCF in 1997. Throughout the 19years, Catherine has been relentless in giving to the organisation, ensuring a strong support network for newly diagnosed women and their family members.
In 1995, when Catherine was 57, she was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer that was discovered in her left breast during a regular medical check-up. After she underwent lumpectomy, she began several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy within a year which made her feel very weak and had regular mood swings that caused her to flare up very easily. She was constantly suffering from nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and mouth ulcers which made her hair loss condition less significant at that point in time.
Her husband, Mr. Jackie Ng, also a founding member of BCF, and children were Catherine’s pillars of support during the hard times. Her family accompanied her to treatment sessions and cooked healthy meals, amongst the many things they did to make her feel the love and support they have for her. Her husband even helped to shave her head when she began losing her hair and reassured her that she was still beautiful, often giving her lots of encouragement and motivation.
With the help of prayers and meditation coupled with Catherine’s strong will and self-discipline, she was guided back on a steady road to recovery. “Your mind must be very strong because when your mind is strong, your body will be strong.” As a founding member of BCF, she was kept busy with many activities including volunteering activities with BCF members, visiting patients in hospitals, setting up the English and Mandarin support groups and establishing BCF operations including the hospital counselling programme.
She never looked back since and returned to work three years after the diagnosis. Today, Catherine remains an active member of BCF and her story serves as an epitome that there is indeed, life after breast cancer.