She couldn't cope with dad's death

In August 2009, Ms Jen Tan's father was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer.

The following month, he died - but not because he had succumbed to the disease.

The 74-year-old jumped out the window of his 26th-floor HDB flat.

Ms Tan, a 40-year-old clinic assistant, told TNP: "That day, my mother called me to tell me that my dad was nowhere in the flat.

"Then she said the window grilles were unlocked. I was in a state of shock.

"I immediately hung up and called her back later, telling her I didn't believe her."

Ms Tan, who has four older brothers, was unable to cope with their father's suicide and sank into depression soon after.

"Before his cancer diagnosis, he suffered from tuberculosis," she said.

"I was the one who always took him for his medical appointments.

"We would talk on the phone every single day. If I forgot to call him, he would call me for a chat and it would brighten up his day."

BURDEN

The mother of a 15-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy added: "After the operation on his gallbladder, he told me that he didn't want to be a burden to us.

"I reminded him that it's our responsibility as children to take care of him and all he had to do was remain hopeful.

"After his death, I cried every single day for a year whenever I was alone. I could not even stop tearing when I was on the public bus.

"At home, I had to hold back my tears to put on a brave front for my mother."

Her mother moved in with Ms Tan and her family after the incident.

Ms Tan said she is grateful to her husband of 19 years for helping her get back on her feet.

"If I win the Mrs Singapore title, I will use this platform to help people who are undergoing depression," she said.

"It's very important that people speak out when they are troubled.

"Had we known of my father's troubles, perhaps he would still be alive today."

She found her Prince Charming

Life coach and image consultant thought nobody would want to marry her because of her cancer

COMMITTED: Mrs Shilpi Dahiya Atri with her husband Saurav Atri.

Fairy tales sometimes do come true.

And Prince Charming exists and you will meet him when you least expect it.

That was pretty much the case with Mrs Shilpi Dahiya Atri, 31.

Born and raised in Haryana, India,she became a Singapore Airlines flight attendant in 2007 and enjoyed her career.

But in May 2013, her world collapsed after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

She subsequently had two operations - to remove a cyst and an ovary and fallopian tube. She did not have to undergo chemotherapy as her cancer was detected in its earlier stages.

"I still have one ovary but I have to go for check-ups every three months and take the cancer marker test," Mrs Atri told The New Paper.

In August 2013, after recovering for a few months in Mumbai, she returned to Singapore to get back into the swing of things.

LOVE

Mrs Atri attended a social gathering with some friends, but looking for love was the last thing on her mind.

"At that time, I didn't want to get married. I deleted that from my mind and removed all expectations of finding a husband who would accept me for who I am," she said.

"Why would anyone want to marry someone with health problems that could come back at any time in life?"

Enter Mr Saurav Atri from Delhi.

The 32-year-old director of talent sourcing, who attended Mrs Singapore & Classic Mrs Singapore press conference with his wife last Saturday, told TNP he approached her at another gathering months before.

He was smitten but backed off because he mistakenly thought she was married.

When he saw her the second time, he cleared the air with her about her marital status and the rest is history.

The couple, who are both applying for Singapore permanent residency, got married at the end of 2014.

Mrs Atri, who quit flying after marriage and is now a life coach and image consultant, is not bothered by the fact that they might not be able to have children due to her condition.

"I think there is so much more to life. Not having kids is not the end," she said.

"I realised that if I am living every day, especially with him, life is so beautiful as it is and kids would just be an added blessing.

"I want to inspire women because when I was in the hospital bed, I thought my life was over and I would never recover from my problems.

"But I know now that a lot of people are stuck but they don't want to get up. With determination, passion and courage, I think anybody, if they have hope, can achieve anything."


Why would anyone want to marry someone with health problems that could come back at any time in life?

- Mrs Shilpi Dahiya Atri

Single mum raises 4 kids, pays $900 rent on $1,500 salary

- Ms Evy Taher (above)

She was working as a receptionist at a hotel in Tanjung Pinang on Bintan Island, Indonesia, where she eventually fell for its Singaporean manager.

In 1986, Indonesian national Evy Taher moved to Singapore to marry him and start a family together.

But their relationship started to unravel and she filed for divorce after 11 years of marriage.

Ms Taher and their four children continued to live with him under the same roof for the next two years as they had nowhere else to go.

But things eventually came to a head and she had no choice but to leave, the young ones in tow.

She said her oldest child was 14 at the time and the youngest just five.

A housewife then, Ms Evy panicked. She had no money, no resources and no family in Singapore.

I want to show women that you don't need a husband to be the best you can be in your life.- Ms Evy Taher (above)

She eventually got a job as a beauty therapist, earning about $1,500 a month. She shared a rented room in an HDB flat with her kids for two years.

Now 49, the single mum told TNP: "I couldn't even take any of my personal belongings because we couldn't fit everything into one small room.

"I just took some clothes, my children's school uniforms and books, and we moved."

RENTAL

Ms Evy barely got by after paying a rent of $900 every month.

Thankfully, their landlady helped out with meals and Ms Evy's oldest son would look after the younger siblings when she was at work.

Things eventually improved and the beauty specialist, now a Singapore permanent resident, has settled into a bigger rented flat.

"Things are much better because my children - aged 27, 26, 21 and 18 - are grown up, so they help out financially," she said.

"All of them are good. I'm grateful to have them because they never made things difficult for me.

"After polytechnic, my oldest son started working and now he's an executive in an IT firm."

Ms Evy, who has lost contact with her ex-husband since moving out, added: "Through the downs in my life, I have emerged stronger and more patient.

"I believe that through the hardships, I will gain success in future.

"Through Classic Mrs Singapore, I want to inspire women with my story and show them that you can overcome all obstacles in your life and emerge as someone successful.

"I want to show women that you don't need a husband to be the best you can be in your life.

"I have learnt that independence is very important."

Bouncing back from life's setbacks

Her world crashed when hubby died while she was pregnant

Mrs Singapore & Classic Mrs Singapore 2016 finalists tell NATASHA MEAH (natmeah@sph.com.sg) how they overcome the curveballs life throws at them

Ms Clara Lee (above)

For a year, just over 20 years ago, she would subconsciously go to the 12th storey of her HDB block, climb onto the parapet and talk to her late husband as her legs dangled beneath her.

And for four of those months, she was pregnant.

In 1995, when Ms Clara Lee was five months pregnant, she received the tragic news that her husband had died in a car accident in Germany where he had travelled to for work.

He was a 29-year-old convention photographer.

Ms Lee, 49, told The New Paper at the Mrs Singapore & Classic Mrs Singapore press conference last Saturday: "It was very shocking for me as we had been married for less than a year. Everything was so short-lived.

"I was so happy to be in my new home and looking forward to having a happy family with him."

Widowed and feeling lost, she fell into a state of depression.

I want other women to know that no matter what happens in life, you have to be benevolent and willing to face all obstacles.- Ms Clara Lee (above)

"Every other night, I would climb onto the parapet and as I looked down, it felt like I could see his face and I would start talking to him," recalled the management operations executive.

The single mum, who was an office clerk back then, took on great financial responsibility as she became the sole breadwinner of her family, supporting her young child and elderly mother.

FREE

"Soon after I gave birth, I felt like I was out of my state of depression and free of my worries because now I have my son growing up to look forward to and I can still have a semi-happy family," said Ms Lee.

But her son suffered from asthma and had an excessive amount of mucus in his chest. He was also born with a fractured collar bone.

"He was admitted to KK Women's and Children's Hospital for a few months for doctors to monitor his mucus levels," said Ms Lee, whose life savings went towards her son's medical bills.

"The doctors told me if the mucus wasn't extracted, my son would die.

"Life was tough. I kept asking myself, 'Why have I been given this treatment?' I didn't want to go on living."

"But my mother stuck with me through thick and thin. She told me I had to be strong because I am both father and mother to my son," added Ms Lee, whose mum is 90 years old.

"We have to be strong so he can have a future. Without her, I wouldn't be here today.

"The last time I went to the parapet, she took my son there and said to me: 'You want to jump? I'll let you take him with you. After that, I will join you.'

"Suddenly, I was awoken from my daze by my son's cries and I realised what I was doing.

"I no longer go there because I've seen how much it was hurting my mother."

Ms Lee said her son, who is now 21 and serving his national service, is thankful for her sacrifices and has never missed out on parental attention.

Now in its 18th edition, Mrs Singapore & Classic Mrs Singapore is a pageant that has developed into one that provides a voice and a platform for modern-day married women, allowing them the opportunity to do their part in contributing to society.

The finals will be held on May 7.

On joining Classic Mrs Singapore, Ms Lee said: "I'm happy and proud of myself that I'm able to walk out of my old shadow.

"I want other women to know that no matter what happens in life, you have to be benevolent and willing to face all obstacles.

"By stepping up, you will be able to counter all difficulties."

Drugs 
in EPL?

UK's Sunday Times claims in an expose that players from Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester given performance-enhancing drugs by a London doctor

Players from Chelsea and Arsenal are apparently using performance-enhancement drugs.

Swimming, tennis, athletics and many other sports have all come under scrutiny recently for dope related allegations.

Now, add football - the most beautiful game of all - and worse still in, arguably, the top league in the world.

English Premier League footballers were among 150 sports stars prescribed banned performance-enhancing drugs, a London doctor claimed in an expose by The Sunday Times.

The newspaper, which has been at the heart of several doping exposes involving international athletics over the last 12 months, conducted an undercover operation on London-based anti-ageing doctor Mark Bonar.

PHOTOS: AFP, TNP FILE

The 38-year-old medic claims to have had a network of "secret clients" who included footballers from Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester City.

The broadsheet said Bonar named athletes from several different sports.

But those contacted by the paper either denied being treated by him or declined to comment.

The newspaper was quick to add they have no independent evidence that he treated the unnamed players.

NO EVIDENCE

There is also no evidence the clubs were aware of Bonar's relationship with any players or drug use by them.

Bonar, who was filmed covertly, is heard telling reporters he had also worked with an England cricketer, British Tour de France cyclists, a British boxing champion, tennis players and martial arts competitors.

"In the past six years, he has treated more than 150 sports people from the UK and abroad variously with banned substances such as erythropoietin (EPO), steroids and human growth hormone, and the sports performance improvements were phenomenal," the report said.

In the newspaper's footage, Bonar is filmed saying: "Some of these treatments I used are banned on the professional circuit.

"It's how you do it," he said, adding: "You want to do it off cycle or between races.

"The truth of the matter is drugs are in sport. What I do is prescribe responsibly and I try to keep my patients the optimum level of normal."

UK Anti-Doping (Ukad), the agency responsible for protecting British sport from drug abuse, confirmed they were aware of Bonar, but said they had no power to investigate him.

Ukad said it interviewed a sportsman in April and May 2014 who, in hoping to reduce his sanction, provided them with more than 100 names, 69 of which related to sport.

Bonar was among the names and this was the only time he had been brought to their attention, it said.

The sportsman told Ukad that Bonar prescribed him with EPO and testosterone and alleged he was providing performance-enhancing drugs to an unnamed boxer.

Ukad said they went back to the sportsman, but he did not provide further evidence that could substantiate such claims.

Bonar told the reporters that athletes knew about his services through word of mouth.

"I don't really advertise... I don't want that media scrutiny, that kind of (thing), you know, coming down on you," he said.

"I do not 'dope' or treat patients for the sole purpose of performance enhancement even though these treatments may enhance performance as a secondary effect."

Britain's sports minister John Whittingdale said he was "shocked" by the allegations and has demanded an urgent independent investigation.

- AFP.


"Arsenal Football Club are extremely disappointed by the publication of these false claims which are without foundation. The Sunday Times knows that these allegations are baseless, but has preferred to publish regardless. The club take their responsibilities in this area very seriously and our players are well aware of what is expected."

— An Arsenal spokesman, speaking to the Daily Mail

"The claims The Sunday Times put to us are false and entirely without foundation. Chelsea Football Club have never used the services of Dr Bonar and has no knowledge or record of any of our players having been treated by him or using his services. Chelsea FC players are regularly and rigorously tested by the relevant authorities."

— A Chelsea spokesman, speaking to the Daily Mail

"Leicester City Football Club are extremely disappointed that The Sunday Times has published unsubstantiated allegations referring to players from clubs including Leicester City when, on its own admission, it has insufficient evidence to support the claims."

— A statement from the club

Teen fan feels faint after hugging Charlize Theron

Cast of The Huntsman: Winter's War make local appearance for red carpet premiere last night

ALL SMILES: (From left) Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and Charlize Theron.
FAMOUS: South African beauty Charlize Theron giving autographs during the red carpet premiere of The Huntsman: Winter’s War at Universal Studios Singapore.

Waiting more than eight hours in the sweltering heat paid off.

Student Constance Thum not only got a photograph with her idol, Charlize Theron, she even received a bear hug from the Oscar-winning actress.

"She hugged me twice," Constance told The New Paper.

The 16-year-old student was surprised that Theron took notice of the placard she had made to welcome the South African beauty.

It was a simple yellow card with the words "Charlize, can I get a photo with you?" in black marker.

Theron was at the red carpet premiere of The Huntsman: Winter's War at Universal Studios Singapore (USS) in Resorts World Sentosa last night. The movie opens here on April 14.

 

 

The 40-year-old actress was joined by co-stars Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain.

Constance was so overwhelmed by the experience that she felt faint. USS staff later took her to the first aid room.

A fan of Theron's for four years since she watched the actress in 2012's Prometheus, Constance said she could not stop crying after the hug and was "hyperventilating".

The heat also got the better of her, she said, adding that she was probably slightly dehydrated.

Constance was one of the earliest fans waiting for the Hollywood A-listers to show up, arriving at 10am to get a good spot. The stars did not arrive until 7pm.

ECSTATIC: 16-year-old student Constance Thum (left) had the opportunity to take a selfie with her idol, Hollywood actress Charlize Theron, last night. PHOTO: CONSTANCE THUM

Theron reprises her evil Queen Ravenna in the sequel to Snow White And The Huntsman (2012).

Hemsworth picks up his axe again as the titular hero, Eric the Huntsman. He and Chastain's warrior Sara, take up arms against Queen Ravenna and her sister Freya (Emily Blunt), who are attempting to enslave the entire land.

The Australian actor was clearly the favourite among the trio at the red carpet event.

 

 

Fans were yelling for Hemsworth and trying to catch his attention for autographs and selfies.

Local blogger Xiaxue was disappointed that she did not manage to score a photo with him.

"It's sad that I didn't get a selfie with Chris," she told TNP.

But she managed to take a photo with Chastain, which was "better than nothing".

AMAZING

For Miss Kendall Dowell, a US student at the Singapore American School, seeing Hemsworth up close and personal was "an amazing experience".

She added that the stars "looked so beautiful in person".

Indeed, it is not common to see Hollywood power players on our tiny island.

And to see them brave the heat, particularly Hemsworth, who was in a suit, to do their best to make the fans happy, was admirable.

 

 

The actors were clearly perspiring as their minders had to take them aside to pass them tissues. The female stars had to get their make-up touched up a few times as well.

One member of the staff even passed Hemsworth a towel to wipe his perspiration off.

For the stars, the heat may be what they remember about Singapore.

But for the fans, getting to their beloved actors in person is something they will hold on to for a very long time, with Constance describing her experience as "one of the most eventful evenings ever".

 

Finding love while saving lives

Blood donation on first date leads to couple's wedding photo shoot at blood donation centre

UNITED: Mr Ong Chin Hock and Miss Yeo Zhi Wei, who donated blood at Bloodbank@Dhoby Ghaut on their first date, had their wedding shoot at the blood donation centre last week.
UNITED: Mr Ong Chin Hock and Miss Yeo Zhi Wei, who donated blood at Bloodbank@Dhoby Ghaut on their first date, had their wedding shoot at the blood donation centre last week.

They say marriage is about making sacrifices.

And this couple, who will be getting married in September, have been sacrificing their blood, literally, at blood donation centres.

Their first date was to one of these centres to donate blood.

That is why they had their wedding shoot last week at a blood donation centre - because that was where they found love.

On their first date in May 2013, stockbroker Ong Chin Hock and nurse Yeo Zhi Wei, both 27, made an impromptu decision to donate blood at BloodBank@Dhoby Ghaut.

The centre is run by the Singapore Red Cross Society together with the Health Sciences Authority.

Last Tuesday, the lovebirds held their wedding photo shoot at the same blood donation centre, something even their wedding photographer had never done before.

The couple, who will be getting married on Sept 10, have bought a Build-to-Order flat together.

They will be staying with Mr Ong's family temporarily as the flat will be ready only in 2018.

The New Paper joined the couple at the photo shoot.

MEANINGFUL

Miss Yeo said the centre was significant to their love story.

She said: "I wanted our photo shoot to be meaningful to us. The place had to be unique from other wedding shoots.

"When we talk about how we first met, we both agreed this place was special because till now, he still jokes that I 'cheated' him into donating blood on our first date."

Mr Ong said it was Miss Yeo's idea to donate blood on their first date.

The couple, who met on May 24, 2013, through a social portal on the Social Development Network, had just finished watching Fast & Furious 6 at the cinema.

Mr Ong said they were at the entrance of Dhoby Ghaut MRT station when they were handed a flier encouraging people to donate blood.

He chuckled: "At first, I thought she was kidding.

"I hesitated a bit but ended up agreeing to it because I thought it was a good idea."

The time they spent registering at the counter gave them a chance to get to know each other better.

Said Miss Yeo: "We started off chatting about our past experiences donating blood. It was like an ice-breaker."

Miss Yeo, who has been a regular donor since her days as a polytechnic student, has donated blood more than 10 times.

She said: "It is always better to give than to receive."

Mr Ong, on the other hand, had only donated twice before meeting Miss Yeo.

But he has become a regular donor because of her.

Miss Yeo said: "It has become part of our lifestyle as a couple. We donate blood together when we go on dates as well."

Mr Ong's mother was shocked they wanted their wedding photo shoot at a blood donation centre.

Said Mr Ong: "But once we explained to our parents the significance of the place to us, she was fine with it."

Their wedding photographer, Mr Cheah Meng Siang, 39, had never done a photo shoot in a blood bank in his 15 years as a wedding photographer.

Mr Cheah said: "Usually, couples who want a unique photo shoot will choose a school or workplace they met at.

"But to have a wedding photo shoot at a blood bank is very special."

FIRST TIME

This is the first request the Singapore Red Cross has received for a wedding photo shoot to be held at one of its blood donation centres.

Its secretary-general and chief executive, Mr Benjamin William, said: "We're very glad that Mr Ong and Miss Yeo have chosen the blood bank to be part of their special day.

"Not unlike a favourite sport, a hobby or a visit to the spa, blood donation can easily be a three-monthly routine for all healthy individuals.

"We hope that many others will follow in their footsteps."


OTHER UNIQUE WEDDINGS

2014

Mr Azmi Danuri and Madam Ezaida Abdul Rahman held a Star Wars-themed wedding dinner at Hotel Re!, in addition to having in a traditional Malay wedding ceremony.

The couple, who were then in their late 20s, were dressed as a Jedi and Padme Amidala.

They had a Death Star wedding cake and the bridesmaids' dresses were inspired by Darth Vader, Princess Leia and R2-D2.

Their son, who is now about six months old, is called Luq Mohammad Anaqin, after the Star Wars characters Luke and Anakin Skywalker.

2008

Engineer Jai Angel Nama and Madam Adriana Nadine Reyne, then a 31-year-old sales manager, wore what the groom called the best suit of all, their birthday suits.

The result was a photograph of the couple with their backs to the camera, showing off their physique and tattoos.

Mr Jai and his wife used their half-nude picture to welcome guests to their wedding banquet at Novotel Clarke Quay.

Need for blood

The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) aims to collect 120,000 bags of blood this year.

Mr Benjamin William, secretary-general and chief executive of SRC, said that with new hospitals opening, coupled with a rapidly ageing population, the demand for blood and blood products is projected to grow at a rate of 3 to 5 per cent every year.

He said: "An ageing population means that more will require a blood transfusion due to increased prevalence of chronic diseases, the need for surgery and cancer treatments.

"It also shrinks our donor pool as more of our regular blood donors develop age-related health complications and will no longer be able to donate blood.

"Therefore, it is important that we continue to attract new and young donors like Mr Ong and Miss Yeo to ensure we continue to have sufficient blood to meet all the blood needs of patients in Singapore."

WHERE TO 
DONATE BLOOD

Bloodbank@HSA

Health Sciences Authority (opposite Outram Park MRT Station) 11, Outram Road

Bloodbank@Dhoby Ghaut

Dhoby Xchange (near Exit B) 
11, Orchard Road #B1-05 to 09

Bloodbank@Woodlands

Woodlands Civic Centre (opposite Causeway Point) 900, South Woodlands Drive #05-07

Bloodbank@Westgate Tower

Westgate Tower (Jurong East MRT Station, exit D, walk through Westgate Mall) 1, Gateway Drive #10-01 to 05

For more information, go to www.redcross.sg or www.facebook.com/sgredcross

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