Pole-dancing mother of two battles cancer
Today is World Cancer Day. Two people fighting the disease share their experience to raise awareness of cancer and to empower others
"I'm a warrior, not a survivor."
That is Ms Jasmine Han's motto.
One of the founders of Slap dance studio, the 40-year-old, who has breast cancer, not only runs the studio - managing 25 workers handling more than 1,500 pole-dancing students, she is also a mother of two children aged five and seven.
Ms Han herself is an avid pole dancer and was an instructor for 10 years until she was diagnosed with breast cancer last November.
She is in Stage 1C and is undergoing chemotherapy. She had a mastectomy last month.
"I only found out I had cancer when I went for a check-up after a miscarriage," said Ms Han.
"My energy level was so low in the first week after my first chemotherapy (session). "
She never lost hope or stopped dancing. She says she feels free when pole dancing, as it requires her to fully concentrate on the music and tricks.
The support system of family, friends and staff has helped her maintain a normal lifestyle.
"I'm never alone during visits to the doctor. I always have a listening ear without fearing judgement and am very grateful for my circle of care," she said.
Ms Han shared some tips on how she juggles her responsibilities.
She said: "I recommend cooking and cleaning as much as you can when your energy allows you to and stock up as much food as possible for quick prepping."
She stressed the importance of choosing a doctor, because she describes it as a long-term relationship both parties have to be comfortable with.
"It's important to look for a doctor who adopts new techniques and methods. My oncologist, Dr Karmen Wong, picks the right treatments for me based on my individual case," she added.
She shares her life lessons:
- Breathe- it is the only thing that keeps us living.
- Surround yourself with the right people.
- Take things one day at a time, because you never know what will happen next.
She also emphasised the importance of having insurance and for women to go for regular check-ups.
Members of the public can sign up for cancer insurance with the likes of Income, OCBC Bank and FWD Singapore, and Ms Han added: "You don't have to wait till you are 40 to go for mammograms."
Researcher turned hawker survives cancer twice
Three months before his A-level examinations, Mr Tan Peng Yang was told he had cancer.
At 18, he was diagnosed with an early stage of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow.
Mr Tan, now 28, told The New Paper: "My parents took it harder than me. It was the first time I saw my dad cry."
His hawker parents also struggled financially due to the costly treatments.
He said: "I was a young and ignorant boy, so I was not that affected by the disease. I would listen to the doctor and go through the treatments, and as long as I did those things, I felt that everything was fine."
Despite having to take at least 10 pills daily and going through two rounds of chemotherapy, Mr Tan managed to take his A-level exams in 2010.
He then had a bone marrow transplant, and after a year, his cancer was in remission.
But things took a turn for the worse in 2015, when he was in his last year at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Science.
Doctors discovered he had myeloid sarcoma, a rare disease that is the initial manifestation of relapse in a patient with previously diagnosed AML. It was found on a testicle and he underwent surgery to remove it.
He was in the middle of his final-year project, doing cancer research at the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), when the relapse occurred.
"The second time was tougher. I was depressed and felt like committing suicide," said Mr Tan. There were days when he would not eat or do anything because he had lost hope.
Mr Tan said the cancer spread to his stomach, and he had to go through nine rounds of chemotherapy.
He said: "Luckily, I had my family by my side."
After nine months, his cancer was beaten into remission.
Mr Tan graduated and worked full-time as a cancer researcher at NCCS. He quit his job last December after two years as he felt he could not see any tangible outcomes. He now helps his parents with their fishball noodle stall in Jurong West.
He will be participating in this year's Run For Hope event on Feb 17 to raise awareness for cancer research.
"I believe everything happens for a reason and it is important to be positive. Things will always work out in the end," he said.