A Singaporean mother battling stage four ovarian cancer is hanging on for as long as she can and has made an appeal for public donations to fund her expensive treatments and what she believes will be her impending funeral.
Tam Chek Ming, 46, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer known as “Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma” after undergoing major surgery in April 2015 to remove a 12.5cm cyst.
She underwent painful chemotherapy that saw her lose her hair, vomit in bed and ended up unable to play with her son, who is now five years old only.
The single mother and sole breadwinner thought her ordeal would be over when treatment ceased.
However, in September 2015, her stage 1C ovarian clear cell cancer grew aggressively to stage 4.
So aggressive was her cancer, it has proven resistant to the strongest of chemotherapy treatments and has spread to her heart area, lungs, liver, spine and caused multiple growths in her abdomen, compressing a nerve resulting in permanent numbness in her left thigh.
Now, she says she is living for as long as she can and is planning ahead as she believes she might pass on soon, leaving her child behind.
Tam’s doctor said any treatment at this point would merely be palliative and not curative.
Immunotherapy would cost approximately S$139,000 a year, while medicine costs between S$6,500 and S$8,000 per dose and is administered thrice a week.
Tam is a subsidised patient under the MediShield Life scheme, Medifund and the Medication Assistance Fund (for Avastin).
But she does not have any private health insurance and neither is she covered under the CPF Dependent Protection Scheme.
She said: “I live in a small, bare-bones, 45-sqm, (1 bedroom, 1 hall) HDB flat. I have sold off everything that I can sell, in order to survive month-to-month.”
She also said she often skips meals so that her son, who was born premature and underweight, would not go hungry.
The funds she is currently raising will go towards her medical bills, household bills, basic necessities, nutritious food, journeys to and fro the hospital, bank debts left behind by her estranged husband, daily living expenses, hospice care in the near future, and most tragically, her upcoming funeral expenses.
She told Give.asia: “To set aside sufficient cash reserves for my poor mother to sustain herself and enable her to care for my young son when I pass on, as they will be in urgent need in the many years to come.”
Tam also said:
“I need to survive this fight for my life, for at least another few more years in order to stay with my son. He is just too young to lose his mom.”
“I am appealing out of desperation as I have exhausted all my social connections and charity appeals. I have sold off anything that is of value in my small flat.”
“Please help me. Any help, no matter how big or small, will make a big difference to me and my son.”