“I can’t believe that I was taking handfuls of medications when I never even had flu or pain medications in my 67 years of living” …

Shock would be an understatement for Looi Ah Siew, now 78, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I have been living an active and healthy lifestyle! I eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, no junk food, no oily food, drink few litres of water every day, go walking to keep myself fit, and I don’t even smoke! I was in total disbelief and could not accept the doctor’s words,” said Looi when met at the LB AAC @ Ang Mo Kio 318 recently.

Her health has been her priority since childhood. Now, being a member of the AAC, she checks her vitals using the IM-Healthy station every time she comes in.

IM-Healthy, a one-stop, self-service vital health measurement station is developed by LB and located at all 10 LB AACs. The station easily records seniors’ health components such as blood pressure, heart rate, muscle mass, body fat and more. The seniors can track changes in their health status or quickly detect potential health issues.

Early Detection is Key

“Take your medical check-ups seriously and do it annually. Illness can just pounce on anyone. No matter how well you take care of yourself, it might just come knock on your door. What matters most is early detection, I survived this because I found out early!” she exclaimed.

Looi felt a small and hard lump the size of a pea on her left breast when she woke up from an afternoon nap. She didn’t think much of it until the next morning when she felt the lump again. Slightly worried, she spoke to her daughter who immediately rushed her to the hospital.

The breast cancer was still in its initial stage, and the doctor immediately scheduled for a surgery to be done within the next two days!

Courage Amidst Trials and Tribulations

The surgery was a success with the lump deftly removed by the doctor! That’s when the real struggle began, said Looi, referring to her daunting chemotherapy sessions.

“I still want to look good even though I was in horrible pain. I remember adjusting my hair and saw a clump of hair come off my scalp! I couldn’t let Cancer take this away from me, so I went to the salon and shaved my head bald. I felt better as I took control of the situation instead of succumbing to it,” said Looi defiantly.

While undergoing intensive chemotherapy, along with other treatments and therapies, Looi struggled with other side effects as well.

“Even though I am known for eating healthy and clean, I am a foodie! During this period, it was a torture to eat anything! It was either too salty, too bitter, too sour, or even tasteless. Losing my love for food broke me further,” said Looi of the ordeal that continued for over a year.

In the Midst of Darkness, Light Persists

Looi said the ones that shone light when she was emotionally and physically drained, were her husband, children, and grandchildren.

“They were my literal pillars! I barely could get out of bed and stand, one of them would be always by my side to assist me in everything. Even my visits to the doctor became a family trip, their shenanigans putting a smile on my face,” said Looi as a wide grin etched across her face, reminiscing the memories of her caring and jolly family members.

Life’s Unending Challenges 

Life, alas, had more gruelling plans for her. Looi was advised to remove her womb barely two years after receiving a clean bill of health by her doctor. She had begun spotting post-menopause and it was deemed as a sign that cancer might recur in her womb.

“I thought I was finally getting a break from hospitals and here comes another curveball to anchor me there. Anyway, I don’t need the womb anymore at this age, so I agreed for the removal. After the successful surgery, we thought that would be it – the final instalment,” said Looi, while laughing at her predicament.

Unfortunately, two years later, Looi started having backache and constant pain in the hip area, unable to walk in proper posture. She couldn’t sleep in one position for an extended period and woke up multiple times at night.

This went on for a few weeks until Looi finally gave in and decided to see her doctor again.

“I was told the bottom of my spine was getting softer and needed to be removed. There was also a growth on my hipbone. Again, I had to go under the knife. This time was extra scary as the doctor said I might possibly never walk again post-surgery,” said Looi.

On the Road to Recovery

Her recovery period was a challenging one, and with the tremendous support of her family and her sheer willpower, Looi strived mentally and physically to succeed.

Beyond her physiotherapy sessions, she pushed herself to exercise frequently. Her gutsy efforts paid off when she was walking with the aid of her crutches within few weeks post-surgery!

“I lost a lot of my muscle mass during the cancer treatment. My doctor said the more I walk, the more my muscles would strengthen and grow. I had to regain what I lost and gain more. I promised myself to never give up and was determined to do all I can. I have many things to do and look out for; I want to live my life,” said Looi, adding that she made walking part of her daily routine along with the physical activities at the AAC.

Staying Fit & Active 

Looi has been an active member at the AAC for more than a decade, making her one of the more familiar faces here. From the Rummy-O games to the Zumba classes, Looi enjoys her time here with her friends.

“Being a mother, I have always been at the beck and call of everyone, but these incidents made me the centre of attention – the tables were turned. My family’s unending love strengthened me physically and mentally,” said Looi, adding that her outlook of life will always remain positive.

“I have my strong will to survive and will do all I must – no matter the number of medications I must take or the hours of exercises I must complete. The thought of my future, especially involving my grandchildren motivates me. I want to be there for them when they grow up. I am happy I made it this far and I will go on further!” said Looi valiantly.

We hope that these stories would inspire you to reach out and touch the lives of others.

If you would like to share your thoughts on these stories, please feel free to email us at cp@lb.org.sg

Be A Volunteer

Refer a Senior

If you know of seniors who could use our services, you can help by referring them to us. 

Click here to find out more.