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Today, we meet an extraordinary couple – Sudha and Ram. They have been married 40 years, after having been introduced by their parents who were family friends. Despite the challenges they have both faced in their life together, the couple radiated positivity as we sat down to talk about their cancer journey.

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In 2005, Ram was diagnosed with tongue cancer and thanks to early detection and a consequent operation, he is now fully recovered, with a new lease of life.

 

When Ram was diagnosed, both Sudha and their son were his pillars of strength and he did not feel alone in his battle. Through the difficulties he bravely overcame, Ram had always found love, encouragement, and support with Sudha at his side.

 

Then, when Sudha was later diagnosed with breast cancer, Ram went to the wet market each morning to purchase fresh groceries to cook healthy meals for her while she was undergoing chemotherapy.

 

They never missed each other’s medical appointments, even the routine follow-ups, leaning on each other through their cancer battles. Their shared journey, along with the physical and mental support they received from Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) have made them realise how vital it is to lend a helping hand to others who are going through treatment and the road to recovery from cancer.

 

When Sudha, a breast cancer survivor since 2010, retired from the corporate world, she decided to do something that involved helping others in the cancer community because of her cancer experience. After a year in retirement, she took up a job at SCS that allowed her to achieve that. Sudha has worked in SCS’ Welfare Services department for 6 years and she is thankful to have found such a fulfilling role with SCS. The welfare service department helps cancer patients in-need who seek financial assistance and aid for their treatment, based on recommendations from their doctors and hospitals.

 

She also volunteers in her free time, as it brings her great joy to meet and interact with other cancer survivors to help them in their path to recovery. She says volunteering allows her to share their experience while hearing stories from other survivors. She finds meaning from being a part of their journeys through this trying time when they need support and care the most.

 

Sudha is also part of the SCS Bishana Ladies Group, a club formed specifically for female cancer survivors which holds regular classes, activities and workshops. Through this, she participates in Zumba classes and the ‘Be Hype & Be Happy’ dance workout classes. She has even put on performances for patients at hospitals as a part of these programmes. Ram has retired and is now an enthusiastic and frequent volunteer with the SCS, willing to help with work required by any department at the SCS office.  He is also member of the SCS New Voice Club, which is for patients who have undergone any form of treatment or surgery for nasopharyngeal cancers. Speech practice sessions conducted by its members have enabled many to regain their ability to communicate with others. 

Most importantly, Sudha and Ram both find that support from family and friends through the cancer journey is most essential. Their relationship and steadfast support for each other is an inspiration to us all. Thank you for showing us what true love is.

 

Both Ram and Sudha are involved in volunteering for major SCS events such as Race Against Cancer, Relay For Life, a global movement that rallies the local community to raise funds for cancer survivors, remember the lives lost and fights back against the disease, and  Terry Fox Run. They were active participants of the Chingay parade and also part of the SCS Dragon Boat team 'Purple Dragons' before Covid.

 

Externally, they go for walks, jumping exercises and Sudha is still involved in pole dancing. She had performed at various events under the group known as 'Rose Diamonds' consisting of cancer survivors, seniors and supporters. Ram and their son are very proud of her and attend all her performances.

 

She says, "It is about knowing that you are not alone and there are so many others together with us. It’s a sad fact that cancer is on the increase but to know that people are not alone, and you don’t have to fight this alone is uplifting."

 

Ram loves to see the joy in people’s faces at events and that’s what motivates him. He takes part in a variety of volunteering activities, from helping set up events, to distributing leaflets to counselling other patients who are going through cancer treatment.

 

He recalls an instance where a patient with tongue cancer was refusing to go through the operation out of fear that he would not be able to speak, and how he offered his counsel and spoke to the patient to explain how he had previously gone through the same procedure, ultimately managing to convince the patient to go through with the operation.

 

Both Ram and Sudha say that they have been each other’s pillar of support and strength throughout their marriage, especially during their cancer journey. They have come a full circle from being cancer patients to survivors to volunteering their time to help others.

 

The encouragement and support they receive from SCS as cancer survivors have left their mark on both of them and strongly inculcated a sense of paying it forward. This is why they find volunteering is such a rewarding experience. This shared common passion for giving back has brought them closer together.

 

Their parting message is to go for your regular check-ups, to always be positive, find the support you need enjoy life to the fullest and NEVER give up.

 

Article Written by Swatilekha Sen

Thinking of volunteering? Learn more about SCS’ volunteering opportunities at https://bit.ly/volunteer-scs

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