Great Eastern Shares My Story

An outtake shot at the Great Eastern shoot

You might have seen the full page Great Eastern ad in today’s Sunday Times and Lianhe. When GE asked if I would share my story (vs them hiring a model to pose for their Early Payout Critical Care ad) I did take a while to think about it. On the one hand, would people think my “sad case” is being exploited? On the other, isn’t this what “creating public awareness” is all about? Getting people to see the importance of really being covered for every possible circumstance, to the best of your ability.

I wish someone had done this for me when I still afford new policies. So, with the cautious agreement of Mr Threez, I said yes.

The photo shoot was fun. I always enjoy having photos taken of or with my kids. I brought Middle B because she was the only one who didn’t have school till 5pm that day—also, she’s done this a few times and would probably be the most comfortable in front of the camera.

But even for someone like her, it was hard to pose to the satisfaction of the photographer Stanley Koh, whom I must say, has some beautiful work under his belt. You know the universal rule of photographers: “No animals or children”. But Stanley did a great job.

A light touch of blusher for Middle B

Middle B enjoys the makeup part of every shoot. We had the privilege of having the cheerful Ivan Hoo of In Square Salon pretty us up. Turns out we both know Grace Lee of Nuyou – Ivan has known her even before she became a writer at Nuyou! It’s always fun to chat with industry people—I don’t get to goss much so this kind of intravenous information is always fun in small doses!

The idea of the shoot was to show the life I now have—enjoying moments with my children. That part of it was not a “fake photo” at all. Now that I’ve come out of my cancer experience (tomorrow 25 April will mark the 10th month since my operation) I make sure I treasure every moment I have with my kids and my husband. Each one is a bonus to me.

As Great Eastern worked with me on the advertorial the last two weeks, I have to admit I felt sadder and sadder reading all the benefits of the policy. If I had met someone who told me that my policies had this huge gap, that I wasn’t covered for early stage cancer or any illness, Great Eastern would be talking to someone else today.

But if I want to see something changed—other people not having to go through what I did—sometimes, I just have to be the “sacrificial lamb”.

I have to say GE’s EPCC policy is really good. It covers the buyer not only for early stage critical illnesses (not just cancer, but heart disease, diabetes and other common ailments) but it allows you to make multiple claims with no waiting period in between. My mother was a classic case of this — she had been scheduled for her mastectomy, but when they checked her out to ascertain she could survive the operation the doctors discovered that one of her major arteries to the heart was nearly fully blocked. She might have needed a heart operation — EPCC would have been a good policy to have in this sort of case.

Plus, Great Eastern is giving a 30% discount now. I cannot begin to say how I wish I could buy this plan! But I hope it’s not too late for other women like me—or men for that matter. While you have the chance, get covered, please. I hope people read the ad and do something about it. Judging by the number of DCIS and Stage 1 cases people have told me about in the last year, I think getting covered for early stage illness is definitely a worthwhile investment.

I find that God has a lovely sense of poetry. That this ad came out today—Easter Sunday—is meaningful to me. Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected this day (actually Easter Monday but let’s celebrate anyway!) 2011 ago. I had cancer, but God gave me back my life—Jesus died for someone just like me. I am healed today, because He died and rose again. Blows my mind every time I think about it. Jesus was the “sacrificial lamb” for me.

The photo you see in the Great Eastern ad. I was telling Middle B a joke about three forgetful old women.

Knitted Boob, Anyone?

I know… some of you might be thinking I’ve forgotten I have a blog. It was a busy busy March!

The good news is: I did not get ONE SINGLE call about or from a breast cancer patient in three weeks! This is a record! And it cheers me up greatly, because previous to this, I was getting one or two calls, sometimes three in a week.

Last week I also got good news that a person who had 4th stage cancer responded well to chemo, so well she is going to resume work! Her courage and enthusiasm to live inspires me!

Last week my friend Yu-Mei sent me a great story that made me laugh till the hazelnut Americano I was drinking came out my nose.

It’s a story from News Tribune on how a bunch of knitting women in the US have a new project: knitting breasts for mastectomy patients who wear a prosthetic breast.

As featured in News Tribune, a blue knitted breast.

The idea was that a knitted breast would keep a breast cancer patient warmer in the cool winter/spring months than the usual cool-to-the-touch silicone prosthetic breast.

In case you have never seen a prosthetic breast, it’s usually triangular or tear-drop shaped and made from silicone, which feels and moves quite realistically when worn. My mom had two mastectomy bras and a pair of prosthetic breasts or breast forms. The forms are slotted into the bra and worn.

Pro: The breast forms looked good when she had clothes on, and if people didn’t know she had had a mastectomy, they never would have guessed, looking at her.

Con: The bra and prosthetic was heavy (back then they only had the heavy ones — these days there are lightweight alternatives) and my mom would sweat a lot wearing it. Worst was when she had to wear it the whole day while out — once I remember the prosthetic moved and she looked like her boob had shifted up to her collar.

Still, that there are options for breast cancer patients to improve their aesthetic appearance is a blessing. And that knitting groups have cancer patients in mind is also a wonderful thing.

For me I’m glad I had my replacement boob made out of my own flesh, not silicone or wool. I don’t think I could wear a wool boob — my eczema would totally flare up even though the ladies use very soft merino wool. I’m really happy with mine—its shape is very much like my old boob (only a little bigger and rounder, haha).