Fruit Of My Labour (No, Not The Kids)

Yesterday my friend Serene SMSed me with this message:

“Threez I’m buying the GE insurance policy that u r ‘fronting’ :)”

It made me really happy to read her message, because this was a friend who had not really thought about insurance or health checks before seeing me go through what I did. She’s in her twenties, a lovely, well-accomplished girl with a great future ahead of her. She deserves to be properly protected for any hiccups in life — nothing should stand in her way.

When I receive calls or emails or SMSes from friends and readers of this blog who are in their 20s and 30s and who have been diagnosed with breast, cervical or ovarian cancer, it crushes me. I have gotten over my initial shock that I was just 42 when I was diagnosed (I realise now, many, many women are diagnosed in their late 30s and 40s), but it still upsets me when a younger person gets the dreaded “Big C”.

I’ve been sharing with close friends about the products available out there — not because I get commission (though quite a few people have asked me to become a life planner, which makes me laugh out loud! I can’t even understand the documents!), but because if I can in some small way prevent anyone from having to go through what I did because of insufficient insurance, that would be a great reward for me.

In June, Great Eastern invited me to speak to their special group of planners who focus on families and women. The plans they promote help women to protect against health crises (not just cancer but heart disease, stroke and other common health issues), and also helps them plan for their children’s future.

Talking to Great Eastern's planners about the important role they play in helping women and families.

Catherine Ho, the lovely VP of marketing at Great Eastern, had me talk about my cancer experience and what I went through with my insurance. The core of the talk was 10 ways to handle cancer positively. I presented what I hoped was a funny yet honest account of what I experienced, and urged the planners to really get to know and understand their clients, because it is only through a real relationship that they can help these women.

Catherine Ho of Great Eastern (left) has a true passion for helping women that I greatly admire.

After the talk, I was very moved by the women and men who came up to talk to me. One lady told me, with tears in her eyes, that I was very blessed — her husband had not survived his cancer. A few asked me to explain what DCIS or Stage 0 cancer is, and why is it not always determined by the size of the tumour. They demonstrated a real desire to understand the disease — quite a number said they had clients who called them after a DCIS diagnosis, and they had no clue how to help. But after my sharing, they had a better idea.

Talking about life after cancer — major in the major stuff, like your family and kids.


Great Eastern’s Early Payout Critical Care was one of the first — if not the first to address this problem of early stage critical illness coverage. Before them, I had not heard of any other company having the cojones to insure against this — these days I am even more impressed because of the sheer number of DCIS and Stage 1 cases I come across through my blog and friends calling me. And once GE started, it seems the other insurance companies followed suit.

Serene’s not the first one to buy the EPCC plan since I started blogging and talking about it, and I hope she’s not the last. Just bridging that gap can make such a difference to a cancer patient. It’s peace of mind I would happily pay to have, if I could.

Adidas KOTR Singapore – Conquered!

Happy to see my love near the 10km mark at Mountbatten!

Truth be told, I was super nervous about the Adidas King Of The Road run last Sunday.

Why?

1. It was 16.8km long, the longest race I’d attempted. And I had not run more than 14.3km before this.

2. It was a morning run. My first. I had to wake up at 5.30am. That alone was worse than doing 200 pushups at a go.

3. I had nightmares the entire night. One of them was that Tan Jee Say won the Presidential Election.

4. My “time of the month” had been threatening to happen the past few days. I felt “Aunty Rosie” ooze through the door as I sat up to turn off my alarm clock at 5.30am.

So, all in, I woke up with about 30% confidence I was going to make it all the way to the finish line without hitching a ride in an ambulance or something.

I got down on my knees at 5.35am and prayed. There was NO WAY I was going to make it through this race without the mighty grace of God, and I needed a double measure of it! My friend Rachel had sent me an encouraging verse the night before, from Isaiah 40:

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak…
those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I read those verses again and told myself, “Okay, at the very worst, just walk and don’t faint.”

But God is good and oh-so-worthy to be praised! The race turned out to be the best one I have experienced so far, and I even managed to run most of the way (I brisk-walked about 2.5km in total). For little old me, that’s an achievement!

I have the best husband in the WORLD. When I finally crawled downstairs, he had made a hot cup of magic Milo (his own recipe) and prepared a slice of white bread with Nutella for me.

(And he’d had a crazy night too: Saturday night/Sunday pre-dawn was the counting of the votes for the new President, and our kids Big B and Middle B stayed up till 4am watching and waiting through the recount. Yes, while their parents were fast asleep, not caring…okay, just caring enough that Tan Jee Say didn’t win.)

In the 2nd wave, waiting not-so-close to the start line this time.


When we got to Parliament House where we decided to park, we saw all the reporters staggering out of the Supreme Court, where the counting (and recounting) had happened.

Getting to the start point on Esplanade Bridge proved an adventure and a half. Many roads had been closed off for the race. When finally I managed to get to the Esplanade, it was 5 minutes to gun time. A quick kiss goodbye to my love, and I took my place. This time I was waaaay behind the start line, and had to wait about 10 minutes for the first wave of runners to clear the road.


There was a little bit of shoulder-to-shoulder action at first, as runners trickled down past One Fullerton and Collyer Quay before turning left into Marina Boulevard. But soon there was more breathing space as we trekked past the waterfront area of Marina Bay Sands.

At the top of Nicoll Highway, the U-turn at 6km. Look at them wide, wonderful roads!


It was really fun running the route, not least of all because Adidas pulled out all the stops to make it a trouble-free run. The race took us past Marina Bay Sands, down Republic Avenue and then up and down Nicoll Highway, U-turning at Mountbatten, and then again at the tunnel to Beach Road, before the final stretch through the F1 pit and down Esplanade Drive to the Padang.

The route to Beach Road, U-turning at 13km.


Not only were the roads closed off for this run (oh, SO nice not to hustle with 20 others on a narrow track!), Adidas (and organiser Hi-Velocity) was thoughtful enough to put up huge KM markers at every kilometre, and hydration points with Ice Mountain and 100 Plus every two kilometres. So any fear I had that I was going to be gasping my way to the next water point was quickly allayed.

My sweetheart Mr Threez had planned with me that he would be at the Mountbatten stretch to shoot me in action. So there he was at the corner turning into Stadium Drive with a big smile on his face, camera ready. Now THAT’s motivation to keep running 🙂 After the Mountbatten stretch he drove back to the Padang to wait for me near the Finish Line. *sweet*

It's true, I can't count.


There was such a great spirit among the runners, it was like everyone was in such a good mood. We clapped when we “met” the Closed Category frontrunner as he swept past us on the other side. We clapped for an amputee who was cheerfully running with his wife or girlfriend. We clapped for a really old uncle carrying a large plastic bag with drinks inside who moved real fast.

Great feeling running through the F1 track and pit!


The last stretch was really nice — we ran along the water next to the Esplanade and past the floating platform, before going under the Esplanade Bridge tunnel, and looping back to Connaught Drive to the Finish Line. I had set a target of 2:15 for myself, and I cleared the finish line in 2:10. I know, it’s Grandma speed but it was such a long mental journey, I wanted to finish ALIVE!

All in, an amazing race!
Apart from my thighs calling out “Some Tiger Balm here”, I felt great! My left foot, post-plantar fasciitis, was wonderful. I wasn’t aching anywhere else. It just felt wonderful.

Mr Threez was all smiles coming to greet me. “I can’t believe how fresh you looked at Mountbatten!” he grinned. I couldn’t either. Isn’t God gracious? It was exactly as Isaiah said: I ran and was not weary. I walked and did not faint. How powerful is the Word of God!

Check out the backdrop!


The Race Village at the Padang was picture perfect that morning, with multi-colored racing vests scattered across the green. Adidas even had two photo walls that finishers could pose at, and all the photos were mounted on Flickr for download by the end of this week. Mr Threez couldn’t believe I wanted a photo with the Supreme Court in the background, but hey, at least we didn’t shoot our wedding photos there … *wink*

All in, it was a great experience, this inaugural Adidas King of the Road: fab route, superb organisation, just-right weather. Definitely the best run I’ve had so far. I’d recommend Adidas KOTR 2012 highly!

I got cleaned up, pulled on a dry T-shirt and we trotted off to a fabulous breakfast at Boomerang. Yum!

Epilogue: The fastest man to finish this race did it in 51 minutes. The fastest woman did it in 1:04. Amazing! Mr Threez snorted at me checking my results. I love HiVelocity — on the evening of the Sunday run, the individual results were out on the website! Yesterday, I received a nicely designed email telling me I could check the full results. I finished at 2:10, ranking 775 out of 1878 finishers. I’m no elite athlete but I’m happy with how I did!

To me it’s a matter of meeting my own goal, and psyching myself to train for my next milestone, the Standard Chartered Half-Marathon!