I’m signing my book at Kinokuniya this Saturday! Come!

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I have to confess I am weirdly excited about my first public book signing this Saturday at Kinokuniya (Ngee Ann City).

Weird because I have always thought it is a very stressful thing to sit in the middle of a store like a display while people are busy shopping.

But at the same time, I have to say I am keen to meet people who would buy this book for themselves or a friend — I have had so many encouraging reviews for A Clean Breast, all those 18 months of headaches, neck-aches and various stresses seem worth it!

So do come by and say hi if you are in the area! It’s 4 to 6pm at Kinokuniya, Ngee Ann City!

The Book Is Born

It’s been a most exciting (exhausting) month! Praise be to God!

My book, A Clean Breast, has finally been published, hallelujah. What started as a book outline in July 2011 has finally been born—and I can see why Singaporean writers struggle! Given our fast-paced lives, writing a book is both an exercise and an art, and above all, a marathon that brings out our discipline and “tong” power (as my friend Lawrence Yeo calls it), or lack thereof!

I am grateful to God, my ever-present help in time of need; my husband, who endured nights of my chair scraping and rocking on our floor as I grumpily forced myself to type out chapters that I would later declare “LAME! USELESS! REWRITE!” Mr Threez also wrote the best chapter in the whole book. My kids, Big and Middle B, who gamely let me interview them for their contributions.

I’m thankful for all the kind voices that gave it their reviews: Mdm Halimah Yacob whom I met at the Singapore Woman Award, such a humble and unassuming woman with big brains! Mayor Amy Khor, my mayor, who always writes so beautifully and from the heart. Laura Hwang, who says Mr Threez’s chapter made her cry. Flo Lian, my former colleauge and head of MediaCorp Radio, whose time, I know, is so very precious. My doctors, co-authors, ex-boss…all the amazing people in my life who actually took time to read this book!

I know God sent my publisher Chin Kar of Write Editions into my life for such a time as this. We have known each other for a number of years, through many different portfolios, but it is this author-publisher arrangement that has brought out the best in both of us (or rather, the best in him and the most challenging in me!)

But through thick, thin, serif and san serif, we finally completed this work.

A Clean Breast, which covers my journey through cancer—some of which you have read here, and much of which you haven’t—launches this Wednesday at a private event, and will be in all major bookstores by early December.

Retail price is $20. You can buy it at Kinokuniya or you can buy it by mail here. More details soon!

Thank you for your support and encouragement, and most of all for the inspiration. The book was birthed out of the blog, and the blog exists because of you.

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.

The New Paper Reports On A Clean Breast Of It And My Policy Woes

The New Paper's report today, Tuesday 31 August 2010

Shree Ann Mathavan of The New Paper came to visit me yesterday and we had a nice chat about my insurance policies (among other things — she is a lovely girl and a hardworking journalist).

Her story came out in today’s New Paper and I felt it was a really fair and clear report of what happened. I was dreading a super-sensationalist header like “She Loses A Breast… And They Won’t Pay!” LOL!

Shree Ann was really respectful of my reasons for talking about this — it is not to complain that Prudential bullied me (which they did not, a contract is a contract) — but to alert other women who might be in the process of buying a policy, or may not have taken a look at her existing policies to make sure her coverage is full. Hence her report came out as such.

I’ve received emails, calls and comments to this blog — financial advisers who very kindly explain how it works (I just wish it was BEFORE not AFTER, but thank you all), women who have been through the same experience, and women who never even realised hospitalisation and critical illness policies are two different policies! So it only confirms that there is definitely a gap in the information that women need to have about their health insurance.

I am also happy to hear from friends who have bought the women’s only policies from AIA, Prudential or Great Eastern, and the GE Early Payout Critical Care, and were covered when the need arose. Happy!

Today, for once, I feel like there is something worthwhile that has come out of my cancer experience.

Happy!