Eric WK Ng
A Portrait Series in collaboration with a film series for Singapore Cancer Society.
Besides the portraits, personal items that relate to each individual's journey with cancer were also collected and displayed. Fully conceptualised, shot and curated by Eric, the whole project was exhibited at SOTA (School of The Arts) on 12th Feb 2019.
“Previously—just before I was planning to get married—I had a operation to remove a brain tumour and when I thought the worst was over, I was diagnosed with breast cancer one year after. I felt that life was very unfair and I was very scared my husband would leave me.
But he didn’t, and I’m very thankful of him for taking care of me all this while. My advice for people with cancer would be, to face it with courage.”
Agnes Khoo & Aric Chang
Cancer Survivor & Agnes’ Husband
“My own family told me that if I die, it'll be my own business. They’re not going to care.
Luckily, I have a very supportive husband. He really encourages me. Even when I had to shave my head, my husband shaved his head as well. It's his support and accompaniment that enabled me to accept my condition.”
“Life still has to go on. We still need to face it. No matter what happens, I’ll stay by your side until my last breath to take care of you.”
“I was very young when I was diagnosed, but I didn’t identify as “The Girl who had Cancer”. It wasn’t about winning or losing a fight. It was something that happened and we dealt with it, and we just moved forward.
If I were to tell a child who has cancer—I would tell them that your hair would grow back, your nails would stop being blue. It is just a now thing and it will pass.”
“Man, it really sucks. But we get dealt bad cards in every hand.
Remember that a life isn’t valued by its length, but the quality of laughter, the length of hugs and the depth of conversation. If you’re on for the ride that is cancer, make it the best one you can.
I’m rooting for you ”
“I’m very positive now. I look very forward; I’m not gonna think about the past. I don’t want my mind to control me—I need to control my mind right now.
I have no time to think that my life is short. I’m gonna put all this aside. I look forward. Everyday, I look forward.”
“I was unable to talk for 3 years. When the doctor first inserted the talking device, it didn’t work. When it finally worked on my second attempt, I was so happy. I can finally communicate with my friends, my relatives and my children. That was the happiest day!”
“I’ve learnt through this journey that cancer is not the end. It’s only the end if you give up on yourself. You just lose hope. You say, cancer, what to do? So many have died from it and I’ll die as well.
No. Most of us will survive. It’s life changing, yes! You got to change the way you think, the way you eat, the way you live. But we still live! Some of them live quite long! Much longer than people expect! Now, everyday I wake up with so much appreciation. I’m just so glad I’m alive. Every morning is like being born again.”
Caroline Chua, Maximus Lee, Melody Lee & Melivia Lee
Cancer Patient & Caroline’s Children
“Actually, I felt that this whole episode with cancer was actually a blessing in disguise. My whole family actually got closer, especially for me with my children and amongst themselves.
I would thank my 3 children for being the motivating factor that makes me go on, and on, and on, and on—giving me the motivation to live and to continue living a quality life. Because I know I want to see them through; through National Service, College/Polytechnic and ‘O’ Levels. That’s why I would thank them for being them.”
“Freddy was with me when I got diagnosed with cancer. I think he actually went through a period of depression shortly after and for that, I am very sorry.
But that motivated me to be strong because my loved ones are not going to suffer with me—they’re going to enjoy their lives together with me.”
“When we first heard the news, at that very moment, I wished that I could change the situation and swap places with her.
After going through this journey with Caroline for the past two years, I’ve learnt not to dwell on unimportant stuff. Do not waste your time. Spend time with loved ones. As long as every single day, you wake up—you’re still waking up and you’re still living. Just live your life as it is.”
Items on display from the various individuals who participated in the exhibition, consisting of medical reports, old photos, thank you notes, inspirational books and other memorabilia. Each item tells the story of their respective owners, illustrating their lives before, during or after cancer.
Miki Arimura & Tomonori Yamamoto
Cancer Survivor & Miki’s Husband
“Before having cancer, I always felt dissatisfied— everything was always not enough. But now, I’ve realised that I do have enough.
I have good parents, good friends and a good husband. Now I appreciate what happiness can be and funnily, it is something that I’ve only realised after my diagnosis.”
Singapore Cancer Society
“It is okay not to feel okay. I think that in our society right now, we are all expected to accept the idea of “you can’t change, then you should just accept”. But that is not true.
The idea is that sometimes people must have the space to just feel sad, rant, cry or to talk to friends; to make their own form of personal ritual before they can come to a stage where they can say that they’re ready to deal with this head on.”
“If you can help them release some of this fear, it’ll be easier for them. A lot of times the fear is not about the cancer itself but the fear of leaving the people around them. So what I do is to give them assurance that I’ll see to their needs and settle whatever is necessary.”
Dr Ang Peng Tiam
Medical Director and Senior Consultant
Parkway Cancer Centre
“No one walks alone in cancer. There are the caregivers, the nurses, the doctors, the friends, the family and relatives. It is important that all of us rally together and offer the much needed support for the cancer patient. Because it is this support that in my mind, makes the real difference.”
“When the doctor repeatedly confirmed that I had cancer, I was very cool. There’s nothing like “Why me?” at all. Deep down, I’m just so glad that it was me.
Because if it’s not me, what happens if it’s my mum? She’s my Number 1 woman. She was already in her 70s, so she shouldn’t go through this. If it’s not me, then what will happen if it’s my daughter? She’s so young! She’s in her early 20s. So I’m the best candidate, and I took the news very well. I just proceed with whatever it is that I need to do.”
“At that point of time, you can’t really do much, you just have to move forward. That’s what we did. We just embraced it and went through it together.”
Tan Hui Ping
Parkway Cancer Centre
“Cancer is a health crisis, what can we say? There are no words that can really describe what they’re going through. When there are no words, saying anything doesn’t really mean much. Sometimes just being there with them, sharing the same space with them can be very powerful.”
Parkway Cancer Centre
“For cancer patients going through treatment, we want them to try maintaining a healthy weight because they tend to lose weight very easily. Often it’s because of the diagnosis itself or a treatment that causes an increase in metabolism or side effects like lost of appetite or vomiting.
If they can stick to our recommended diet to maintain things like their weight, protein levels and albumin levels, it will help in their ability to continue treatment. Because we might need to stop treatment if their body gets too weak.”
Serene Ong & Willie Tan
Cancer Survivor & Serene’s Husband
“I felt that I deserved it. I told myself that it’s karma at work. Because of my lifestyle, I never watched my diet, liked to indulge in food and the last time I exercised was in my Junior College days. Now I’ve learnt to let go; to let go of many things. Not to sweat over the small stuff and now, I’m happier.”
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