You’ve spent the whole day at the mall with your family.
After putting the kids to bed, you settle down on the shoulder of your husband while enjoying a good read.
How does that sound?
You may find it rather mundane.
Sure it is good fun but it isn’t anything special too.
You probably will describe it as a fine day.
For Andrea, a fine day is a great day.
After hearing what she has gone through, there is no way I would disagree.
You would too.
When you look at Andrea today, this is what you will see.
A proud mother as well as a loving companion to her husband.
She is also a successful financial advisor who is trusted by her clients, who see her not as an advisor but a confidante.
It sounds like a perfect life.
Someone that had it good all her life.
However, that isn’t the case.
She encountered a large dose of bad luck at an inopportune moment.
Somehow she managed to survive all that and live to tell her story.
In her very words, she has kicked cancer in the ass.
For 6 years running now!
We leave it to Andrea to give you the details.
A mysterious pain that refused to go away
It was my second pregnancy.
My first child had just turned two so we decided to plan for another.
On hindsight, number 2 was no blessing.
On the second month after conceiving, I started having terrible backaches.
The pain was so overwhelming that I could no longer do anything like a normal human being.
I could not play with my 2-year-old; I could hardly move due to the excruciating pain.
To make things worse, my pregnancy meant that I was unable to take stronger painkillers without causing harm to the fetus.
I took the daily maximum dosage allowed – 8 Panadols and 6 Codeines.
I also had to take a month’s worth of MC.
The pain got worse within that period.
My legs became numb, starting from the toes.
By the end of the 3rd month, I couldn’t move them at all.
72 hours left to save my life
One day, I couldn’t get up from a squatting position after my legs had totally given way.
My family doctor realized the gravity of the situation and advised me to be admitted to the hospital for further checks.
As I lay down on the cold hospital bed, my toes started to lose all sensation.
The doctors sent me for an MRI at 5 am due to this development.
Before the result was released, the hospital called the whole family down.
I knew then that something terrible was about to unfold.
A tumour was detected on my spinal cord.
If it was not removed within the next 3 days, I would be disabled for the rest of my life.
Even though I was expecting bad news, it still struck me hard.
It was then I let my tears flow freely.
All my other doctors had advised that the backaches were caused by the pregnancy.
How on earth did that turn out to be a tumour?!
In a way, it was fortunate that I had little time to think.
A major operation to remove the tumour was immediately arranged.
I had no better choice since my other option was to be permanently disabled.
This was when I experienced one of the most heart-wrenching moments in my life.
As I was wheeled into the operating theatre, I could hear the loud wails of my daughter.
I was devastated as I could not do a single thing to pacify her.
At that moment, the pain of my helplessness was comparable to the agony caused by my tumour.
The scene would have fit into any weepy Korean drama.
Except that I was the protagonist, instead of being a viewer.
That scene had become my horrible reality.
Bad things come in pairs too
The tumour was removed but a biopsy had to be conducted as well.
It took about a week for the results to be out.
Diffused Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) was detected.
I quickly learnt that DLBCL was an extremely aggressive form of cancer so treatment need to begin soon for me to have the best chance of defeating it.
Although DLBCL could theoretically affect any part of the body, it rarely grew on the spine.
“Could things get any worse?”
I asked myself.
Apparently, they could.
The doctor informed us that I could not keep my baby anymore.
The chemotherapy would stop the supply of folic acid from reaching the fetus.
Effectively, I would have to terminate my pregnancy if I chose to treat my cancer.
I had to make a tough choice.
In a way, the shortage of time helped.
I had to stay calm, to ignore the emotions swirling in my head and make a rational decision.
When I took into account of my 2-year-old toddler, my husband and my own life, the choice was clear.
I could not risk choosing a less invasive treatment, given the situation.
With the support from my husband, I decided to fight cancer to the last – even if it cost me my unborn child.
It was not going away without making things horrible for me.
I could remember that I vomited all my meals out after my first chemotherapy.
My bedroom looked like the floor of my hairdresser saloon at closing time.
I shaved my head as I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I had to undergo 6 sessions of inpatient chemotherapy and another dozen of outpatient chemotherapy.
Lumbar puncture was a painful procedure which a large needle was used to inject the chemical into the spine; I had 4 of those.
During those torturous months, my ever supportive husband visited me every single day in the hospital.
My parents, along with my in-laws took turns to take care of my little one and the household in general.
I was really grateful for the love that my family had showered upon me during this trying period.
It allowed me to focus on my recovery.
Another thing that has set my mind at ease?
The fact that I didn’t have to worry about the medical bills at all.
Rainbow after the rain
As you are reading this, I have beaten cancer for 6 years.
That was made possible partially due to the Prudential insurance plan that I had bought earlier.
I could afford to choose the best treatments available because I knew it was not going to affect my household finances at all.
The operation at TTSH cost us $20,000.
When I tallied the total cost of chemotherapy, it amounted to a hefty $80,000.
If you are still counting, it was a cool $100,000 that I did not have to fork out from my own pocket.
I considered myself lucky to have bought that policy.
Because I almost didn’t.
When my good friend (and agent) first approached me, my initial reaction was a negative one.
I have never been hospitalized all my life. And I don’t intend to start now. Why would I need a hospitalization plan?
In the end, his persistent persuasion swayed me.
It turned out to be the most important yet fortunate financial decision that I have ever made.
Be the change you want to see in the world
That was not the only thing that my advisor did.
He was always ready to offer his helping hand during my hospital stay and diligently followed up on my hospital claims.
As such, my family and I felt eternally indebted to him.
My advisor demonstrated how a responsible financial consultant should support a friend at her time of need.
I also saw first-hand on how proper insurance planning made a positive impact on my life.
After my ordeal, I became a strong believer in insurance.
Despite the fact that I am no longer eligible for life insurance myself, I still believe in it.
That is why I joined Prudential as a financial consultant myself.
I am sharing my story to inspire and encourage people to learn from my lesson, and to be adequately covered, in case the unfortunate ever strikes.
When we are young and well, we tend to take things for granted.
We would never entertain the notion of ill health or mishap – ever.
Andrea’s story should make all of us think twice.
It certainty reminded us that we may not be fine one day.
Your flawless history of perfect health means nothing.
And your first hospital stay may cost you upwards of $100,000.
Your best assurance against a hefty medical bill is insurance.
Andrea approached us to present her story after reading our article on hospitalization plans.
Her hope is that her story will create awareness amongst the public on the importance of insurance.
We are certainly grateful for her willingness to share her experience.
About the Author
Andrea has been recently promoted in Oct 2017 – she is now a mother of three!
She feels fortunate that she is able to add two more members to the family despite the harmful effects of chemotherapy.
Even as Andrea juggles her time between her three adorable kids and husband, she finds it more important than ever to continue her work as a Financial Consultant.
After all, there is always that one person that needs to fully understand the value of proper protection.
She can be reached at
www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.
Pingback: We recaptioned our past articles. And they are Memetastic! - Singapore's Insurance Blog