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Stories of Inner Strength

Stories of
Inner Strength

Jody's Story

Courage & Inner Strength Rise Above

Jody Shen was in her early 30s when she heard unexpected news that turned her world upside down. In 2019, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple-Negative Breast Cancer and as a mother to two young children, she knew that she had to go on fighting. Throughout her treatment journey, she leaned on her family, friends and community groups like After Breast Cancer group (ABC) to lift her spirits. She is now in remission and is more grateful for the life she has than ever before.

Jody Shen
1. How did you feel when you heard you had TNBC?

I was very lost, clueless and shocked. I was considered young and had no cancer history in my family. If not for volunteers from ABC, who dedicate their time to helping ladies like me, I would not have known what to do next.

2. How did you prepare for treatment?

I had a rather short lead time, 2 to 3 days, before treatment started. I understood that with chemo, I will lose all my hair, so I purchased a wig and had another donated to me. I went for a hair cut, I had no courage to shave my head yet.

3. What was your treatment journey like?

In 2019, I had surgery to insert a portacath as my veins were quite narrow. I started with weekly chemo for 3 months with Taxol, followed by chemo with AC every 3 weeks and immunotherapy every 3 to 4 weeks. After my last chemo session in 2020, I had a lumpectomy.

4. Why did you opt for immunotherapy?

My doctor assessed and felt that I was a suitable candidate because I was younger and generally healthy aside from cancer.

5. How did you cope financially with treatment?

Thankfully I was covered by my hospitalisation policy. We still had to pay for some, but it’s still manageable.

6. What were some of the challenges you faced?

The side effects when I first started chemo - nausea, diarrhea with painful stomach cramps. I almost fainted. Hair loss from my third week into chemo…I had very long hair almost all my life.

Jody Shen
7. Who or what gave you the inner strength and resilience to fight TNBC?

My beloved family, especially my young kids (they were 2 and 5 years old then), my mum and my husband. Also, friends and supportive bosses. My religion played a big part too. I am a Christian and I draw strength from God.

8. How did your family support or motivate you during your treatment?

I moved back to my parents’ house knowing that I needed help with my kids and someone taking care of me when my hubby is at work. My mum was with me for almost all my chemo sessions, making sure I ate and drank well, taking care of me and my kids tirelessly. My kids were too young to fully understand what’s going on. They gave me daily hugs and kisses and rubbed my bald head, because they thought it was fun. I really wanted to quickly get well and to make up for lost time with my kids and hubby.

9. How did you stay positive during this time?

I focused on praying, talked to family and friends when I’m down. I caught many K-dramas as I was resting at home. I also picked up sewing. I volunteered to sew cloth masks for foreign workers (around 150 to 200 pieces in total), organised by the town council and made tissue pouches for my friends as Christmas presents.

Jody Shen
Quote If something is strong enough to bring you down, show that you are strong enough to get back up! Quote
10. How has your life changed since you’ve been in remission?eat cleaner, upkeep a positive mindset and I’m less of a workaholic, with a better work life balance. I even volunteered as a facilitator for “ABC- Celebrate Life Programme” after attending as a participant myself.
11. Are you still able to do the things you did before?

Yes definitely! I regained my strength and energy after a while, slowly but surely. I travelled to different parts of Malaysia and have planned trips to Taiwan and Osaka this year. I even got a promotion two years after I returned to work.

12. Looking back at your journey, what would you do differently?

Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently except to worry less. I had a very strong team of medical professionals taking care of me and support from many volunteers and ladies who were also fighting cancer alongside me. Most importantly, I have family and friends who love and care for me.

13. Can you share your advice for women who have TNBC?

Stay positive, though I know that’s easier said than done. There’s no point dwelling on what has happened and be negative. It doesn’t help and makes you feel worse. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Know that all these down moments will pass, and you will surely emerge stronger. Join ABC too, to equip yourself with skills to manage your beautiful life after cancer. Be a facilitator for the program or reach out to other breast cancer ladies in need. Give back!

14. How have you emerged stronger from TNBC?

It’s almost difficult to describe with words. Knowing that I have fought one of the most difficult times in my life and feeling the victory that I got well. Generally, I’m happier, loving life and have become a better person.

Share your ‘I Can’ story

Have you been diagnosed with TNBC and chose to forge ahead on your own terms? Do you have a loved one who turned to face TNBC head-on? As a caregiver, do you have tips and stories of encouragement for other caregivers?

Share your story to help empower others living with TNBC.

Remember that there is power in the community, others with a TNBC diagnosis could feel supported and inspired by understanding how you are taking on TNBC.

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