When Petrina Kow first learnt that her mother was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 17 years ago, she had no hesitation about becoming one of the elderly woman’s caregivers.
“I’d accompany her to her hospital visits and run errands for her. I just wanted to make sure that she felt
comfortable and had what she needed,” says the 46-year-old former radio DJ who has hosted shows on 938Live, Class 95FM and 91.3FM.
But even when the demands of being a caregiver took its toll, Petrina refrained from communicating her feelings of helplessness because she thought that she “should always put on a happy face and a strong front around family”.
“I did not want to cause further distress to them by expressing my sadness and anxiety. On top of avoiding discussions, I banished negative thoughts from my mind because I thought this is what strength should look like. When in doubt, deny and distract,” she explains.
“This meant that I could not process these difficult emotions, and I ended up caring for my mother in a way where I was feeling fear and a sense of loss on the inside. It was a confusing time.”