TRUE STORY: "I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was just 26"

Chen Zhichun was just 26 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 2010. She, along with her husband David, shares her story.

Chen Zhichun, 31, executive assistant, and David Ng, 30, analyst
Zhichun’s world fell apart in 2010, when she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer after discovering a lump in her right breast. She was just 26, and planning her wedding to David. “I thought I was way too young to get cancer, and I was devastated by the unfairness of it all,” recalls Zhichun.

Her oncologist recommended various treatments, including eight cycles of chemotherapy, a right breast mastectomy without reconstruction, 25 sessions of radiotherapy and oral hormone therapy. After her surgery and treatment, David and Zhichun carried on with their wedding plans, which were postponed by three months to give Zhichun more time to recover.

But a fairytale ending wasn’t on the cards for the childhood sweethearts. “A few months after the wedding, I felt a pain in my left pelvic bone. It turned out that the cancer – now metastatic or Stage 4 cancer – had spread to my bones,” Zhichun shares.

“My oncologist told me that Stage 4 breast cancer is incurable but treatable, like a chronic illness. I’ve since been put on long-term palliative chemotherapy, and this is my third year as a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor.”

The couple adore children, but have since accepted that they may never have kids of their own. “People have told me that it’ll be unfair to the child, since my days are numbered,” says Zhichun candidly. “Moreover, I may not be able to cope with the additional responsibility of being a mother.

“Besides, David tells me that he should mean more to me than 10 sons!” she laughs. “In fact, I cannot imagine battling my cancer without him. His support has been paramount – physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

Indeed, David has a heart of gold when it comes to his wife. “Zhichun dreads her regular blood tests and chemotherapy sessions, which she has to go for every three weeks, so I’ll always get off work early and rush home.

“I also try to cheer her up in little ways – for instance, I’ll take her to her favourite Thai and Italian restaurants to improve her appetite,” he says. “However, I know that what I’ve done for her is nothing compared with what she has gone through, and I strive to support her better every day. I’m aware that the clock is ticking faster for us now, but we’ll take each day at a time.

“Four years ago, I stood before God and my loved ones, and made a promise to my wife. I promised to cherish her unconditionally – for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, and in health and in sickness. And I’m proud to honour that,” he adds.

This article was originally published in Simply Her October 2015.