Children cancer survivors open up about their childhoods
Majority of the childhood cancer cases in Singapore have an early onset of 0-4 years old. Instead of enjoying their childhoods, these children undergo cycles of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.
We talked to three of our cancer survivors—Amirah (AM), Ruqayyah (RY) and Nazri (NZ)—to understand the struggles they faced. (photo from left to right)

Ain Society (AS): Briefly, what do you remember about your childhood?
AM: My childhood was fun. I played the playground, learnt to ride a bicycle, watch cartoons, go on outings with my family.
RY: Most of the time, I spent my days in the hospital bed filled with wires. So there wasn’t much to remember about my childhood.
NZ: Before cancer, I was very active in sports and volunteering work. But after that, I cannot do what I want to do; like play sports and do volunteering work overseas.

AS: Did you get to play often?
AM: Yes, often with my siblings at home and friends at the playground. RY: Yes, but it’s not the same with other children who get to play more often than me. Usually, I will get to play during my free time in the hospital with my social worker/s. They will entertain me with lots of toys, games and dolls.
NZ: I play a lot of sports such as badminton, and after schooling hours, I like to play at the void deck with my friends before I had cancer. But as soon as I got sick, I could not do much, and I lost touch with many of my friends. The doctor advised me to stop playing sports due to my condition, and my immune system was low at that time. So he fears that I may contract any new viruses. I feel down most of the time. But slowly, Alhamdulillah, over the years, as my condition gets better, I could do more of the things I did back then. It was possible with the support I get from my family, friends and teachers.

AS: How did you feel before going to treatment?
AM: I was happy, and I had dreams to grow up and become a successful woman and have a happy family. After I knew I had cancer, everything changed. I feel as though people would not treat me the same as before. My family was the only one I rely upon. I was scared and nervous. Today, I’m still shy and insecure at times, but I’m always pushing myself to be positive.
RY: I don’t remember how I felt, but I know I was confused every time the nurses send me into the room with doctors, and that made me scared. I would always cry.
NZ: I feel scared before going to treatments initially, but I leave everything to Allah. I would think of my mother, family and friends who need me. And I will try my best to get better even though it’s challenging because I usually won’t have an appetite to eat after chemotherapy.

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