Thank You Mum & Dad!

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In this issue of TRIBUTE, we want to show appreciation to all parents for their selfless love and dedication! For caregivers of children affected by cancer, the road is invariably more arduous and emotionally challenging. We speak to super Mum and Dad, Christina Tio and Leslie Choo, caregivers of CCF beneficiary, Clement Choo, on their caregiving journey and how it has inspired them to help other caregivers whose child has cancer.

1. Are there plans to celebrate Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day? Both: We usually have dinner with extended family members.

2. What is the best thing about becoming a dad/mum? Leslie (L): Besides my wife, my children are my companions.
Christina (C): Being able to share happy moments, brace challenges with my children in times of adversity and be there for them when they need me.

3. What are some memorable moments that you have shared with your child? L: I enjoyed the beach resort holidays with my family after Clement completed his maintenance term. It was in fact our usual activity before Clement was diagnosed with cancer.
C: I have fond memories of our first overseas family trip to Bintan Lagoon Resort in December 2014. I also remember wonderful times like cycling at East Coast Park as a family and when we were invited to a Pet Therapy session in November 2013. It was our first time on board a yacht where we had fun interacting with the dogs and other guests. I also enjoyed our visit to S.E.A Aquarium in Sentosa last June.

4. How do you encourage your child when he/she is feeling down? L: By just being there for him.
C: I give him hugs and encourage him to press on. I also try to cook his favourite Japanese dishes such as Katsudon and Chawanmushi.

5. What challenges did you face when caring for your child?What motivated you during those challenging times? L: I found it difficult to answer the question, ‘Why me?’ when Clement learnt of his condition. It was also tough overcoming the emotional turmoil as I often wished that I could take over my son’s sufferings. I thank my wife and daughter for being my motivation during the difficult period.
C: It was a challenge at the initial stage of the diagnosis as I was unsure of how to care for Clement and what to expect with each treatment. It was also heartbreaking to witness the side effects of chemotherapy on my child as he suffered hair and weight loss. I was also very anxious over the instability of his condition. My greatest motivation was witnessing Clement’s resilience and bravery throughout his cancer journey. The assurances and care from hospital staff as well as the caring support from CCF’s social workers, family, friends and caregivers in similar situations were encouraging.

6. You are both buddies since July 2014 to caregivers of children who are newly diagnosed. What motivated you to volunteer in the CCF Caregivers Buddy Programme? Would you encourage other caregivers to take part in this programme as well? L: I believe that a little support will go a long way. I would definitely encourage other caregivers to join the Programme as we have been through the caregiving journey ourselves.
C: I volunteered in the Programme as a form of giving back for the help that CCF had rendered to us in times of need. I had benefitted from the informal sharing by other caregivers at CCF@NUH and now I hope to be able to share my experiences with caregivers whose child is newly diagnosed with cancer. I would encourage other caregivers to take part in this programme as I believe that only caregivers with similar experiences would be able to fully understand the anguish and helplessness felt by another caregiver.

7. What are some words of encouragement you would like to share with other caregivers whose child is battling cancer? L: I hope that they will never give up and learn to take one step at a time. They must remember to cherish every moment with their loved ones. It is important to be honest with their feelings and release pent up frustrations through healthy activities like sports.
C: The cancer journey is a long and arduous one. Do persevere and stay positive. Believe in the doctors to do what is best for their child and have faith that their child will ride through the tough times.