Victoria was diagnosed with liposarcoma in 2010. She received treatment but the cancer returned in 2012. That was a very dark period for her. She was depressed and couldn’t even bring herself to reach out to her friends. She recalled, “Initially, I was shocked as I did not think cancer would be something that could happen to me, especially at such a young age. When the cancer returned, I was even more horrified as I didn’t expect it to return so quickly.”
How then did she pull herself out of this difficult period? She has a resilience bank where she has been depositing since young. She recounted, “Environment for my childhood was challenging and our family didn’t have enough for everyone. My sisters had to quit school after primary school to start earning money for the rest of us. I learned to be resourceful and treasure what I have.” She felt that her sisters would have a more fulfilling life had they been given the opportunity to continue their education. That’s why helping children to complete school is something close to her heart.
Another significant deposit for her is the influence of her father, who succumbed to cancer in 2000. She reminisced, “My father is my idol because of his values especially in helping others. He started a social club with his friends when I was a teenager. Everyone used to call him ‘Big Brother’. There are endless stories about his giving nature.” During her father’s wake, one of her father’s ex-colleagues came forward to share, “Your father is a good man. When our boss had to retrench one of us, your father chose to retire early so that I could keep the job.”
She felt overflowing happiness from starting PeopleStories and roping in like-minded people along the way. She rejoiced in each and every improvement the students and the villagers made over the years. The positive energy generated from helping unexpectedly boosted her resilience bank. In fact, her fridge is filled with photographs of the students and people she met in PeopleStories. These photographs energise her with the memories they evoked.
Here’s what she shared with other cancer patients, “We don’t have control over everything that happens to us in life, but we can choose how to face and handle everything. I think “life really is a celebration” even though I don’t follow any religion, I am still grateful for life.”
If today’s her last day, does she have any regrets? She shared frankly, “No, I feel my life is complete and abundant. For the past decade, there were both tears and laughter. There were fears as a single mother and feeling of helplessness when I was sick. But when I focused on my work in PeopleStories, I felt complete happiness and satisfaction.”
She added, “When I think about my life now, I don’t merely focus on the suffering, I think of how I can use the rest of my life, the next 20 years or even 30 years; to help more people and to complete the purpose of my life.”
Do you wish to boost your resilience bank? Vic is hosting an online book reading session to share her story as part of the “Amazing Resilience” book. Email her directly if you would like to attend: victoria@PeopleStoriesCharity.org
Story written by: Volunteer Bok Hoon Ong