“It was June 2017 when I felt a lump on my breast,” Phyllis recalls. She was living and working in Hong Kong at the time, and waited six months to get it checked as she wanted to do it in Singapore. 

 “When the results came back, luckily, I was still in the early stages of breast cancer, but if I had seen a doctor six months earlier, I would have been at stage one,” she admits. 

Phyllis at different stages of recovery. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Cheong)

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“Upon receiving the diagnosis, my mind was blank and it seemed like a nightmare. Breast cancer was something I knew about vaguely, but I knew I had to accept the fact and deal with it.”

After relocating back to Singapore, Phyllis underwent six gruelling months of chemotherapy.

“It was a wakeup call for me,” she shares, “but I love my parents and don’t want them to worry about me, so I needed to get well!”

“[Breast cancer] was a wakeup call for me. I love my parents … so I needed to get well.” – Phyllis

Despite the tough treatments, Phyllis persisted, thanks to the support of family and friends, and continued living life normally. “Of course, I tried to eat healthier, avoided raw food and switched to using products with natural ingredients.”

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A portrait piece titled “Woman In Red” painted by Phyllis. (Photo: Art By Lissy Love)

“To take my mind off cancer and the pain, I turned to painting. I plan to sell them to raise funds for the breast cancer cause. I also set up a bucket list of things to do as soon as I am well, which mostly involves seeing the world. I want to learn diving, take my mum to Japan, ride on a hot air balloon and travel Europe and South America.”

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After her chemo ended, Phyllis attended a Breast Cancer Foundation support group and met other survivors, some of whom have been in the group for 20 years. “It gives me hope and I would absolutely encourage other breast cancer survivors and caregivers to join us,” she says. 

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(Photo: Phyllis Cheong)Phyllis had a lumpectomy on 31 July this year and she’s still recovering but is considered cancer-free.

“My motto is live in the present and enjoy life to the fullest.” – Phyllis

“I treasure life so much now because you only live once, and I could be dead in one to two years if I never went for the checkup. My motto is live in the present and enjoy life to the fullest. Forget about bad things that happened in the past and forgive people.”

She hopes to become a good artist and home decorator and set up her own company. “Don’t let cancer defeat you,” she says. “Looking back at what I’ve endured, it was tough but I did it. We can come out a stronger and happier woman. Appreciate every single beautiful thing that happens around you. There is always life after breast cancer.”

Phyllis’ words of advice:

“Breast cancer does not discriminate; it is important for every woman to take charge of her breast health. Don’t wait to do  self-checks and consult a doctor if you find anything such as a lump or nipple discharge.”

Visit Phyllis’s website www.artbylissylove.com to see her paintings.

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