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48 Singaporean Seconds: She lost 20% of her vocal power because of nose cancer, but she's still having a ball singing

Published on Jul 17, 2013 3:47 PM

Singapore celebrates its 48th birthday on Aug 9, and to tie in with this,The Straits Times Picture Desk has put together 48 Singaporean Seconds, an audio-visual tribute to 20 Singaporeans who have made this little red dot their home.

We are releasing their stories and videos in the next few weeks.

In the eighth instalment of our series, we talk to nose cancer survivor Sylvia Khoh.

Sylvia Khoh, 60, finance manager

Nose cancer survivor, Mrs Sylvia Khoh, 60, who sings chinese opera, wishes to use her voice to inspire others like her. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

While other people listen to the radio as they drive, Mrs Sylvia Khoh likes to belt out Chinese opera songs as she travels to and from work.

The 60-year-old finance manager, who works in a shipping firm, practises her singing alone in the car.

That is because her son was once freaked out when she sang at home. "He thought I was a ghost," she quips, laughing.

Singing has been her life's passion, but in March 2010 after she was diagnosed with stage-1 nose cancer, she lost about 20 per cent of her vocal prowess.

The mother of three went through 35 sessions of radiotherapy to remove a two-grain-sized tumour, and now feels incredibly blessed that she's still able to sing.

She was particularly moved by other cancer survivors and patients who volunteered their time to help out at support groups.

"These people are good. They come and help even though they are ill as well," she says, "I'm the least affected by the so-called side effects of cancer. I should be helping others."

These days, she performs for senior citizens at Kreta Ayer Community Club and helps people deal with the side-effects of cancer.

Her wish is to inspire others with her voice. As she says: "Hey, I'm a sick person, I'm still able to sing, why not you?"

- Photos and videos by The Straits Times Picture Desk