Maid lauded for helping employer in cancer fight

Ms Melchor (centre) with her employer Mr Cull, his wife Amy and their children Annabel and Daniel. Ms Melchor was named Helper of the Year.
Ms Melchor (centre) with her employer Mr Cull, his wife Amy and their children Annabel and Daniel. Ms Melchor was named Helper of the Year.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Domestic helper Erlinda Melchor breaks into tears when she recounts how her employer Clem Cull was diagnosed with stage four cancer in April.

"I've been worried about him... It's very hard for us," Ms Melchor, 42, who has been working for the Culls for nearly four years, told The Sunday Times.

Mr Cull's cancer has relapsed. Ms Melchor had been working for the family for just two months when Mr Cull, a headhunter, was first diagnosed with stage three head and neck cancer in 2013.

Yet Ms Melchor, who is from the Philippines, stayed on to help. Not only did she take care of Mr Cull's young daughter Annabel when he went for treatment, but she also read up on cancer and prepared nutritious foods such as smoothies for him.

Yesterday, her contributions were recognised when she was named Helper of the Year at the Sassy Mama Helper Awards, held for the first time by parenting website Sassy Mama Singapore.

Mr Cull, 42, who hails from New Zealand and moved to Singapore for work six years ago with his banker wife Amy, 39, describes Ms Melchor as "awesome".

"When you get diagnosed, everyone's like 'Oh my God, what do you do?' So we were really lucky to have Erlinda," he said.

"We had lots of family coming over... The house was kind of like a train station. But she was just so good at organising everything - cooking the meals and making sure I was eating healthily."

Things settled down when Mr Cull's cancer went into remission. Now that the cancer has returned and spread, Ms Melchor has been busy bringing the family's visiting relatives to visit Mr Cull when he was hospitalised, accompanying him to chemotherapy, and helping to take care of the latest addition to the family, five-month old Daniel.

"Of all the employers I've worked for, they are the nicest... There is no reason to leave," said Ms Melchor, who has worked as a domestic helper here for more than 10 years.

She has a 17-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son, who are being looked after by her parents in the Philippines. Her husband died in a car accident in 2006.

At the event held at The Pantry in Loewen Road near Dempsey Hill yesterday, nine other domestic helpers received awards in the categories of Special Recognition, Childcare, Master Chef and Pet Lover.

Winners walked away with prizes which included food and beauty vouchers, as well as headphones.

Felicia Choo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 02, 2016, with the headline 'Maid lauded for helping employer in cancer fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe