Apart from a chronic back problem that would not go away even after four surgeries, Mr Daniel Tan also had to deal with panic attacks and bouts of depression.
This went on for months until the training executive was so frustrated that he even contemplated suicide.
But with the love and support of his wife, the 41-year-old eventually "saw the light at the end of the tunnel".
The Day 3 winner of the inaugural The Straits Times 12 Days of Christmas Surprises contest, Mr Tan will take home an LG 32-inch LED LCD television, courtesy of our presenting partner Standard Chartered.
His struggle started in 2011, after he discovered that he had a back ache that would not go away. But things did not get easier for the father of two boys. Instead, the ache grew progressively worse, reaching a point in July this year where he could not move due to the pain.
In hopes of easing the discomfort, he underwent four lower back surgeries since last year. "I had to take 40 to 50 days of medical leave and it was a financially difficult period for us."
To make matters worse, Mr Tan received other devastating news during the same period in July - his grandmother died and his father was diagnosed with lung cancer one day later.
Feeling helpless, he suffered panic attacks and sank into depression. It was his counsellor wife, Mrs Jenny Tan, 35, who finally pulled him out of the rut with her support.
"My wife has stood by me in my road to recovery from multiple chronic health problems," he wrote in his entry to the ST Christmas contest. Her support, he said, was unwavering despite her "juggling with her workload, studies and care for our young children".
Mrs Tan said the television was a welcome prize. "Our TV is breaking down so its a timely gift which we are very appreciative of."
As part of The Straits Times Appreciates Readers (Star) series to reach out to readers and the community, the contest aims to give one mystery gift to one reader a day until Dec 24. A series of tech gadgets and household appliances worth $6,000 in total will be given away.
To take part, just tell us in not more than 40 words: "Why my loved one or I deserve to get a gift from The Straits Times".
We are looking for the most moving and genuinely heartfelt entries.
E-mail your entry to email@example.com and include your full name, NRIC number and cellphone number. The contest is open until noon on Dec 23.
To check out other readers' entries as well as up-to-date stories on Christmas, please go to www.straitstimes.com/st-christmas-2013