Racked by pain from illness in her last 1½ years of secondary school, Sherry Lim Xuan Ying had to miss most of her lessons.
For days on end, she suffered severe headaches, nausea and vomiting as well as excruciating gastric pains, putting in doubt whether she would be well enough to take the O-level examinations last year.
She not only persevered with her studies, but with the support of her family and school, managed to score A1s in all her seven subjects in the O-level exams. She received her results yesterday.
It has been a difficult couple of years for Sherry, now 17.
In mid-2018, when she was in Secondary 3 at Crescent Girls' School, she started experiencing headaches and gastric pain that would keep her away from school and exams.
Last year, Sherry was diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a rare and incurable condition resulting from fluid in the nervous system causing high pressure around the brain and spinal cord. This in turn results in headaches, blurred vision and other issues.
She was also diagnosed with eosinophilic oesophagitis, a gastrointestinal illness that triggered gastric pains, particularly when she consumed dairy products.
She had to rest at home most of the time, but was determined to take the O-level exams together with her peers. Once a week, she would go to school, where her teachers would guide her through the lessons she had missed.
But it was tough going.
Sherry said she would not have been able to carry on without the help and encouragement of her physics teacher Tan Tze Yong and her classmates, who would send her pictures of their notes taken during lessons.
Her father, a freelancer, pitched in by taking her to the games arcade to de-stress.
Sherry, who is on long-term medication, said she is interested in helping others who are suffering from the same illnesses as she is. To this end, she is looking to pursue a course in either pharmaceutical science or medicinal chemistry at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and hopes to become a pharmacist.
The journey has not been easy, but Sherry has a positive focus, saying: "If you are facing hardship, just don't give up. Going through it will enable you to become a better person."