SINGAPORE - When Ms Nooridah Mohd Noor, 38, discovered she was four weeks pregnant with her second child in late 2020, she broke down in tears.
What would otherwise be happy news came as a shock. Just a week before, she had been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer - a particularly aggressive form of the disease - despite being young and having no family history of cancer.
After giving birth prematurely, and undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Nooridah's cancer went into remission last August and her sons - now aged three and one - are healthy.
Throughout her battle with cancer, Ms Nooridah, the owner of a home-based baking business, shared what was going on with her on Instagram and through the Breast Cancer Foundation and Sengkang General Hospital's support groups and networks, hoping it would help others.
For her efforts, she was awarded the Partner-in-Care Award (Patient Category) on Thursday (May 26) at SingHealth's Inspirational Patient and Caregiver Awards 2022.
The annual awards honour individuals for their strength, courage and resilience in the face of health challenges, as well as support groups that have provided comfort to patients and caregivers.
"A cancer diagnosis can be so difficult and you can go into deeper depression so fast," she said.
"I wanted others like me to know that they're not alone and that we are all in this journey together."
Ms Nooridah has since met and supported more than 10 other mothers with cancer in Singapore, Britain and the United States.
She said her story helped at least one other mother recognise symptoms of the disease and seek help, which led to early detection and treatment of breast cancer.
There were 37 award recipients in total, including 15 patients, 21 caregivers and the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Support Group at the National Cancer Centre Singapore.
Other recipients included braille transcriber Tan Wee Liam, 64, who received an award in the caregiver category, and his wife Lim Yew Gek, 60, who received an award in the patient category.
Mr Tan, who was born with an eye disease called retinopathy of prematurity, caused by abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina for premature infants, is blind in his right eye.
He is a caregiver to his wife, who began to lose her vision at a young age, accompanying her to various medical appointments and looking after her needs at home.
Madam Lim, who has worked as a receptionist for 40 years, is able to move around on her own and takes care of the cooking at home.
The couple raised a son, who is now 27 and a civil servant.
Speaking at the virtual award ceremony, Senior Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon said the stories of patients and caregivers like Ms Nooridah, Madam Lim and Mr Tan are an inspiration for healthcare professionals and an affirmation of the work they do.
"This pushes us on to continue making a difference in the lives of our patients and their families," he said.