Generation Grit

Overcoming obstacles makes her stronger

Doctors said Jean Tan, who was born with a severe cleft palate, would never be able to speak properly. But she defied the odds and became a singer-songwriter. And then she was struck with an incurable kidney condition. This is her story, told to The Straits Times in a series about inspiring millennials.

Born with a severely deformed cleft palate and lip, doctors said Jean Tan would never be able to speak clearly. But the 32-year-old singer-songwriter has defied the odds.
Ms Jean Tan was born with a severe cleft palate and had to have a series of operations to correct the condition. Now a singer-songwriter who has produced three albums - and composed and performed a song for the 2015 Southeast Asian Games - the 32-yea
Ms Jean Tan was born with a severe cleft palate and had to have a series of operations to correct the condition. Now a singer-songwriter who has produced three albums - and composed and performed a song for the 2015 Southeast Asian Games - the 32-year-old has proved all her doubters wrong.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR
Miss Tan, whose full-time job is in the education sector, had six operations to correct her cleft deformity - the first at three months old and the last when she was 18.
Miss Tan, whose full-time job is in the education sector, had six operations to correct her cleft deformity - the first at three months old and the last when she was 18.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

First there was silence. Then gasps and a flurry of activity. The doctor's next words to Madam Ann Png were: "Don't worry, it can be mended."

Madam Png's newborn baby had a severe cleft that sliced through her palate and lip. No one had seen it coming.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2018, with the headline 'Overcoming obstacles makes her stronger'. Subscribe