Alice Wong Seow Ping, beat the odds to survive Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)

One difficulty after another arose in Alice’s family after she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

Alice’s doctor told her that a blood stem cell transplant was her only chance of a cure. Unfortunately, her sister was not able to provide a suitable match, and the search for a suitable unrelated stem cell donor began in earnest.

At the same time, Alice’s mother suffered a knee cap fracture after a fall, while her father’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms were triggered because of the state of health of Alice and her mother. Her father was soon diagnosed with both OCD and Parkinson’s disease.

Alice said, “It was a very challenging period for my entire family. My sister had just given birth to my little nephew and had to spend her maternity leave taking care of my parents. All financial burdens fell onto her as she became the sole bread winner for the entire family. I was sad and worried, but what could I do?”

An infection from Alice’s peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line gave her a close brush with death. She shared, “I woke up one day in ICU with many tubes in me, and the doctor removing the PICC line beside me. I only remembered he told me, ‘Do you know what happened to you? We almost lost you.’”

Thankfully, two fully-matched cord blood units were found at the Singapore Cord Blood Bank after a four month search. It was much needed good news for Alice’s family. She began the transplant process immediately in June 2013.

Post-transplant recovery was very difficult for Alice. She contracted several infections and had to be admitted to the hospital multiple times. Alice was even transferred to the ICU due to severe water retention. After being released from the hospital, Alice had to re-learn how to walk, jump and squat after lying in the hospital bed for months without much activity.

Alice said, “Life slowed down after transplant, mainly because my energy level is no longer like before. But now, I treasure my time with my loved ones more. After nearly a year in convalescence, it is not easy to get back to what I used to do and earn. I spent about half-a-year to rebuild my own voice so that I can sing well enough to teach again, spent almost 1.5 years to rebuild my body stamina in order to do full-day stand-up food hygiene training, and have been spending about 2 years to rebuild my studio from scratch.”

“The experience has been financially, physically and mentally very challenging. But I thank God, things are better now.”