When Ms Tan (not her real name) received a call from their family doctor to bring her mother to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) immediately in late 2020, she thought her mother had met with an accident.
“I was shocked and thought that she fell or fainted as she said she was just going downstairs for a walk,” said the 30-year-old School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences (SHBS) student.
It turned out that Ms Tan’s mother had gone to the general practitioner to check on a hard lump in her breast. After bringing her to multiple medical examinations at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the doctor confirmed that Ms Tan’s mother, who is 64 years old, has stage 4 breast cancer.
Ms Tan felt her world crashing down on her upon hearing the news. She expressed: “I am an only child and very close to my mother. She is my listening ear and my best friend.”
Although there are survivors, the doctor informed Ms Tan that Stage 4 breast cancer patients generally have about five years to live. “It feels like a timebomb,” added Ms Tan.
Ms Tan is the sole breadwinner in the family as both her parents are retired. With her mother’s deteriorating health and exorbitant medical bills, Ms Tan felt she is stretched thin emotionally and financially. She shared: “When I heard the news, I cried almost daily. I know I shouldn’t cry in front of my mum, but sometimes when I look at her, my tears start to flow.”
Her mother remains her greatest source of motivation. “She told me: ‘Don’t worry, I will be strong, I can do it, I will live as long, for you.’”
Last June, Ms Tan chanced upon the SHBS Student Support Fund and decided to apply for it. “I am trying to apply for as much support as I can because I need the money. This funding is equivalent to one module and will help relieve my financial burden,” she said.
Eligible SHBS students will receive up to S$500 in assistance.
The SHBS Student Support Fund was set up in November 2021 to provide short-term financial aid to SHBS students to defray the cost of course materials and tuition fees. Since its establishment, 21 students have benefited from it with each successful applicant receiving up to $500.
Ms Tan was grateful upon hearing that she would receive the fund. “I felt very lucky that I was chosen (to receive the fund). The SHBS Student Support Fund has helped with subsidising (the school fees), so that I can take more modules (in a semester) and graduate faster.”
Since young, Ms Tan dreamt of studying psychology due to her interest in understanding emotions and cognitive behaviours, and providing a listening ear to someone in need. She is currently an active volunteer and does house visits frequently with members of the Ang Mo Kio-Hougang Constituency.
Ms Tan aims to complete her studies by the end of the year and plans to pursue a Master’s in the programme of her choice.
She encourages fellow students in similar situations to be unafraid to seek help from the school if they need it. She assured: “The school is here to support us, and you are not alone in this educational journey. Money shouldn’t hinder you from upgrading yourself for your future.”
All current part-time and full-time SHBS students are eligible to apply for the SHBS Student Support Fund. To apply, SHBS students should complete the application form available on the Student Portal and submit it together with their supporting documents to firstname.lastname@example.org. Decisions on submissions are made in June and December each year, and the outcome will reach applicants via the SUSS email.
If you would like to support our students through the SHBS Student Support Fund, please donate through our website or via the Giving.sg website. Every contribution makes a difference in our students’ lives and we are thankful for your generosity and support.