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Celebrating Mothers
29 April 2022

Mdm Lim, who was a full-time caregiver for her son before she developed cancer, exemplifies the essence of a mother’s love – strong, selfless and nurturing.

By Toh Wei Shi, HCA Community Relations

There is a quote that goes: “A mother is your first friend, your best friend, your forever friend.”

For HCA Star PALS patient Oh Boon Keng, 32, his mother’s loving presence has been a faithful companion for over three decades. Born with muscular dystrophy, the genetic condition has hindered Boon Keng’s physical functions, and he requires assistance with daily activities. He vividly recalls how his mother, Mdm Lim Kwee Lan, 73, used to wake up several times each night, for over 20 years, to turn his body and adjust his limbs, to prevent bedsores.

Today, Mdm Lim, who is also a HCA patient, is no longer able to attend to his needs through the wee hours of the morning. But like clockwork, she still wakes up instinctively every hour, ready to adjust her son’s limbs, even though she can no longer get out of bed without assistance.

An insightful young man who recently published a book, Can I Love?, Boon Keng is deeply thankful for his mother’s support. “Mum would spend hours waiting for me during my polytechnic and university days, as I needed her help in toileting,” says Boon Keng. “She would just wait outside the lecture hall or classroom while I was attending lessons.”

Mdm Lim with Boon Keng and his sister at HortPark.

For Boon Keng and his sisters, Mdm Lim is a beacon of endless strength and resilience, juggling multiple jobs while caring for their emotional and physical needs. “Mum worked almost every day, taking on different stints as a seamstress, dishwasher and nanny, amongst others,” shares Priscilla, Boon Keng’s sister. Despite the intense work schedule, Mdm Lim always made time to take her children out for some playtime. “On her occasional rest days, she would always take us to our relatives’ homes to spend time and play with our cousins,” Priscilla says.

Mdm Lim and her beloved children at a restaurant.

It is not uncommon for parents to be consumed by the needs of their differently abled child, at the expense of other children who may not have as many immediate needs, but Priscilla credits her mother for giving each child the attention they needed. “She attended to Boon Keng’s needs, while also making sure my sisters and I were well-cared for.”

Creating Memories

After Mdm Lim was diagnosed with cancer, she endured numerous rounds of treatment before being referred to HCA. “She went through many rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy but never once complained about the pain or discomfort, because she didn’t want to burden us,” Priscilla says. “She simply wants to be with us and create more precious memories.”

Mdm Lim on a recent trip to Kusu Island with two of her daughters.

“Mum is currently unable to walk and get out of bed without assistance. Despite the difficulties she faces, she does not hesitate to join us on outings and values every moment spent with us.”

Weakened by illness, Mdm Lim has become more reserved, but it is evident that her children are her pride and joy. Her face briefly lit up as she shared about Boon Keng’s passion for singing and song writing.

A Mother’s Love

“In the past, I occasionally got on the news for my academic, sports or music achievements, etc.,” Boon Keng says. “Whenever she was interviewed about her hopes for me or what kept her going to care for me, her reply was very simple – she would always be happy to support whatever I want to do, as long as I am happy.”

“I wish to thank her for her selfless care and love over the past decades. I will be well and happy.”

From providing medical and psychosocial support to Boon Keng, and subsequently, Mdm Lim, it is HCA’s continuing mission to bring comfort to patients and their families. This Mother's Day, we honour the selflessness of mothers like Mdm Lim, who has devoted decades to caring for her children. Journey with us to add life to days – together, we can go further. Click here to support our work**.

**This year, we are partnering with Camera Kakis, a group of photographers who have kindly offered a complimentary photography session for the first 50 donors to respond to our appeal with a donation of $888 and above. We will inform eligible donors within 2 weeks after the donation is received.

Can I Love? is available for purchase on https://canilove.sg/