Alison Wee_Mar2024

"It's okay to put on a wig. It makes me feel better," says cancer patient Alison Wee, who urges: "Even if you are diagnosed with cancer, don’t give up." Photo by Emilyn Tan. All other photos courtesy of Alison Wee unless otherwise stated.

Alison Wee was 35 when she was plagued by a persistent pain in her right ribs.

When she sought help at a hospital A&E, she found out that cancer had spread so extensively throughout her body that surgery would be pointless.

Her liver was 70% riddled with tumours, and there were also malignancies in her breast and spine.

She would not survive beyond three months if treatment did not begin right away.

“It was actually really bad. The PET scan was lighted up all over.”

That Wednesday in December 2022, Alison’s life took a left turn. Such a dire prognosis did not take into account the family she had to live for and the faith she had to live by.

“It was actually really bad. The PET scan was lighted up all over,” Alison told Salt&Light, referring to the multitude of bright spots indicating where cancer tumours were in her body.

In addition: “Tests showed that my entire liver was not functioning. All the levels were down.

“But I still didn’t have jaundice. I was still all right and able to eat, able to do things.”

Going back to work

To Alison, her reality was far from that of a person drawing perilously close to death.

The stay-home mum of four was planning to return to the workforce and, meanwhile, was taking part in the Mrs Singapore Chinatown 2022 beauty pageant.

She was warded. But three days and one chemotherapy session later, she asked her doctor for two hours off to take part in the second-last round of the pageant.

“I thought, ‘It’s not like if I don’t go, things will be different for me. Nothing’s going to change, so why not? Let’s just do it,'” she reasoned.

Spice of life: In the cooking segment of the Mrs Singapore Chinatown 2022 pageant, Alison made popiah. Screengrab from blogpost.

Her friends were in disbelief.

So was her husband. Even now, the procurement professional refuses to accept that his wife’s condition is considered “severe”.

“He was like, okay, you just do whatever you want to do,” Alison related.

From hospital bed to catwalk: Even after undergoing chemotherapy, Alison won the place of first runner-up in the Mrs Singapore Chinatown 2022 beauty pageant. Screengrab from

Stunning feat: Alison (in yellow cheongsam) shocked the nurses when she dressed up and left the hospital for two hours. Photo from Alison’s Instagram page.

With that, Alison put on her best cheongsam and stood tall in high-heeled shoes, stunning the nurses and other ward staff by getting into a taxi accompanied by a friend.

To her surprise and the delight of all who were rooting for her, she was crowned first runner-up.

And none too soon. Her hair started falling out in clumps not long afterward.

Hair raising

“My scalp one day suddenly felt very, very sensitive,” she described animatedly. “Then I felt a sharp pain and the hair just fell off.

“When I laid on the pillow, I would get up with a bald spot. So, I combed my hair away until there were just a few patches left.”

Bald truth: As her hair began to fall due to chemotherapy, Alison combed out the clumps herself.

Her husband could not bear to help her shave her head, so “in the end I took my eyebrow shaver and did it myself.”

“One month later, I went back for a second PET scan and the cancer was gone, totally gone.”

Although her hair has grown, it is short. Nonplussed, she wears a wig bought from the Breast Cancer Foundation.

“A lot of people ask me, why not just put on a scarf? I find it’s not so nice. Sometimes it doesn’t match the clothes I wear.

“I don’t want to look frail and sick, like I’m a patient. Although we are under treatment, we still can feel good about ourselves.

“Putting on a wig makes me feel better.”

Her focus on self-care is intentional. “I used to have low self-esteem,” she said.

“When you are not earning any income, you feel insecure and you tend to feel very small.

“For 10 years, most of the time I was at home with my children.”

Picture perfect: Their three sons and daughter are the joy of Alison and her husband’s lives.

Clean-up crew: Ever supportive, the entire family rallied around Alison for the cooking segment of the Mrs Singapore Chinatown 2022 pageant.

In 2022, she wanted to return to insurance sales, but felt she lacked confidence and communication skills. 

“But to be in sales I needed to be able to speak up. The pageant was something that I felt could help me. That’s why I joined,” she explained.

The God connection

Stepping up to the pageant’s demands not only emboldened Alison, it renewed a friendship as well as her relationship with God.

Jasmine, an old friend whom she bumped into through the pageant, was instrumental in her return to church.

Alison is now a regular at City Harvest Church (CHC).

“God was trying to bring me back,” she testified. As a child and teen, she had gone to church with her grandmother in her native Malaysia.

She also attended church when she first moved to Singapore to work after graduating from university.

Back in Malaysia: Alison is the eldest child in her family, pictured here with her parents and two brothers.

Marriage and family life interrupted her walk of faith. But that changed with God placing people at crossroads to point her back to Him. 

“I chose to believe God, and He actually showed me a miracle.”

For example, the pain in her ribs arose only after she had gone back to work in the insurance industry. Well-connected with medical specialists, her boss was able to refer her to a gastroenterologist in private practice and a CT scan was done that same afternoon.

The gastroenterologist was experienced enough to suspect the worst, and a colonoscopy was arranged for the next day, followed by the PET scan.

On the third day, a liver biopsy was done.

Preventative care: The chemotherapy session once every three weeks is a time for Alison “to rest”.

When Alison broke the bad news to Jasmine, she wept. “She asked me how I still can laugh as if there’s nothing to worry about.”

Instead of panicking, Alison made a simple request for prayer, and her entire community responded in intercession: “My City Harvest cell group, my friends and the people that I met through the pageant.”

BFFs through thick and thin: Alison and Jasmine took to the Pink Ribbon Walk 2023 together last October.

“One month after my diagnosis, I went back for a second PET scan and the entire screen was clear. The cancer was gone, totally gone.

“I don’t believe it’s only as a result of the treatment. I chose to believe God, and He actually showed me a miracle.”

Beyond remission

Alison clarified that there is “no such thing as remission” for her.

She has to continue “maintenance” chemotherapy once every three weeks for the rest of her life.

While chemotherapy has been known to stave off further spread of the disease, it is not foolproof.

Last June, she experienced bouts of nausea, which prompted her oncologist to order an MRI of her brain.

“There were more than 50 tiny tumours spread across the brain.”

“True enough, my entire brain was filled with tumours. The doctor said that usually people have one big tumour or two, but for my case there were more than 50 tiny tumours spread across the brain.”

Again, Jasmine was with her at the clinic. “At that point I felt very confident because I was already healed once, so I told her that maybe God just wants to challenge my faith again.

“‘Do you believe that I will heal you again?’

“I believe.” (John 11:40)

She had no qualms about undergoing 10 “little” rounds of radiotherapy, 10 minutes daily for 10 days. “I did weekdays. On weekends I rested.”

No fear: Alison rides with the ups and downs of cancer treatment and takes each day as it comes.

No loss: Alison’s radiotherapy regime of 10-minute sessions stretched over 10 working days.

She recounted: “The first day was really bad. On the way home, I started to feel very nauseous and suddenly pain kicked in.”

Alison chose to sleep off the effects. By the grace of God, that difficult season soon passed.

A “necessary” circumstance

The cancer in her brain has not been eradicated. Of particular concern are two tumours near the part that controls memory. At the post-radiotherapy review, her doctor asked questions like: “What is 100 minus 7?”

“I thought he was joking!” Alison said. “Then he said, ‘What did you have for lunch yesterday?’ ” He was checking for memory loss, and there was none, to her relief.

“Even though I needed to go through the radiotherapy, I was protected. I see it as a miracle.”

She said: “Even though I needed to go through radiotherapy, I was protected. I see it as a miracle.

“I believe that I will be healed, and I don’t think it is by receiving treatment. I think it’s very much about believing, about having faith – you believe even though you don’t see it. (Hebrews 11:1)

“You have to believe even before it happens.” 

She takes each day as it comes, but dying has “crossed my mind”, she admitted.

“But whether I die or not, it doesn’t affect me anymore because I believe even if we die, we don’t really ‘die’; we are actually going somewhere else to continue our journey.

Blessed to bless: Alison was baptised by CHC Senior Pastor Kong Hee last December and shared her testimony in church.

“I didn’t go to church for many years, but deep in my heart, I believed God was with me.

“When this happened, somehow I felt the Holy Spirit breaking through to my mind and I didn’t question, ‘Why? Why did this happen to me?’

“I felt that maybe God knew that I am able to go through this, so I never questioned. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“Somehow I felt that this was necessary. Nothing happens for no reason.”

Pressing on

Life goes on. Alison’s family manages without domestic help, and housework and laundry are shared by husband and wife. 

“It doesn’t end here, because there is an after-life; there is everlasting life.” 

High on her priority list is for her four children, now aged between four and 12, to own their faith.

“I want my children to understand more about Christ,” she said. “They are still very young so I’m just trying. This is my mission here, and also to continue to bring them to church.

“It’s a way to comfort their hearts, to know that we are only having this journey together as a family on earth. But it doesn’t end here, because there is an afterlife; there is everlasting life.” (John 11:25-26)

She also takes every opportunity to speak publicly about her journey with cancer.

Invited to share her testimony at a CHC Candlelight service last Christmas, Alison, who is 37 this year and now working as a financial advisor, showed herself to be a newly confident person.

Alison’s priority now is on raising her four children to know Christ and grow up in the ways of the Lord, and to know that they will see her in eternity.

Her message: “A lot of people are afraid of cancer treatment like chemotherapy. When they know that they don’t have much time, they think, ‘I don’t want to suffer.’

“They say, ‘If you have only got three months, and you’re going to suffer all the way till the day comes, why not just go travel, do whatever you want and enjoy your three months rather than suffer?’

“I want to let people know it’s not always like that. There are cases like that but not all. You can still receive treatment and live.

“I just want people to know that even if you are diagnosed with cancer, don’t give up. Receive the news and accept the truth, but don’t give up.”


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About the author

Emilyn Tan

After years of spending morning, noon and night in newsrooms, Emilyn gave it up to spend morning, noon and night at home, in the hope that someday she’d have an epiphany of God with His hands in the suds, washing the dishes too.