A Clean Breast and A Love Story

I read a most inspiring book recently. I finished the book with tears in my eyes, being reminded of the power of love and God’s goodness. A Clean Breast is a Breast Cancer’s survivor account, by Theresa Tan.

A Clean Breast Theresa Tan

I must say first that I am not a fan of local authors. Other than that 1-2 books that we had to read for Literature, I’ve not read other local books. It’s a terrible mindset I have that these books are filled with local slangs and phrases, and the characters are modelled after daily soaps on TV.

Well, Theresa Tan is no regular local writer. Her experience as Arts Writer for 8Days, Editor in Chief for Elle Singapore, and Scriptwriter for local theatre made this book an easy read. There were no big bombastic words to describe how she felt when she experienced that pain in her breast. There were no local lehs and lors in her conversations. And best part, there was no pretence in how Theresa fought this cancer battle.

I do not know anyone with Breast Cancer. But reading this book gave me an insight to the emotions, fears and reliefs of a cancer patient and their loved ones. (Theresa included interviews with her husband and kids in the book!) She tells it with the exact emotions she felt at each stage, she shows us her embarrassment when the nurses did their checks, she lays bare the physical and psychological pain she goes through. It was like her sitting in front of you chatting with you over coffee. And you don’t even need to interrupt with questions!

You know what really struck me? It was the great love Theresa and her husband Kevin shared. I mean, the book could have been titled A Clean Breast & A Love Story.

Here’s a very short passage that showed me the simplicity of a husband’s love:

She left, drawing the curtain back, just as Kevin came back. I knew he was dying for a coffee and something to eat. But because I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink, he waited. It’s the little things that he does or doesn’t do, the way he considers my feelings, that make me appreciate this man I married. I can only pray my son will grow to be a gentleman like his father.

Another passage:

It was Valentine’s Day weekend at church. It’s become something of an annual tradition to have all married couples renew their wedding vows together at the Valentine’s Day service.

My heart pounded as I scrambled over knees and feet to get to the aisle, where Kevin was waiting for me with his hand outstretched. We’d done this many times before, but somehow each time was more powerful than the last.

“I, Kevin, take you Theresa to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better and for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish and to obey, as long as we both live, according to God’s holy ordinance; and there to I give you my love”

As I looked into his face, I felt my heart burst and my tear glands tingling. This man truly has lived the vows we took seventeen years ago.

If I quote more excerpts, I’m quite sure your tear glands would tingle along!

From this book, I took away some life lessons:

  1. Insurance: Woah! We got to buy the right insurance. Read the fine print, not every policy covers the various stages of cancer.
  2. Family & Friends: Double Woah! Theresa clearly got through this with a LOT of support. This only came about when she openly shared what was happening with those she loved and trusted.
  3. Faith: Triple Woah Woah Woah! Her faith in God in times when there’s just no where else to place your faith gave her simply more faith to keep going on.

This is a story of a courageous woman who fought hard and well. It is a love story of a couple who gone through much.

To have a glimpse of Theresa Tan’s book, you can find snippets of it in her blog: http://cleanbreast.wordpress.com

A Clean Breast is available is all leading bookstores in Singapore & Malaysia.

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