Jane See was many things: grandmother, mother, aunt, preschool teacher, and plant lover.
But towards the end of her life, there was only one thing she wanted others to know about her; “God saved me and healed me.”
This is an account of how faith sustained her for 20 years as she battled with cancer (nasopharyngeal carcinoma) three times.
For the first 44 years of her life, Jane was a freethinker. In fact, she was sceptical about Christianity due to an unfortunate encounter.
An acquaintance, who was a Christian, was keen on bringing more people to the Lord, but her approach rubbed Jane the wrong way. Said acquaintance kept telling others that only Christians would go to heaven.
“Surely, you need to do more than just say you are a Christian in order to go to heaven,” Jane thought to herself.
But all that changed in 2002, when she had to give up her career as a preschool teacher, as she was diagnosed with stage four cancer.
At 45 years old, with two teenage children and an even younger nephew in her care, cancer is probably the last thing Jane wanted to hear.
The tumour was so big that she remembered junior doctors rushing to get the senior doctors for a consultation. She knew something was seriously wrong when the team of doctors constantly shook their heads as they took turns to look at the MRI scans.
Being the strong woman she was, she initially kept calm and resigned to her fate when she learnt that the prognosis was six months.
Upon hearing the news, her brother, Stanley, asked if he could get his pastor, Dr Tan Kok Beng, to visit her and pray for her. Despite her initial misgivings, she agreed. Through constant prayer and counsel, Jane’s family soon came to the Lord and joined the Mennonite Church of Singapore.
Many years later, Jane admitted that when she first came to Christ, she was a nominal Christian and only did it for the sake of the family. She wanted them to have a source of comfort and solace if she died.
Little did she know that she would soon have a very personal encounter with Jesus.
“God, if you are who they say you are…”
Despite the doctor’s advice of the importance of eating home-cooked food while undergoing treatment, she thought that eating a bowl of porridge from a hawker centre would not hurt. But it landed her in hospital as she fought for her life.
As it was at the height of the SARS epidemic in 2002, Jane was confined to an isolation ward. Her blood pressure was dangerously low, and she could feel herself slipping away as she was very breathless.
Suddenly, she heard her brother’s voice telling her that the members of Mennonite Church are praying for her, followed by the voice of Pastor Tan Kok Beng offering her the assurance that God is there for her.
As she struggled alone in the room, too weak to press the call bell for the nurses, she called out, “God, if you are who they say you are, where are you?”
“I am Jesus from Jerusalem.”
That was all she heard, but that was all she needed. She felt a sense of peace, and she could breathe better. She was discharged a few days later.
As she was a very young Christian, all she knew was that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. When she found out that Bethlehem is in Jerusalem, it strengthened her faith, and sparked a journey that would go on to inspire many others.
Throughout her first treatment, Jane always testified how God has sustained her, especially when she saw other patients, who appeared younger and stronger than her, giving up.
She was surprised and thankful that she only had dryness in her mouth, which came towards the end of the treatment. Despite that, she could still eat normally, which is rare for cancer patients.
What was more surprising to her was her ability to minister to others while undergoing radiotherapy.
There was a teenage boy she often saw when she went for her radiotherapy treatment. His treatment slot would either be just before or after hers.
Throughout her treatment, Jane often read aloud God’s Creative Power for Healing by Charles Capps. It contains encouragement, verses, and proclamations about God’s healing power.
One day, she saw the teenage boy waiting for his treatment. She suddenly felt a strong prompting to pass her copy of the book to the boy. At first, she was unsure of what to do. She was still a young Christian, and was neither a pastor nor a church leader, what should she say to the boy?
The prompting persisted. She knew she had to approach the boy.
When she spoke to the boy and his mother, she realised that they were Mandarin-speaking. This posed a problem as Jane was English-educated. In halting Mandarin, she told the boy not to worry and to thank Jesus every day. With his mother’s permission she also prayed over the boy.
Suddenly, the mother burst into tears. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him smile,” she said.
This was the very first time Jane ministered to someone personally. A couple of weeks later, she did not see the teenage boy; the nurses told her that he had completed his treatment and was resting at home.
This incident further encouraged her and strengthened her faith, as she carried on testifying every chance she got. Her strength, optimism, and faith brought joy and encouragement to everyone.
Her mother-in-law, who was a Buddhist for several decades, was so touched by how resilient and joyful Jane was—despite the difficulties from the side effects— that she decided to convert to Christianity.
Jane’s growing faith led her to enjoy 10 years of remission.
When the cancer recurred, her oncologist, who is a Christian, was so encouraged by her fortitude immediately said one thing to her: “Expect another miracle!”
Steadfast in prayer
While Jane received her second miracle, as she went into remission for a further 10 years, it was not a walk in the park.
Two rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy have taken a toll on her body: severe hearing loss, facial droop, eating difficulties, tooth decay due to dry mouth, among many other side effects.
Yet, Jane was still steadfast in faith and prayer. What touched everyone the most was that the majority of her prayers were for others.
Every morning, after breakfast and reading the Bible or healing scriptures, she would start praying for as many family members, friends, and church members that she could think of before praying for her own healing. This was done without fail regardless of how she was feeling.
If she watched the news and there was a report about something unpleasant, she would immediately say a quick prayer for the person or situation.
Despite having gone through all sorts of painful tests and treatment over the years, Jane would always say yes to any clinical trials in the hopes that the doctors would be better able to treat cancer in the future.
A prayer for God to grant all the doctors and nurses wisdom in their work was always on the list.
Fighting the good fight
In February 2022, her cancer had returned for the second time. A prognosis of three months was given, and she was arranged to receive palliative care at home. Her family did not reveal the prognosis to her, as they wanted to keep her spirits up.
When Jane heard that the cancer had recurred, without batting an eyelid, she asked, “When can I start treatment?”
She would repeat that question throughout the last nine months of her life. She also protested the use of a wheelchair and other mobility aids, and only relented when she was too weak to move about.
This was not due to stubborness or vanity, but she clung to the belief that God would heal her. Thus, she should not be too reliant on the aids; her body needs to be strong enough to fight back and recover.
Every doctor, nurse, therapist, and social worker who visited her at home would hear her testimony of how God has sustained her in the past 20 years.
On top of those mentioned here, she would often repeat other stories such as God protecting her by withholding the rain long enough for her to be baptised, and ensuring that she did not get an infection as she was submerged in sea water not long after her first round of treatment.
“Witnessing her ongoing testimonies and boldness to share her faith, I could experience her commitment to trust and depend on God as her deep source of joy, strength, and courage each day. From her prayers for everyone without fail each day, I could only fathom how much love and care she had for others in spite of her own need for love and care in such trying times,” says Amanda Tay, Senior Social Worker from the Singapore Cancer Society.
Even in the last stretch, God did wonders in Jane’s life. Her prognosis of three months was due to the expectation that the tumour would spread quickly. However, the tumour did not spread at all, allowing her to outlive the prognosis by six months.
In fact, she was strong and alert enough that her oncologist even changed his prognosis, and was considering chemotherapy. Unfortunately, several episodes of lung infection weakened her body, and she finally succumbed to pneumonia, but not cancer.
When Jane was first diagnosed with cancer in 2002, one of her prayers was to be able to see her children graduate and even play with her grandchildren.
Over the course of 20 years, she has seen her children, nephews, and nieces graduate, and she was blessed with three lively grandchildren.