“Sometimes I feel I am better off dead than face this mountain of bills” – Stage 4 cancer patient’s medical bills cross $750,000 and continue to rise


A Singaporean woman, Donna Lim, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroendocrine tumours – a cancer of the endocrine and nervous systems of the body – after years of doctors just prescribing painkillers to treat a persistent back pain she complained of, is now running out of funds to continue her treatment.

The 37-year-old, who cares for her aging parents, has already spent about $750,000 on her medical bills. While insurance was able to cover some of the cost, the financial burden has depleted her savings – especially since her condition makes her unable to work.

Lim is now appealing for $350,000 that she needs to pay to cover the cost of her last hospital stay. She will also need to undergo another major surgery. Even if that surgery is successful, she will still need to fork out $5000 per month for a necessary injection.

Read her heart-wrenching story here:

I am Donna Lim, 37 years old at the point of writing. I have complained of back pain for several years and GPs have been routinely giving me painkillers before one suddenly realized it might help by sending me to a specialist for a detailed check-up. The scans later showed that I have neuroendocrine tumor cancer stage 4. The news was broken to me on 19 April 2016. My world collapsed. I started making after life plans, though I am single but I have a pair of old aged parents to support. What is going to happen to them? I started to worry. 
Later after countless tests and scans, I was injected with nuclear medicine in a desperate move to shrink the tumor that was growing in me, it had by then hinged to 50% of my liver.  I had a major operation to remove 80% of my liver, part of my small intestines and gallbladder on 19 Dec 2106. Apart from the big monster, I had numerous small growing ones. 
After the major surgery last year which cost almost Sgd300,000, I was told the cancerous tumor in me had been successfully removed but a new regrowth again in my liver. I was discharged for home rest after warded in and out of hospital many times for biles complications. Guess what, I started to develop fever almost everyday. Barely two weeks, I was admitted again. Diagnosis revealed that the nuclear medicine had eroded my lungs and damaged my bile duct. I had 50% of my lungs cut off and heavens did not let me off lightly. I continued to have infections and have 4 tubes attached to my body to drain the abscess in my body. Two days ago, the surgeon told me to undergo the thoracic window procedure immediately or I will lose my fight. For people who are unaware of this procedure, this is a surgical procedure to remove part of the ribs and cut open a 4x4cm hole in the body. This is a World War II procedure to treat pneumonia. 
To-date, I have spent around SGD 750,000 on my medical bills which my insurance coverage has exploded. The last stay (12 May to 26 July) had cost me $346,601.60 alone. Even I was partially covered by insurance, my savings are almost wiped out from my liabilities as I’ve not been able to work since diagnosed 19 Apr 2016. As I am typing this, the estimated bill is SGD 100,000 (doctor cost only). Sometimes I wish I am better off dead then to face this mountain full of bills beside suffering from.all the pain everyday.
Even if this is the last major op (fingers crossed) doc told me its murphy’s law for me. Whatever can happen, will happen, i have to embark on $5000 per month injection for the rest of my life which I do not know how long I’ll live till then. Will I have enough for all these treatments? 
I appeal for help. I may be an entire stranger to you but I will appreciate any monetary amount. Every dollar and cent is important to me now. 
I thank you all in advance. God bless!

To give, please visit give.asia/story/help_donna_-running_out_of_funds_to_continue_treatment.


    • Sometimes you are
      unsatisfied with your life,

      while many people in
      this world are dreaming
      of living your life..

      A child on a farm sees
      a plane fly overhead &
      dreams of flying.

      A pilot on the plane sees
      the farmhouse & dreams
      of returning home.

      That’s life!!
      Enjoy yours…

      If wealth is the secret to

      then the rich should be dancing on the streets.

      But only poor kids
      do that.

      If power ensures security,
      then VIPs should walk

      But those who live simply, sleep soundly.

      If beauty and fame bring
      ideal relationships,

      then celebrities should have the best marriages.

      Live simply.
      Walk humbly.
      and love genuinely…!
      Is still relevant till today…

    • i don’t think the remark is flippant bcos it’s one man’s philosophy on life. i would end my own life under the circumstances but agree it’s her choice to stay and fight so kudos to that.

    • Stage 4 equates to final stage. Stage 1, 2, 2B, 3 ,3B and finally stage 4. Do have the best quality of life.. whilst One can.. cause Stage 4, cancer cells mutates at its fiercest momentum..

    • Marc Wang it’s not a flippant remark but let’s be realistic. Who has to suffer the pain and agony? The living family members?

      Prolonging her suffering just because they can’t deal with loss?

    • Marc Wang I’m not mean, I’m being practical and realistic. Spending all the money to prolong (no guarantee) your life or half a life for what?

      You think I’m mean? She is the one who has to bear with the pain and what not every single second. Can you even feel her pain? You have a rough concept of what the pain might be like only.

    • I wonder if you have your love one on the sick bed, would you tell he or she to go out and enjoy themselves while they can? Mind you, if it is a stage 4 cancel.

    • Peter Lim yes! I have spoken to my parents about my view and they agree with me. In fact it is their wish that if they are ill with stage 4 cancer or some terminal illness, do not bother with treatment. They would rather spend the money on living the little time they have left.

      Btw, stage 4 cancer doesn’t necessarily mean will be bedridden or bed bound. I have seen stage 4 patients going on holidays and jumping out of planes everyday till the last day.

    • You have a choice to not contribute, or to end your life should you face the same situation. As it is her choice to fight on, for any reasons she deems fit to fight on. She did not demand for everyone to contribute, but a plea for help if people wish to, within their means. You may have seen patients with stage 4 cancer doing life differently, but please understand that every patient goes through a different journey. Unless we have walked the very same path ourselves, get off your high horse and stop the assumption that what’s best for you is ideal for everyone else.

    • Muihong Chua oh you’re telling me not to do the same thing you are telling me to!

      Yah get off your high horse and assume my view must be the same as yours.

      Like i said, if you don’t like my view, you can move on. I don’t need your approval for my view. Neither do I need your two cents worth. So stop with the holier than thou attitude and feel you have to tell me your view.

      She is appealing for help based on what merit? Because she spent her whole life contributing to Singapore and for Singaporeans? If she did, I would make a contribution.

    • Muihong Chua and don’t be ridiculous, no two person will walk the very same path. Even identical twins will walk different path

      Stop using this lame excuse as a reason to tell strangers they have no right to judge you and your actions.

    • I agree with Michael. I think she should receive care in less pain and not anguish about the looming bills. I am sad to think that our national hospital will fail Singaporeans who are in dire need. If the hospital will provide her medical needs than there is no need to raise funds from Singaporeans who are also tax payers. How the ruling party fail us? This will happen to us.

    • My dad is a stage 4 liver cancer patient at the yr 2005, and had only just gone to another world last month. Stage 4 doesn’t mean a death sentence, but it is not easy to deal with huge heavy bill from hospital.

    • Jasen Lee I wouldn’t know till I’m in that stage. I can imagine, but it’ll be an optimistic one.

      I’ll certainly NOT be drowning in self pity nor asking Singaporeans to please give me money to save me.

      But what I do know is I have friends in a community who will support me physically to jump out of planes everyday, weather permitting, till the day I breathe my last breath. I would not be seeking treatment hoping to prolong my life.

    • There is no simple way to keep healthy. many of our food are treated with many process that even the government agency have no idea what they will do to human s after years of consumption.

  1. Isn’t it sad we have come to a point where whether or not to save a person’s life is dependent on the wealth of that person? Every life can be monetize.

    • I’ll donate money for the funeral arrangement. I’m being realistic instead of idealistic.

      You can call me cold hearted but prolonging her life is making her suffer the pain and the agony.
      The living often failed to realize, in their inability to cope with loss, they make the one that is ill to suffer longer.

    • Cheryl P Michelle her family should learn to take care of themselves. They are grown ups. Perhaps this incident would teach them to plan better for rainy days instead of thinking of asking for handouts.

    • If the funds is raised for the parents, it won’t be in her estate and used to pay all the medical bills and debts. Otherwise, the parents get nothing if it is raised for her meds bills.

    • We are like spectators watching a lion in it’s cage. It’s surrounded by metal bars & we are watching it from a “safe” distance. Never thinking that one day it may break out. Some of us might even throw pebbles at it thinking we are safe.
      In normal situation we’ll think it might not happen to us. Even in the event it does we just run or there’s security coming to our rescue.
      But if it really happens, do you have the right frame of mind to handle the situation?
      Many cancer patients are like that. Their minds are so frozen that they won’t know what to do. Next thing they know are they are up for oncologists treatments & tests. The bills began to stack & in no time, it’s mountain high. No one will want to be in this predicament voluntarily. We do what we can to help. End of the day, We can but pray for them.

    • Asking $10 from each of us.. might as well go ask $1million from one of the minister. Some minister hold so many directorship that $1million is like $10 to him.

    • Just donate whatever amount you can afford. She wants to live and is fighting to live. Person under circumstances will hope to live even it is only a 10% chance. Let accord her the small chance by lightening her financial worries and leave her to fight uphill battle without impediment. Amen.

    • Ken Mansukhani for several years now. Have also heard of relapse cases for lower stages of cancer. My point is, relapses can happen regardless of stage but i’m merely responding to Sarif’s statement that Stage 4 leads to inevitable death which is not necessarily true.

    • Stage 4 cancer takes a heavy toll on the person, mentally and physically, not to mention immediate family members too. The chance of recovery is very low but not impossible. If the victim has a strong will to recover and a fighting spirit, then go for it and cost permitting, attempt all possible medical treatments to recover. The alternative probably, if the patient wants to minimise the long drawn pains and frequent ‘in/out’ of hospitals, is to opt for palliative care.

    • agreed. not all doctors and hospitals have money face. Sad to say Singapore hospitals are not serious about saving lives. Go back to diets prescribed by our Creator. He has used nature, particularly fruits and vegetables of all colors to help us


  2. In Singapore you can afford to die, and yet you have to pay GST to the Govt., for your final expenses. Will the doctors waive the fees for her?? Is life all about money and the surgeon or doctors care for their pockets or saves lives…??

    Is there a God????

  3. What is her Medishield Life doing? There is also Medifund for those who cannot afford. Ministers have been going round telling everyone not to worry. No one will be deny medical treatment if they cannot pay. So this is the time the government should act.

    • Exactly! There was so much of publicity on Medishield Life when it was launched to significantly cater to high medical bills if the patient checks into ‘C’ class ward of a govt hospital. Was all her medical treatment done in a Govt hospital or private hospital.Is it mentioned anywhere? Or is there something amiss here about MS Life?

    • Yes,just heard fr one mp.He say Medifund can help.no need to sell ur hse to pay bill.How true is this?
      If she really has gone home to the Lord,then No need to pay lah.If Govt still want to come after fam for bill ask them to go look for her in the other world.

    • Agreed. What exactly is the use of CPF Medishield Life if it can’t cover this. We are forced to pay annual premiums even though we may already have our own insurance coverage

  4. Actually to be honest, if I have to go through all these n hardly any chance to recover, I rather just live the rest of my days with my loved ones instead of being in hospital. I also rather raise funds to care for my family than for my medical bills.. But to each his own la…

    • Its easy to hypothesize the “ifs” as long as we’re not the one going through it. If it did happened i believe it won’t be as straightforward as that.

    • Ismail Tan Ok, maybe I share with u my background. I’m epileptic and was recommended to go through surgery, but it’s the brain, anything can go wrong. And even if I don’t die, I might have motor skills problem, I might have speech problems, andI still need to be on medication for life. So I told the neuro, forget it, if I’m meant to die, then so be it. Thankfully for me my current meds work v well, but it took years of adjustments and trial and error, but it doesn’t mean I wont get a relapse as well. Just imagine what happens if I was crossing the road, got a relapse and kanna hit by a car who couldn’t stop in time? Or bite my tongue in my sleep? But basically, my point is, if surgery can’t cure me, I don’t see the point of burdening myself and my family with it.

    • Pam Elanessa Wong can understand what you mean but definitely will never understand the agony u are going through. Some don’t understand the pain you and loved ones are going through.

      God bless you and hope your condition improves.

    • Pam Elanessa Wong : Fair and reasonable of you. But, why ‘burdening myself and my family with it’? Health is the RESPONSIBILITY of the government. There must be the focus on Healthcare instead of the government losing our hard earned taxes and even CPF on mammoth losses in poor investments. In 2016, Temasek reported a loss of $26 billion. There’s much more than this! Yes, the government’s must NOT involve themselves too much in business as they are now. Their most important duty is to PROTECT and attend to the needs of the PEOPLE. They are NOT businessmen or women! If they are obsessed with money they should join the non-government multi-national companies in a senior executive position or the CEO. That way they’ll earn millions.

    • Pam Elanessa Wong your entire story clearly pointed out its not as straigtforward as you think. And your mentioned alot of “ifs” again. I sympathize your condition but your experience and this lady’s experience may be similar but its definitely not the same.

    • Daniel Ong exactly!! Why do we have to pay till we die for healthcare??! In Singapore it’s really cheaper to die than fall sick! Overseas, medical costs are heavily subsidized! Yes their taxes are higher but I feel they are more protected! Here, our gvt only want to milk us dry n can’t even let us die peacefully.

    • To each his own. Read her posts and you’ll sense the grit in her to fight on and not give up. She wrote about her ordeal in a rather matter-of-fact manner, without wallowing in self-pity or blaming the bad hand fate has dealt her. I think we can all do well to encourage and to support her within our means, regardless of her survival chances.

  5. CPF healthshield or whatever should rightfully take care of her medical bills.

    When a person is sick, he or she should focus on getting the necessary treatment and getting well soon: not worrying about medical bills.


    • Oh really? My sister was warded in hospital for kidney. Every the hospital coordinators kept asking her for payment deposit first. In the end I had to use my medisave to help her out.

    • Ikhram Serjtankian that’s because the govt doesn’t care a damn. Better life? If life is so good, why does so many go to Singapore to work and for permanent residence?

    • our country is not perfect so does yours .. but living in Malaysia will leave you with so much option .. and so many of your citizen comes to johor to seek treatment coz its so bloody expensive there ..

    • I fully agreed that when it comes to help her people, Malaysia is definitely a lot better than Singapore. Malaysia has a government who cares whilst in SG, we have a government who care to suck money from her people; worst still, paid your own money back to you in installment. Worst than Ah Long

    • It’s better to have a poor country that helps its citizens than a rich country that helps nobody. Btw Malaysia’s economy is growing just a matter of time it will overtake Singapore. Just look at China for example.

    • Before everyone start praising Malaysia as a better system, look at your skin color and race. Talk to a Malay and hardly you’ll find one who will say the govt is bad, more praises if you’re Malay and a civil servant. Talk to a Chinese and Indian and you’ll hear a different story. Well, unless you’re a Bumi.

      But the Malaysian system is good if you’re on the other side of the law, money makes the world go round.

      Foreigners in Singapore cannot run the local born and bred down if the latter has pride. However, how could you expect to be respected as Singaporeans if you’re not even proud to be one and join in running your own country down?

    • Chris Chow you’re the one who should grow some fucking brains. In fact I think that’s quite impossible for you if you hadn’t already have some brain.

      But it’s alright. I’ll forgive you after all how could you even know you don’t have any brain.

    • Francis Lau the red dot doesn’t belong to you just because you’re born and bred. It’ll only belong to you if you contribute something to it.
      Your grandfather probably felt proud because he worked to make Singapore better and so he felt a sense of belonging.
      What have you done?

    • Jasen Lee just pay for 1 ringgit equal to maybe 30sen sing.
      Corruption cant stop.. Everywhere is corrupt. Why must pay yr president and PM million dollar for they salary. The highest salary in the world! Shame on Singaporean ppls who gov cannot help for people. Useless.

    • The govt subsidies comes from taxpayers which are non Muslim. So the country of Non Muslims are disadvantaged at every corner so the govt can subsidize the muslims and the Bumi. Well done!

    • I laugh whenever people suggest malaysia cannot overtake singapore… Whats there to overtake? They are bigger, have more resources, have more talent, have more sea games medal, have a better football team and association. Singapore have a better gdp figure. Don’t start to get arrogant just because our state media continously belittle our neighbours.

    • Michael G R Lum 70% budi in Malaysia, how can you said non Muslim contributed more then?
      Doesn’t make sense.
      At least people money goes back to people’s. Not to selfish gov who get paid more and don’t border to rakyat !
      In fact nothing great in Singapore, tallest building, economic all sources from foreigners.. Don’t be arrogant.
      You just have piece of land only lah!

    • Yes, Malaysia is better than Singapore in many aspect. Cheaper medical, car, cost of living r some of them. If the government is less corrupt n racist, I will chose Malaysia over Singapore anytime. The Singapore model is causing too much anguish n suffering to those not well of but paradise for those with lots of $.

    • Malaysian is not racist, but sometimes political agenda,gov will play card of racist to divided the vote of opposition.
      Looking forward to have good gov term of less corruption and giving more to ppls benefit

    • Lee Chin Hong this is an ill-informed comment. In Malaysia, there are plenty of options with varying cost. I think you need to check the definition of ‘upper income’.

    • Tell me lkhram..what is the rate of ringgit to sing dollar.. before the scandal of 1MDB..and what is the exchange rate to sing dollar at present..the good or bad administration of any country..especialy countries which practices corription contradict to islamic law..has its currency interechange to global currency..and on regards to foreseen rate is Sd $100 is to RM 500..mark my word this will come true..and the house am planning to purchase at JB will devaluate ..

    • Daniel Ab don’t compare with dollar stupid, if you say so, pls Compare with Kuwait Dinnar.
      You get paid salary with dollar and living in Singapore, than you know how tough your life!
      I been to shanghai, country were very developed n high tech, but living in shanghai like hell! All expensive. Yr comparison so childish! Figures bring you nothing

    • no matter what i love my country malaysia … say whatever .. atleast in malaysia everyone can have a car .. we can go where ever we want .. enjoy the joyride .. and i think singaporeans enjoy coming to malaysia too coz all the entertaintment they can have is the pathetic sentosa and their “glorious” garden by the bay. btw, singapore MRT sucks … especially during peak hour . so bloody slow ..

  6. Sad truth but make the decision n stop any further treatment. I hv cared for two close friends spent over 3million dollars here actually it’s like throwing salts into the sea. Seen a few more n even donored my blood twice a week. Sadly they take no prisoners. Ur chances is certainly better with God.

  7. Government always said a lot. When asked for monetary help, it’s impossible. Maybe they will dig up all your family records or asked u to sell your house to pay.

  8. ‘years of doctors just prescribing painkillers to treat a persistent pain’ Something is really very wrong . If the pain persists after a certain period of time (probably weeks or a month) any experienced, truly concerned doctor would subject the patient to more accurate medical procedures eg blood sample analysis, CT scan, MRI etc to identify the cause. Most cancers progress from stage 1 to stage 4 (some people close to me have had various cancers and recovered). If the cancer is detected in the early stages (1 &2) by proper and accurate procedures, there is a high chance of recovery with modern treatments. Very sorry to hear about Ms Donna Lim’s terrible ordeal and sufferings. Do hope she receives the blessing she needs, soon.

  9. She is too blur to forget who can really help her !
    Our selected president Halimah holds the golden key to our huge reserves of billions of dollars!
    For Halimah, the amount she requested for help is just a peanut in her eyes, certainly Halimah will visit her as she displayed her banner of so good, do now!

  10. It is time people start to realize, buying insurance is IMPORTANT when you are able bodied. So find out the real cost of critical illness treatment and buy more than enough. If you save on the premium today, you’ll regret when you need it in future.

    Also realize this, buying insurance is NOT for yourself, it is so you will not become a financial burden to your family and loved ones before AND after your death.

    So buy more than enough insurance NOW!

    P.S. I am NOT an insurance agent.

    To the families with a loved one critically ill, you are not being loving and caring by prolonging the suffering of your loved one. Do realize this, it is your inability to deal with loss. So don’t be a selfish prick!

    You do not have to agree with my view and realize this too, I DO NOT NEED YOUR APPROVAL either!

  11. So many proofs of marijuana curing cancer but no… it’s a highly dangerous drug that has killed no one and needs to be banned for good… chemo on the other hand…

  12. Yes I agreed with you. Now spore Hospital terrible la. They just draw high salary from the government. Don’t care the patients live or die. I also one of a victim Low Back pain no suffered for any cervical spine C3/4(Neck) problem. Tan Tock Seng Hospital(TTSH) Dr Ernest Wang insisted said the problem was
    on my cervical spine C3/4(Neck) Dr Ernest Wang said to me patient said if I did not do surgery on my cervical spine C3/4(Neck) I could become paralysed. Dr Ernest Wang said to me patient. Said trusted him. He got confident to do for me the surgery. Dr Ernest Wang said surgery is to prevent my condition getting worse and worsen due to paralysed. After surgery performed by Dr Ernest Wang badly compressed the spinal cord. Cause me permanently disability. Lose of earnings capacity. Tan Tock Seng Hospital(TTSH) and Dr Ernest Wang don’t bear for any responsibility. Even spore Government don’t care at all. Very unfairly and unhealthy to our citizens. If spore government don’t seriously look into all this matters sure were lose the confident to our citizens.

  13. One of my Friend also diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He Everydays drinking Beer enjoy life. Some more say he now trying to draw out all his CPF money to enjoy.

  14. Why suck from people with high medical bills when they are just living a normal life without any additional perks. Unlike the elite, not a problem. Kill your own citizens..

  15. Where is the money each time TV show doing charity or president charity. Isn’t they helping those cancer patients. So where all the donation funds went into. Weird question

  16. Do you all the the pain of suffering from cancer?
    Opium cannot even relief the pain.
    The patient will be screaming like hell. The cancer cells attacking.
    My late grandma and father suffered and died of cancer.
    Seeing that like this, how would you all feel?
    Talking is easy, have some just some feelings and pray for them.
    Pray to God to lessen the sufferings.
    After going chemo, the patient are so tired and the pain they are suffering.
    I really disagree with those who don’t pity or sympathize with them.
    Feel your “heart”, if you have one.

  17. We don’t know the exact details of her case. The prognosis of the cancer was unknown but looking at what she’s going through, it doesn’t looks good.
    My ex boss had stage 4 cancer, a very aggressive type of stomach cancer at age 36. He was rich, so could seek medical help from top doctors. In total he spent about $800,000. At the end, he was down to skin and skeleton. Passed away in one year. The monies he spent prolonged his life by perhaps a few months. His wife and son was financially stable. Looking back at all the medical tests, operations and pains, perhaps it would be better to consider palliative care. Spending quality time with your loved ones and enjoying the last bit of life perhaps is much better than all the cuts, needles and tubes. Besides, it would be nice to leave knowing that your loved ones has the financial means to carry on with their lives.
    We don’t have to fight everything all time. At times, we need to learn to let go.

  18. Sad truth is doctors Keep Asking of your insurance coverage to see if u can afford the medications and treatment???? Why??? Is it because they will treat u better with money in hand??

    • actually when doctor ask to see ur coverage is not about you can pay for their doctor fees… their fees are actually not that high compared to the equipment/medication fees that the hospital will charge you. i have seen doctors waived their own fees but patients will still have to pay the hospital for the equipment/medication fees and hospital will not be able to waive their fees cos they need to feed so many people under their employment.

  19. To all the ill-informed. This doesn’t just happen in Singapore. Today we just lost a friend who was battling cancer and was undergoing “treatment” in Malaysia. Chemo kills. They know it. They still do it. Singapore, Malaysia, and the rest of the world. It’s your life. Take charge.

  20. My 85 year old friend was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer nearly 2 months ago n DOCTOR told her she has only 6 to 9 months . She took ONE dose of chemo but opt out come Oct 12 she is on a flight oversea with her family she looks good feels fine n enjoying life (like always) – STRESS is the killer n I hv yet to see her proof the doctors/specialists wrong.

  21. So Mr.ihkram before u start throwing rocks at singapore’s flaws..and peeking under our sarong.take note that u too wears sarong.and whatever under there u are actually showing the whole world that ur bontot got kurap.

  22. President can spend over 200k during election campaign alone what about pay check later?There are super $$$ rich people around asking a poor church mouse to pay is a bit too much to give?

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