Singapore — On Thursday (Jan 7), former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong took to social media to mark his 12th radiation session. He also noted that he had lunch that day with some friends, which helped him feel “less lonesome”.
The 79-year-old Mr Goh has been very open with his health challenges in the past few months, in part to advocate for taking health screenings, because the early detection of a particular health condition could make a big difference in one’s survival rate.
Mr Goh explained then that squamous cells had been found in the nodule in his larynx, but, “fortunately, after excision, the MRI of the neck and the CT scan of the chest showed no trace of these bad cells”.
However, he was still required to undergo 20 sessions of radiation therapy, the first of which was held on Dec 23.
By Jan 7, he was marking session number 12.
“Today marks the 12th session of my radiation treatment,” he wrote on his Facebook page, fittingly called MParader, as he had served as a Member of Parliament for Marine Parade from 1976 through 2020. He stepped down last year, announcing that he would not be seeking re-election.
Mr Goh added that the effects of the radiation treatments have been mild.
“Other than the muffled, breathy voice and a mild soreness in the throat, I feel fine.”
Still, the former Prime Minister has had some challenging days of late, and he hinted as much when he expressed gratitude for being able to lunch with friends.
“Lunched with friends whom I have not seen for some months. Sure glad to see them. You feel less lonesome.”
Last month, in another post about his health, he wrote: “Just like the weather these days, it never rains but pours for me medically… What a way to celebrate the festive season!”
Mr Goh has said that he shares his “medical episodes” for a purpose, to encourage every person to have their regular or yearly health screenings.
And while he wrote that he does not have a subsidised programme for screening for potential illnesses, the Ministry of Health does have a subsidised Screen for Life programme for all Singaporeans.
Mr Goh underlined the importance of early detection and treatment, especially in cases similar to his, as this would exponentially enhance a person’s chances of survival.
“For those who may experience a lump in the throat and a change in the voice, see an ENT doctor. Ignorance, delay and denial may be costly. Spot and treat the cancer early, the 5-year survival rate is over 90 per cent. Do it after it has spread, the survival rate drops to below 30 per cent.”
Earlier in the week, he wrote that he wanted to increase the odds of living until he is 93, just like Mr Mahmud Awang, a respected unionist who passed away recently.
He said that when Mr Mahmud was asked how he kept so slim and fit, he had said that he ate sparingly, even food that he liked.
Mr Goh added that, from now on, he would have to eat sparingly to increase his odds of living till 93 like Mr Mahmud. /TISG