Singapore—Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong shared a photo of his first radiation therapy session on Wednesday afternoon (Dec 23) on his Facebook account.
Mr Goh, 79, has been open about his recent health issues, in part to encourage other Singaporeans to advocate for themselves by availing of health tests and screenings, he wrote last week.
His photo showed “the custom-made mask to hold my head absolutely still while the machine zapped the bad spot on my larynx. No swallowing as it zapped. I focused on my breathing and the present – a little bit of mindfulness.”
The procedure did not last very long, and Mr Goh said it was “all over in a matter of minutes.”
“One down, 19 more to go,” he added. He wrote in another Facebook post last week that he has 20 radiation therapy sessions all in all.
Mr Goh wrote last week 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.”
Despite this, however, he still needs radiation therapy to ensure that no cancer cells remain in his body.
“Just like the weather these days, it never rains but pours for me medically…. What a way to celebrate the festive season!”
The former Prime Minister, who stepped down from public duties shortly before the General Election in July, said that he has shared 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 percent. Do it after it has spread, the survival rate drops to below 30 percent.”
And in the meantime, Mr Goh seemed in good spirits and expressed the hopes of a good prognosis before long.
“My thundery showers will pass. I am looking forward to clear blue sky before the Chinese New Year — and more good years thereafter.
Season’s Greetings and good health to all. — gct”
Again, well-wishers flocked to Mr Goh’s Facebook page, including Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.