Daphne Khoo: Life Lessons From Battling Ovarian Cancer

The Singapore Idol alum now pays $1,400 yearly for “rent for [her] unborn children”.

The 29-year-old singer-songwriter was attending  Berklee College of Music in 2013 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Daphne, who has recovered, recently released her first single, 'First Five Minutes'. 

#1: Never under-estimate the power of insurance.

 How did Daphne cope financially? She explains: “I was really blessed. When I was living in Singapore, I didn’t have insurance. But at the time of my diagnosis, I was studying at Berklee College of Music and was paying US$2,000 (S$2,800) a year for premium insurance — it’s school policy that international students are covered by some kind of insurance. So [medical fees] were never an issue.”

#2: You should take a chance when you can.

“I paid for fertility treatments ’cos it’s experimental and there are no guaranteed results. I did the fertility treatments before undergoing chemo ’cos chemo weakens your body and if I wanted to have children within the next 10 years, it’d have been tough. These fertility treatments would’ve cost US$7,000. But I found out that Livestrong subsidises it for anyone going through testicular or ovarian cancer, so I ended up paying only about US$2,000. I had to get hormone injections and had 19 eggs successfully removed. Now, I pay rent for my unborn children — I pay about US$1,000 a year to keep my eggs frozen in America (laughs). So when women talk about hormone injections [as part of IVF], I know exactly what that’s like. I had to get the injections for at least a month and it was really tough. I went for an ultrasound every other day to make sure that the eggs are growing. By the end of it, they knew roughly how many eggs they could extract. When they extract the eggs, they are literally piercing a large tube into your ovaries. Imagine hitting your funny bone, and for a second, you don’t know what to do with your arm. It’s like that, but with your vagina! (Laughs) You can’t walk or pee ’cos it hurts.”

#3: But you still have to play it safe.

Daphne removed one of her ovaries but didn’t undergo a hysterectomy, a procedure to remove the uterus. Was getting her eggs frozen a way to make sure she’d be able to have kids later on? “Yes, I wanted to be safe. I’ve to consult my doctor to see if they still need me to keep the eggs frozen. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the eggs if I don’t pay the rent. Do they give them to somebody else? Are my half-children going to be running around America without my knowledge?” she muses.


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