44 year-old Goh Hoon Tiong, a father of 3 children – a daughter, 7, and 2 sons, 10 and 13 – used to be the sole breadwinner of his family.
Since the children’s mother walked out on the family 5 years ago, Mr Goh had been holding down 2 jobs as a cleaner and dishwasher so as to raise his children. He also received some help from the Government.
But things took a turn for the worse when he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.
He was forced to stop work and his family’s income fell flat.
Reporters traveled to Mr Goh’s 1-room flat in Lavender last week to speak with Mr Goh, who told them that kind strangers have approached him to offer help.
Speaking with a visible amount of difficulty, Mr Goh remained crouched in a fetal position for most of the interview. The metal stent in his oesophagus, which connects a tube leading from his mouth through the throat to his stomach, allows Mr Goh to eat and swallow, but causes him pain when it expands and conrtacts.
Since being diagnosed with cancer, Mr Goh has lost 12 kg, which may prevent him from undergoing a crucial operation to cut out his tumour.
However, Mr Goh remains hopeful in the face of all the help that Singaporeans have shown him and his family.
“My phone has been ringing non-stop. Strangers want to know how they can help us.” He says. At least 180 people have offered help whether in cash or otherwise.
As of last night, about $18,000 had been raised from 150 donors.
Others have given directly to his bank account.
Mr Goh says that he is grateful to his benefactors. “They are very kind. Even though I’m a stranger to them, they don’t treat me like one.”
The government has been giving him financial aid since 2012. He has received a monthly cash grant which will last until the end of the year, when his case will be assessed again. He has also received help with his rental and utilities and his children’s education.
Ever the protective dad, he does not want to reveal the identities of his children as he is afraid that they will be teased about their living condition or the absence of their mother.
A doting father, Mr Goh ensures that his children get their proper meals. When he is unable to do so, he gets his elderly mother to help him with the cooking. Despite his condition, Mr Goh continues to do the housework, like doing the laundry and cleaning. “No matter how hard it is, I will fight and make it work. Who says a man cannot be a good single parent?”
Mr Goh has undergone 26 chemotherapy treatments and 4 radiotherapy sessions. When asked about his worries, Mr Goh said that he hopes to simply survive the operation to remove the tumour and the stent: “I’m scared. I just hope to come out of the surgery alive.”