Foo Choon Mei Runs for Hope

The cancer survivor’s story on how running helped her find her feet again.


Words Lionel Kong
Photos Foo Choon Mei's archives and Run For Hope 2019 (Alson Tay & Mohamed Noor)

While Foo Choon Mei was always enthusiastically volunteering at mass participation events like the SEA Games, ASEAN PARA Games, ASEAN University Games, she never really considered running herself, until a series of events rocked her life.

In 2016, she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), an early stage of breast cancer in which the cancer has not become invasive. To reduce the risk of recurrence, she was given 33 sessions of radiotherapy and recovered reasonably well. However, a year later in March 2017, during her annual check-up, a new lump was found and a biopsy confirmed that it was Stage 1 breast cancer. After surgery and another 33 sessions of daily radiotherapy, she still requires daily medication to manage the disease.

“There was lots of denial initially, but thankfully I was blessed to have my family, who stood by me all the way. The cancer journey has changed my perspective of work and life and I started to look at life differently. One of the resolutions which I have made was to help other cancer patients,” says Choon Mei.

She started joined cancer-related organisations in Singapore, including the Breast Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), CanHOPE and Children’s Cancer Foundation.

“I now help out in support groups and events to raise funds. I know first-hand that the journey with cancer is tough and miserable, I want to help others find their strength,” she explains.  

After all those years of enjoying the social camaraderie volunteering at sports events, Choon Mei also started to take charge of her own fitness, and began running regularly.  

This year, she is looking forward to participating in Run for Hope 2020, the annual run that raises funds for cancer research. The event will take place on 23rd February at the Marina Barrage.

Run For Hope (RFH) is an annual run organised by Four Seasons Hotel Singapore and the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) to raise awareness and support for cancer research. For more than 30 years, the Four Seasons group of hotels across the world has been committed to the cause of advancing cancer research through this annual event.

The Four Seasons Hotel Singapore has been supporting local cancer research through the annual run since 1993, making this the single largest sporting event in aid of cancer research here. The event maintains its tradition as a non-competitive, leisure run and is organised by the staff of Four Seasons Hotel Singapore and the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

The threat of cancer is very real with the disease accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in Singapore. However, with advances in science and robust cancer research activities, researchers remain hopeful that the progressive breakthroughs made by the NCCS team can lead to a cure. All funds raised at Run For Hope will be donated to NCC Research Fund.

As for Choon Mei, she is maintaining an active lifestyle and even took part in the Spartan Stadion race in January 2019 with a friend. “Through my running, I have also learned that nothing is impossible. It is just mind over body! So I just keep going, and keep running,” she says.

Find out more and sign up for Run For Hope 2020 at


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