Family, Health, Relationships

She lost her husband to cancer, struggled to cope – but something changed

By Gracia Lee  , 24 June 2022

TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains mentions of suicide and a suicide attempt that some may find distressing.

Suzanne Soh, now 67, has grappled with much pain in her life.

She grew up in a poor family. When she was just 12 years old, her mother took her own life.

In the aftermath, her father had to work two jobs in order to provide for them. The family survived on $2 a day, eating green or red bean soup for lunch and rice and eggs for dinner.

Suzanne had to take care of the household, as well as her younger siblings who were all under 10 years old.

The burden was heavy, affecting her studies.

She once did very well in school, ranking in the top three of her class. However, when she failed her exams in Secondary 1, she lost her sense of self and became quiet and withdrawn.

In Secondary 2, after failing another exam, Suzanne reached her breaking point, almost choosing suicide.

Love of her life

Fast forward to the late 1970s: Suzanne was doing a nursing course in midwifery in the United Kingdom. 

There, she met Simon Wong, a computer science undergraduate from Sarawak.

The two fell in love and, four years later in 1983, they became husband and wife.

Suzanne and Simon on their wedding day in 1983. Suzanne loved Simon for many reasons, including his responsible and faithful behavior. All photos courtesy of Suzanne Soh unless otherwise stated.

“I never thought I’d be a widow, the way it happened.”

“It was like a fairy tale, my Cinderella story,” said Suzanne. “I found my prince and my life was now better. After we married, I thought I would live happily ever after.”

She added, “I never thought I’d be a widow, the way it happened.”  

End of a fairy tale

Suzanne and Simon enjoyed their marriage and had three children, who were then in their teens.

But in 2004, Simon discovered a lump on his tongue.

The Wong family liked to take trips to neighbouring countries twice a year. They also enjoyed having dinner together every evening.

A biopsy showed that he had Stage 2 tongue cancer. Simon was only 46.

The family was rattled by the diagnosis. They hoped that he would recover, even if Simon was advised to remove 40% of his tongue.

Simon made changes to his lifestyle as he ate more healthily and made time for rest. Suzanne also resigned from her job as a nurse to take care of him.

“We had a really good marriage. Simon was the perfect husband and father,” said Suzanne. “We were like one.”

But after two years of remission, the cancer returned in January 2006 – this time to Simon’s lungs.

He now had end-stage cancer and did not have long to live.

“It felt like the end of the world,” said Suzanne. “Simon was also very discouraged.”

The couple tried anything and everything, hoping for a cure. This included going to faith healing services.

“For me, it was a fight between seeing him suffer and letting him go.”

Church leaders also came to their home to pray for them.

“For me, it was a fight between seeing him suffer and letting him go,” shared Suzanne. “Between hoping for a miracle and finding peace with the situation”.

In May that year, Simon and Suzanne were invited to a friend’s healing centre in Perth, Australia.

There, others prayed for Simon.

That’s when Suzanne noticed a quiet but profound change in her husband.

She shared, “He was suddenly at peace. Whether he lived or died, it was no longer important.

“Simon chose to accept whatever God decided for his life. He found true peace.”

Simon stopped going to healing services. Instead, he spent his time visiting other terminally ill patients and sharing with them the peace he found.

“He woke up for just a moment to give me a final smile.”

Soon after, Simon’s health deteriorated rapidly. He was admitted to an intensive care unit.

On June 7, 2006, he collapsed while Suzanne was at his bedside. 

“He woke up for just a moment to give me a final smile,” recalled Suzanne with tears in her eyes. “He left with a peaceful look on his face.” 

Goldfish in a bowl

Simon’s death threw Suzanne into a tailspin.

Angry with God for taking her husband away, she dropped out of church.

She was also disappointed by what she felt was a lack of support from the people around her.

Everyone else seemed happy and cheerful, and there was no space for her to grieve or express her despair.

Simon with his three children on their last family holiday together, shortly before he passed.

Well-meaning friends, not knowing what to say, would give her sympathetic looks. This only made Suzanne feel worse.

“I began to feel like a goldfish swimming in a bowl,” shared Suzanne. “Everyone was like, ‘Aiyo, poor thing’, looking at me and then walking away.”

“I hated that sympathy, yet I desired the care from others.”

Inside, she saw the conflicting nature of her feelings.

“I hated that sympathy, yet I desired the care from others,” she said.

Suzanne soon left her church’s cell group, which was mostly made up of happily married couples. The sight of their joyous unions felt like a stab to her wounds.

The voice

For two years, Suzanne went to other churches where no one knew much about her or what happened. She wanted to not be seen.

At one point, she decided to spend some time at the healing centre in Perth – the same place where Simon first felt peace about his illness.

That was where Suzanne had a life-changing supernatural experience.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, she heard someone call her name: “Suzanne.”

She was sitting in the farm, watching the cows and deer graze in an open field.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, she heard someone call her name:


She looked around, startled, trying to find the source of the voice. She saw no one.

“Just my imagination,” she concluded at first.

But right then, she heard the voice call her name again. And then once more.

There was no mistaking what she was hearing.

“God, is that you?” she asked tentatively.

“Yes,” came the clear reply. “It’s your Father.”

Suzanne started sobbing as she recounted her profound experience.

“I asked God, ‘Why did You have to take my Simon away? Why did You do this to me?'”

“I cried just like this when I heard His voice, when He spoke to me,” she explained after a few moments.

“That’s when I asked God, ‘Why did You have to take my Simon away? Why did You do this to me?’

“Then I just suddenly felt like clinging onto God, like I was His child. I just kept crying.”

God kept silent until Suzanne’s sobs grew quieter.

Then, she heard Him gently ask her: “I’ve taken Simon home. Am I still your God?”

She felt her anger erupt again.

“God, why do You need him? I’m the one who needs him more right here!”

But Suzanne heard God ask her again – twice – more gently than ever: “I’ve taken Simon home. Am I still your God?”

Suzanne’s voice cracked again as she recalled this moment.

“The third time He said it, I felt something break in my heart. I felt it in my spirit.

“And I told God what I really wanted to tell Him all along. I said, ‘God, I really need You more than ever before. I can’t do without You. I need You.'”

Then came His simple reply: “I have a plan for you. A plan not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future.

“Do you trust Me?”

Saved from suicide

When Suzanne looked back on her life, she remembered how God had been with her all along – even when she didn’t believe in Him.

After failing her Secondary 2 exam, Suzanne was sad and overwhelmed. Her family obligations were also an added pressure.

“I climbed up the stairs to the 12th storey. I wanted to throw myself down.”

Unable to take it, she felt it would be better for her to die.

She shared: “In the next flat, I climbed up the stairs to the 12th storey. I wanted to throw myself down.”

Just as she was about to jump, she heard someone call her name.

It was her classmate.

As it turned out, she lived on the very same floor Suzanne intended to leap from.

Seeing her classmate, Suzanne was immediately pulled back to her senses.

She thought: “What am I thinking? Is it worth it to die? What will happen to my dad and siblings?”

Tearing up, Suzanne recalled: “Back then, I didn’t even know the word ‘God’. But even in that moment, I knew that Someone had saved me.”

“Who is this G-O-D?”

Still, Suzanne struggled with her life. 

One night, feeling depressed and hopeless, she looked up into the night sky.

She cried out to the heavens, not sure if anyone was really out there hearing:

“Why is my life such a struggle? Can someone just help me, please?”

Little did she know, there was indeed Someone who heard her – and responded.

Just a mere week later, a couple knocked on the front door of Suzanne’s family home.

They introduced themselves as being from Geylang Methodist Church, handing her a Gospel tract.

“I asked them, ‘Who is this G-O-D?’ I didn’t even know how to pronounce the word!”

Suzanne read the verse printed on it – John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

She recounted: “I asked them, ‘Who is this G-O-D?’ I didn’t even know how to pronounce the word!”

The couple shared the Gospel with her and on that very day, as she stood at her gate, Suzanne prayed to receive Jesus into her heart.

Her decision would prove to be a major turning point in her life.

Suzanne started going to church where she made new friends. They looked out for her well-being, even bringing rice for her family every week.

“I saw God’s love for the first time in those people,” she said.

She went on to attend Bartley Christian Church which had a larger community of teenagers her age – people she could deeply relate to.

Suzanne has seen God’s goodness in many ways over the years. For example, her studies in the UK (where she met Simon, both pictured here) was made possible via timely opportunities. She also witnessed how her own father was miraculously saved – physically and spiritually – after he fell into a coma.

Of course, Suzanne’s life problems didn’t just vanish overnight.

However, for her, being part of a close-knit church community and slowly growing in her faith made all the difference.

“I was happier. I became a much more positive person,” she said.

That was the beginning of her lifelong relationship with God.

To trust or not to trust?

Suzanne felt comforted when she heard God’s voice during her stay in Perth. She knew that He saw her deep sorrow over her husband’s death.

Thus, when He asked her “Do you trust Me”, Suzanne realised she had two choices.

She could either blame God forever for what happened, or she could choose to believe in His love and good purposes for her life.

“I chose to trust Him to turn the bad into good – even though I couldn’t see how that was possible at that time.”

“I chose to trust God, to trust Him to turn the bad into good,” she revealed. “Even though I couldn’t see how that was possible at that time.”

She added: “Faith is always a deliberate choice”. 

A blessed life

Today, Suzanne is grateful to God for many things in her life.

“Now I can see, I’ve been so blessed,” she said, counting her blessings in her children, her grandchildren, her good health, and the healing she has received with God’s help.

The large family portrait was taken about a month before Simon passed away. Also displayed are photos of Suzanne’s children and her six grandchildren. Photo by Salt&Light.

After her supernatural encounter with God in Perth, Suzanne also decided to return to church. 

It has now been 16 years since Simon passed. A long time.

Yet, even amid the priceless joys of her familial life, dulled sorrow over Simon’s passing still creeps back into her heart from time to time.

“Have you ever seen a boat on turbulent waters? I feel like I’m on that boat, but I can still sleep in the storm.”

But these days, Suzanne knows she can always lean on God’s greater wisdom and infinite love.

“Have you ever seen a boat on turbulent waters?” she asked. “I feel like I’m on that boat, but I can still sleep in the storm.”

Even when things are tough, Suzanne trusts that God is working out something good for those who believe in Him. A verse that speaks to her heart is:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“This verse sums up my life,” she said. “We may not always understand God’s plan – or we may even struggle to accept it. But His purpose in our lives is real, and it is good.”

Suzanne feels blessed through her family, her good health and the healing she has received with God’s help.

Suzanne smiled, adding: 

“Many people are lost in their pain. I want to share my story to encourage them today that they can walk out successfully with God’s help.”

This is an excerpt of an article that first appeared in Salt&Light.

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