Gift of empathy: A cancer survivor on a mission - Zoe Yap, Great Eastern Agent of Life

| 26 Mar 2021

Video edited by Azri Bahari

Zoe Yap is a four-time cancer survivor who has battled the dreaded disease for six years. She shares with Asia Advisers Network how she maintains her positive outlook on life and how she taps on her experience and empathy to help others as a Great Eastern Agent of Life.

The first time that Zoe felt something amiss was in the third trimester of her pregnancy. She felt discomfort when passing motion but was told it was part and parcel of pregnancy.

It was only after her one-month maternity confinement that she went for further medical checks as she continued to feel discomfort.

That was when she was told by the doctor that she has stage-three rectal cancer.

From the ecstasy of being a first-time mom after trying for a child for five years to being told that she had only a 60-70 per cent survival rate from her cancer, her world tumbled.

Yet, Zoe walks around today with this sunny disposition that shines through her personality. 

Fight or flight

“When facing tough situations, you either fight or flight. I chose the former,” she said.

How does she keep her optimism and spirits up in her long-drawn fight with cancer? “First, we must have faith,” she said. Faith will propel you when the journey is challenging.

At that time, she was a marketing professional in the corporate world. “I was undergoing treatments and not working for years. Imagine if I don’t have the money, how would I have survived?”

Thanks to her forward planning and the holistic financial planning done by her Great Eastern financial representative, she did not have to pay for any hospitalisation and medical bills, and received a lump sum pay-out for her living expenses during her recuperation period.

Work was the furthest thing from her mind as she chose to spend quality time with her loved ones, and did what she enjoyed, such as travelling, cooking and baking.

“It helped to keep me positive and focus on my recovery as I did not have to worry about finances!” she said.

Paying it forward

Looking back, she said she was fortunate to meet her financial representative, who was her husband’s friend.

“At that time, I was a vegetarian for over 20 years. I felt super fit! I was running marathons, and I did not smoke. So, I never imagined anything bad would happen to me,” she shared.  

But because of her financial representative’s persistence and professionalism, she started er financial planning with a hospitalisation plan. And over time, she got herself comprehensively covered with other insurance solutions such as critical illness and disability income plans.

A few years, she could claim from her insurance policies which helped cover her hospitalisation and medical bills.

As she recovered, she volunteered at Singapore General Hospital and societies such as the Singapore Cancer Society to give back and shared her journey.

But she soon realised that the help she could offer as a volunteer was limited. She recognised that it is equally important to have the means to pay the hefty medical and hospitaliation bills, especially if one is uable to continue working or lost his job. She thought to herself, “Why don’t I be the angel that brings them the financial support when something unfortunate happens?”

Having experienced first-hand the difference an excellent financial representative can make, she decided to become an Agent of Life.

“My financial representative was there for me throughout my journey, not only helping me to settle my claims promptly, but also encouraging me and checking constantly to see if I was feeling okay. He gave me peace of mind in the most stressful season of my life, allowing me to focus solely on my recovery. That inspired me to do the same for others,” she said.

Great Eastern – the obvious choice

Joining Great Eastern was the obvious choice for her. “I have full confidence,” she said. Describing the company as “tested and proven” from her personal experience, she was impressed by the full and prompt settlement of her claims each time.

Moreover, the various programmes available at Great Eastern helped in her smooth transition, such as:

Great Entrepreneur Scheme – An allowance scheme by Great Eastern which provides monthly allowance to eligible representatives for up to 24 months, that helped her take the leap of faith to make a mid-career switch to be a financial representative.     

The Greater Way – A workshop that coaches and trains new financial representatives to learn how to approach people, address questions from prospects and obtain leads.

Zoe is also thankful to her agency colleagues who encouraged and helped her to excel in her new career.  “I’m blessed to be in iPlanners. Our slogan is that we have to put our feet in other people’s shoes,” she said.

On a mission

When faced with rejections and challenges, what keeps Zoe going is a sense of mission.

From a 60-70% survival rate when she was first diagnosed with cancer, the doctor broke the news that that her survival rate is now 20%.

“My time is limited, but it makes me work even harder. If my financial representative did not share with me and I did not do any planning, I would not know how I could face all the bills and debts. I cannot laugh my way out of them,” she said. “Every insurance plan sold is for the health of others, and never the wealth of mine.”

No matter what you face in your career and life, continue to look on the bright side. Zoe Yap shared: “Happiness is a choice; choose happiness.”

Do you have the gift of empathy? Be a fighter like Zoe and be a part of Great Eastern Agents of Life. Find out more at


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