Theresa Chan, Singapore's Helen Keller, dies of lung cancer aged 72

June 7, 2016

Theresa Chan Poh Lin, Singapore's Helen Keller, has died at the age of 72 after battling advanced lung cancer, The Straits Times reported.

She succumbed to the disease yesterday morning (June 6), about two months after she was diagnosed with the disease.

Her last days were spent at Assisi Hospice, where her friends watched her round the clock.

Ms Chan opted for palliative care although treatment options were presented to her, a friend told The Straits Times.

She began giving instructions for her will and funeral towards the end of last month.

She was cremated yesterday evening after a Catholic mass held in the afternoon, as per her wishes.

Her urn will be placed next to her mother's at the columbarium of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

Ms Chan's extraordinary life was the inspiration for local filmmaker Eric Khoo's 2005 movie Be With Me, which she starred in.

After losing her hearing and sight to a bout of meningitis by the time she was 14, Ms Chan was found by a social worker who changed her life.

On top of receiving an education, Ms Chan played sports and travelled widely.

She had told the late John Wilson when he was director of the Royal Commonwealth Society for The Blind that "she wanted to learn like Helen Keller, to speak English like the Queen of England, to meet everyone in the world".

During an interview with The Straits Times in April, when she was still in Singapore General Hospital, she said that she was not afraid of cancer: "If I have to go home, I will be happy to see Jesus. I hope people will remember me and remember that whatever their disabilities, they should have hope and not be unhappy and discouraged."

She added: "I have lived and loved and enjoyed a wonderful life."