MY heart bled when I met two bubbly boys recently. One was ten years old and the other was three years younger.
I was saddened because…
…I felt that life had dealt them a cruel blow. Being young and innocent, they certainly do not deserve their fate.
Unfortunately, cancer does not discriminate.
The treatment has brought them untold pain and anguish and taken away their hair temporarily. The younger boy has lost the lower half of his left leg.
Our paths crossed as a result of my experience as the Young Ambassador of the NKF Children’s Medical Fund.
I was asked to share it with them so that they would be willing to help create awareness of the disease.
Everybody knows about the disease, but not many realise that it also afflicts the young and the very young.
When I met them at their homes, I was impressed by their courage. They did not moan and groan. Instead, they were smiling and full of life.
It did not take me long to get them to volunteer their services, although I cannot claim all the credit.
I told them: You are not doing it for yourself. You are doing it to help others in similar condition.
I could not hold back my tears when I watched their stories being told during the NKF Cancer Show. I wished life could be fairer to children like them.
Many people who watched the show were similarly touched. I could see tears rolling down their cheeks, too.
For people who are sick or have a disability, the two boys are great examples to emulate. Being sick and disabled is not an excuse for not contributing to society.
They have created awareness of the disease and have helped raise funds that will benefit many other cancer patients. Most importantly, they are also helping themselves as beneficiaries of the fund.
All of us have our strengths. We can, and should, use them to help others.
I have been asked many times to explain why I choose to do charity work.
My answer: Humans should have love in their souls and compassion in their hearts.
Despite being a person with a disability, I am human, too. Why shouldn’t I help others when I can?
As Minister of Health Khaw Boon Wan put it: “If we don’t use our talents to the full to help others, are we any different from a cockroach or a rat?”
Is it easy to help others? I don’t think so, especially after the NKF saga.
In a letter to this newspaper on July 26, Phuah Neo Peng Chiew noted that, recently, volunteers in charity drives organised by a number of voluntary welfare organisations were “simply ignored or turned down and some volunteers had verbal abuse hurled at them”.
I have my own unpleasant experiences. Two weeks ago, I was told that a group of boys planned to “whack” me because I supported an “evil organisation”.
You can threaten me. You can beat me up and break all the bones in my body. But you can’t stop me from contributing to the NKF, which has helped and will continue to help save and transform the lives of many people – young and old – with various diseases.
If you call the NKF “evil”, then I can only feel sorry for you. And for the record, I am not a beneficiary of the NKF.
Finally, I would like to put on record my thanks to Mrs Goh Chok Tong, the NKF’s former patron, Mr Richard Yong and his board members and Mr T T Durai, the former CEO.
They are marvellous people who played a significant role in helping the organisation achieve its mission.
I will always remember the encouragement and care they have given me.
(This journal entry was published in TODAY on 4 August 2005)