Adversity is part of life. When you run into adversity, do you take it lying down? Or do you believe that the rainbow will come after the rain? Bobby Leung Chun Hung, a 17-year old F.5 student, tells us from his experience that, no matter how painful it may be, once it is over, life can become beautiful again.
Bobby was diagnosed with Embryonal Carcinoma when he was 9 years old. After several years of battling the disease, he survived and recovered. The former little life warrior is already the “Big Brother” among his friends. He still has a boyish face, but behind it are mature thoughts and a strong determination. How has Bobby’s experience helped him grow up to become a youth of such maturity?
Bobby is very close to his grandma
Fighting the disease positively and with optimism
Bobby grew up in a single parent family and was raised by his grandmother. His family was not too well-off. However, he was doing well in school before he got sick. He started to worry that he would not be able to catch up with his studies after he had been diagnosed. Bobby recalled that when he was sick, he had to go through a series of treatments. He often vomited after chemotherapy. However, the hardest part was the stem cell transplant in the bone marrow ward. He was 10 years old and the procedure was extremely painful. He had mouth ulcers, loss of teeth and a damaged digestive system. The treatment affected his subsequent growth as well. Even though the treatment process was tough, Bobby never complained. “I had had an easy life and there had been few obstacles before the illness. So I was not too upset when the disease first surfaced. If this was the path chosen for me, then I had to travel along it.” he says. At a very young age, Bobby was already positive and optimistic. This may explain why he was able to accept the hardship so calmly.
The optimistic and positive qualities certainly played a part in how Bobby chose to deal with the disease. In addition, the caring health-care workers brought him great courage. He recalls that the doctors clearly explained the treatment process to him when he was sick. This is extremely important for patients as it will minimize their concerns. The medical staff were also very friendly. The social workers as well as the pastor of the hospital came to see him from time to time. The nurses not only gave him his medicines on schedule, but also accompanied him to the washroom at times and generally took very good care of him. He could only recover due to such great care of the medical staff.
Growth fostered by the angels among us
Although Bobby was small when he was sick, he has not forgotten the various happenings during his hospitalization. Before he was transferred to Prince of Wales Hospital, he was treated at Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po. At the time, his condition was not that serious. So his family could not stay with him overnight. He was left all alone in a big ward. To help calm his nerves, the nurses made the point of staying close to and chatting with him. After the transfer to Prince of Wales Hospital, Bobby was in a new environment and was at first a little frightened, but the fear disappeared soon because on very evening of his transfer, the CCC nurses already came up to his bedside and chatted with him. Once when he was in CCC, Bobby was feeling very sick after chemotherapy and had lost his appetite. On learning this, a few nurses, unbeknown to the doctors, “smuggled” some snacks and drinks for him in the evening. Bobby says, “I am very grateful for the care of the medical staff. They were very responsible and hardworking. Even when other children patients and I made a scene in the evening, they would not scold us but would talk to us first.” In Bobby’s eyes, the medical staff are the angels in his life. Their protection enabled him to move forward. The care of the medical staff is probably the best gift that children patients have during their hospitalization.
Bobby has built a deep friendship with the medical staff because of their sincere care-giving. Even now, he still actively seeks out Dr. Shing and Dr. Lee to send his regards when participating in LLWS events. During each follow-up appointment, he will find time to come back to the Home of the LLWS or visit the nurses who were stationed in his former ward. Bobby is fully supportive of LLWS because he believes that it provides a platform for people who have had the same experience to get together. Due to this shared experience, people can connect with each other and share their feelings without inhibition. They can also learn from each other through this communication. Bobby remarks, “The good friends at the Home can trust each other and be honest with each other. We see each other a lot when we participate in the Home’s activities, so our bonding becomes increasingly stronger.” He also believes that the Home provides a venue for children to play to fight off their boredom. In addition, its regular activities enable those sick children who used to fight the diseases together to have fun with each other after recovery. Friends are crucial in Bobby’s life because he believes that, with friends, your joy is doubled when you are happy, and your sadness is halved when you are down.
Volunteering enriches life
Bobby loves participating in LLWS activities exactly because he can meet up with his former comrades. In addition, he considers that he has much to gain from participating from each activity. Some time ago, Bobby joined LLWS’s visit to the Government House and was fortunate enough to be able to share his experience with the Chief Executive, Mr. Leung Chun Ying, in person. Although Bobby is very young, on the occasion he carried himself well and gave a good account of his experience and the medical staff’s care-giving. Knowing that it takes time to catch up, Bobby treasures the chance to learn from each activity. For example, when visiting the Government House, he learned some communication and public speaking skills from the Chief Executive. He is also grateful to be able to share his experience with the Chief Executive. Bobby feels that meeting new friends is another benefit of participating in various activities. That is why he also participates in events of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG). Nowadays, good friends he frequently meets at HKFYG usually nominate him as the leader for their joint activities. He is indeed the “big brother” in everyone’s eyes.
In addition to participating in LLWS and HKFYG activities, Bobby also likes to join volunteer services. He says, “The school social worker used to nominate me for volunteer work. During such service, I found that volunteering could help others as well as myself. So my interest in volunteer work has grown stronger.” Bobby is an HKFYG ambassador for promoting active living and also a member of the volunteer task force of his school. He hopes to become an LLWS volunteer if time allows when he grows up in order to help others as well as himself. The volunteer services have helped Bobby to learn a lot, and affected his career preference. Having tasted hardship himself, he can empathize with people in difficulty. He wishes to help them out of their difficulties by caring for them. Given the similarities between social workers and volunteer workers, Bobby wants to become a social worker when he grows up. He hopes he can use his own experience to help others and affect their lives with his own.
After getting the disease, Bobby’s view of life has changed. He used to believe that life would be a through road without obstacles. The lack of excitements made him chase for fun and hence he was rather lazy. He did not realize the need to treasure anything or step in others’ shoes. After the illness had struck, he had to slow down and learned to cherish everyone and everything. He has learned how to be considerate and put others’ needs before his own. Moreover, he is more proactive in helping people who are in need. Bobby believes that the disease has made him more rational and allowed him to think how to live his life so that he would not waste it on inconsequential issues. The disease has actually enriched his life.
Life is full of adversity. We may not be able to choose how our life turns out, but we can choose our attitude to it. Bobby has chosen to be active and optimistic in moving forward courageously. As he says, “The world would not stop because I am upset. So why shouldn’t I be happy instead? Perhaps I have been given the disease to strengthen my determination.” Bobby says this with resolve in his eyes. He even quotes Mencius, “A person destined for great responsibilities will first be subject to the greatest tests”. His positive take on life can move many healthy people.
Mutual encouragement from people on the same path
When you face difficulties, try to take a step forward. This may well provide the basis for taking another step, and on it goes. We have nothing to fear from difficulties. Losing something is almost always accompanied by gaining something else. When you have fallen once, you become stronger, and it will not hurt that much. Let’s all cherish the people and things around us.
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