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“The best medicine for me now is to smile”
09 December 2015

Featuring the work of photographer Kerry Cheah, this article showcases the life of Mr Chua Teng Lim at HCA Day Hospice.

By Winnie Chan

Meet Chua Teng Lim, known by all HCA Day Hospice staff as a cheerful man. He never fails to greet everyone he meets with a bright and captivating smile. His optimism influences and brings delight to those around him.

However, behind the bright smiling face hides many years of suffering. Chua was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011 and started chemotherapy treatment. By 2013, the cancer had spread to the brain. He spent a lot of time in the hospital, as the treatments and doctor’s consultations usually took the whole day. After attending chemotherapy sessions, he would be so weak that he could not walk. The giddy spells and constant vomiting did not help but caused him further distress and pain.

Chua shared that he was constantly unhappy with his job in the past due to the stress and long working hours he had to endure. As a result, he spent a huge portion of his time at work and family ties were poor and neglected. He believed that the prolonged stress and pent-up anger resulted in his deteriorating health.

Through this period of suffering and pain, Mr Chua is thankful for a supportive and loving wife, who quit her job just so that she could take care of him the entire day. Every day, she would prepare nutritious meals and fruit juices for him and even cleaned up after him.

Fortunately, his condition improved in March 2014 and he could visit HCA Day Hospice with the aid of a wheelchair. His wife could also go back to work. His gradual recovery eased the burden off his family, financially and physically.

Soon, Chua could walk and take the public transport independently. From then on, he embraces the fact that mobility is a blessing that should not be taken for granted. He continues to visit the Day Hospice once every week and looks forward to joining his fellow peers.

The Day Hospice gives him the opportunity to participate in sponsored outings to places such as Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore SEA Aquarium. Chua also has the privilege to receive free hair cut services by HCA volunteers.

The HCA Day Hospice is a place of rejuvenating joy and entertainment by different volunteers, which includes dance, singing, and school performances. Patients are also given the space for creativity through Art and Craft sessions. He finds joy and purpose through his interaction and engagement with different individuals who share the same experience of having a life-limiting illness.

Chua is thankful for the availability of medical workers at the Day Hospice who could help him with his ailments at any time. He also attributes his improvement in health to his religion and diet. His religious teacher visits him every Tuesday and gives him the encouragement he needs. Through the religious teachings, Chua has taken on a vegetarian diet and came to accept his health condition.

Despite his medical condition, he is a much happier man with strong family ties, especially with his wife and mother. He would make it a point to visit his mother every week and hopes that one day his wife and mother do not have to worry about him.

Chua believes that having an optimistic mindset and perspective to life can improve one’s being – physically, emotionally and spiritually. He said in Mandarin, “Lead a happy life and treasure your loved ones around you.”

Our Day Hospice centres see to a patient’s needs away from home, catering to patients who are able to walk or are safely mobile in a wheelchair, and who do not require 24-hour nursing assistance. You may wish to drop a word of encouragement for Mr Chua Teng Lim and our Day Hospice Patients at communications@hcahospicecare.org.sg or simply join us and volunteer! To find our more about how you can volunteer at our Day Hospices, visit https://www.hca.org.sg/hospice/volunteers/info-on-volunteerism.