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Trailblazers100 – Finishing 50km in victory!
21 October 2015

“Phew! I was so happy to see my husband at the finish line,” says Serene Wong, nurse from Star PALS, HCA Hospice Care. It was her first time participating in a 50 km trail marathon and she completed it in victory, with joy written all over her face.

Last year, President of HCA Hospice Care, Dr Tan Poh Kiang participated in the 100k TNF ultramarathon. HCA Hospice Care is fortunate to have a group of competent and dedicated long distance runners, called The Trailblazers, following Dr Tan’s footsteps this year. They participated in the 50km North Face 100 Ultramarathon challenge held on the 10th October, at the MacRitchie Reservoir.

We would like to acknowledge and appreciate all the volunteers who braved the hot weather to ensure there was enough supply of water and energy bars for the runners. The runners shared of how they spurred each other on when anyone felt like giving up. Many of them ran with the vision of the pain our patients have to journey through and that kept them going. It was definitely a successful event that ended on a high note with encouragements and great admiration.

Behind their enthusiasm are stories of true courage, strength and resilience. Among the 33 runners, are Harry and Henry who have gone through the heartbreaks of seeing their child undergo medical treatment.  They believe in the hospice cause and wish to dedicate their love, sweat and time to other patients by fund raising.

Harry Teo, 47, married and head of the household with a boy age 17 and girl, age 14. A far cry away from the norm, he ran in sandals for the North Face ultramarathon. He would like to dedicate his first 50km trail race challenge to his late daughter, Kristie, who was previously under the embrace and support of HCA Hospice Care.

The princess of the house, Kristie, was diagnosed with stage four bone cancer in the pelvic (known as Osteosarcoma) with lung metastasis when she was 12 years old. Priorities changed after Kristie’s prognosis. She was originally offered a place in Singapore Sports School for netball but declined reluctantly as she had to undergo Hemipelvectomy (amputation of the leg) and post-surgery chemotherapy. Palliative chemotherapy treatments were given thereafter.

It was a tough period. Harry and his family overcame the trials that came along gradually. Looking back at Kristie’s life, Harry believes she lived it to fullest. In between chemotherapies, she even managed to attend classes, carried on with her CCA in harp and even travelled as a family to Seoul and Gold Coast for her favourite roller coaster rides. Kristie has indeed added life to her days.

The long runs are therapeutic moments for Harry to connect with God and a time to refuel his ‘JOY’ tank. To Harry, running an Ultramarathon is like life – it can sometimes be challenging, difficult and obstacles may be present. He says, “There might be pain, tears, moments of doubt and joy.  But we remind ourselves that we will keep going till we finish the race and encourage others we meet along the route to keep going.”

Kristie managed to fight all the way in the comfort of her home. The family is very thankful for the support and care given by HCA Hospice Care during her stay at home.

Henry Tan, 53, is also a participating Trailblazers. He is an avid sportsman and loves to participate in endurance races such as the upcoming North Face 100. Married for 28 years, Henry and his wife Lucille, has a beautiful family with two sons, Nathaniel, 26, and Nathaddeus, 24. Unfortunately, his eldest boy Nathaniel was diagnosed with cancer in September 2014. He is now in remission and going for regular medical reviews every five months in National Cancer Centre Singapore(NCCS).

Henry had a 17 year-old nephew who was also diagnosed with cancer and succumbed to it in 2012 after a few weeks of home palliative care. Thus, Nathaniel’s condition was a second impact to their lives which saddened the entire family.

Upon knowing that the tumour is malignant, Henry and Lucille felt their world stopped immediately. Many normal activities and routines came to a standstill. Everyone in the family kept as positive as possible and provided him with the best care, comfort and love through the challenging period.

Henry feels deeply for patients who have terminal conditions and diseases such as cancer. He is able to relate to the life of a caregiver. As he trains for the upcoming run, thoughts of the terminally-ill patients and their loved ones keeps him going.

“I realized that I must pursue what I have always liked to do, to run and do charity at the same time,” says Henry. “I hope my friends will donate generously, and more love, care and warmth can be channelled to the both patients and workers in HCA Hospice Centre after the race.”

Henry feels a sense of accomplishment by supporting the good work that HCA is doing – providing palliative care for terminally-ill patients.

Together with Harry and Henry, were 31 competent runners who have been training together since July this year. They took the step of faith to run as a Trailblazer to raise awareness and fund-raise for HCA Hospice Care. To date, they have raised a total of $35,144.09. Once again, our heartfelt thanks to the sweat, time and love invested into this great cause!

At HCA Hospice Care, we rely on the financial support of donors to supplement the funding we receive from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). You may wish to visit https://www.hca.org.sg/hospice/volunteers/donation to find out more.