Lay Choo on the way to visiting one of her patients at home.
For Lay Choo, it was a chance encounter with a young patient 20 years ago, that sparked a meaningful career in hospice care. Before joining HCA, Lay Choo had been working in the private sector for several months, when she met a young lady, who was sobbing at the staircase while she was on duty. “She had been newly diagnosed with cancer. I felt helpless and did not know how to comfort her,” Lay Choo shares. “I stayed there for a while and eventually carried on with my work.”
“When I tried to look for her again the next day, I found out she had been discharged. The sight of her crying has been imprinted in my mind ever since.”
Inspired to support patients and families facing the end-of-life journey, Lay Choo decided to explore a new path in nursing, and joined HCA in 2003. Over her 20-year journey, Lay Choo has encountered numerous patients and families who have irrevocably moved her.
One of them was Mr See, an elderly man whom she cared for in 2008, for four months. “He would place his chair near the main door and wait for me, greeting me warmly when I arrived,” Lay Choo recalls. “Mr See was frail and weak but he would always urge his wife to make a drink for me. I just felt very touched as I was the one who was supposed to show concern to him.”
“He showered me with warmth and hospitality despite his ailments. It really made my day. I felt it was really rewarding to be able to help him and his family.”
As Mr See, who had advanced lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, deteriorated, his final wish was to spend his last days at home. “His wife called me and shared her concerns about not being able to cope, and I discussed with her about how our team could support her,” Lay Choo relates. “Eventually, she decided to give it a go.”
A day before Mr See passed on, Lay Choo visited him with her team members. The elderly man was extremely breathless, and they tried to manage his symptoms by titrating his medication. It pained Lay Choo to see Mr See in such a distressed state, and she decided to go back to visit him again at night. As she was leaving to attend an overseas work conference the next day, Lay Choo knew it would be the last time she would see him.
“When I am tired and frustrated sometimes, I will think back about Mr See. His smile inspires me and gives me the courage to carry on with what I am doing now. This is the reason why I am still here and doing what I know is meaningful.”
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