Decked out in a simple blue dress, Doris Quek smiles radiantly as she croons a medley of well-loved tunes dating back to the 70s.
It was a role she gamely took on for HCA’s official opening in May 2019. To pair up with HCA staff, Andrew Ng and Adeline Tan, to perform for the guests. Channelling their musical creativity, the trio brainstormed various song ideas, eventually settling on several of late singer Teresa Teng’s favourite hits.
Doris (centre) performs for the guests at HCA’s opening ceremony with HCA staff Andrew Ng (left) and Adeline Tan (right).
One of the Mandarin songs Doris selected, “There Will be a Better Tomorrow”, bears great personal significance. For Doris, it is a message of hope she wants to share with everyone, no matter how debilitating the circumstances may be.
Doris was referred to HCA in 2011, following a six-month stay in the hospital. It was a dark period for Doris, who had endured the side effects of chemotherapy for lymphoma. “My organs were affected; I had lung infection and was breathless all the time,” Doris shares. “My kidneys were also deteriorating.”
“The thought of hospice scared me,” she says candidly.
Doris claps along with the crowd at a fellow Day Hospice patient’s birthday celebration.
But eventually Doris decided to give HCA’s Day Hospice a shot and was pleasantly surprised by what she saw. Outgoing and sociable by nature, Doris took to the plethora of programmes and outings at the Day Hospice like a fish to water. “I loved the outings to Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore Flyer,” she says cheerfully. “The karaoke sessions in the afternoon were very fun as well.”
Over the years, Doris has grown close to fellow patients, volunteers and HCA staff alike. The homeliness of the Day Hospice was what inspired Doris to return as a volunteer following her discharge in January this year. Twice a week, Doris comes back to the Day Hospice to help out in the kitchen, preparing and serving snacks and meals. She also makes time to lend a listening ear to other patients, who share similar struggles.
Friendships transcend all boundaries – sometimes our best friends have four legs and furry coats. Doris had been an avid volunteer at a local cat shelter before she was stricken with cancer.
A fervent advocate for animal welfare, Doris was actively involved in animal rescue, sterilisation and also helped to foster cats who were waiting to be adopted. The furry companions fuelled her drive to survive. “I am determined to live because my cats need me,” she says simply.
Today, Doris’s condition has stabilised sufficiently for her to be discharged from HCA’s service, a turn of events she is immensely grateful for. “I cherish each day I have,” she says. “I still go for courses and meet up with old friends when they ask me out.”
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