The Story of Hayden
Betty Ang was a Regional Operation Director for a HR Consultancy Firm when she fell pregnant with her first child, Hayden. He was born in November 2006 and was the first son, nephew and grandson within the extended family. Two years later Hayley followed to complete their family.
“Hayden was angelic from the start, well mannered and an easy child to take care of and raise.”, says Betty, “he was a very normal messy little boy, doing the usual things boys his age do and incurred the occasional fever like any other child encounters growing up”. However, at two and half years old, with persistent fevers, loss of appetite and complaining of stomach and leg pains, Hayden was taken to see a doctor. Seeing signs of an unexplained illness, the doctor sent Hayden for further tests at a public hospital, where he was later diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma Cancer.
With the severity of the situation sinking in, Betty quit her job to care full time for Hayden. They were advised to immediately undergo an operation to insert a Hickman line (which is used to administer chemotherapy, blood transfusions and IV delivery), however, being overwhelmed and hesitant, the family sought further information before agreeing to move ahead with the surgery a few days later. Hayden went through numerous treatments; chemotherapy, radiotherapy, 3F8 Immunotherapy and Bone Marrow transplant using his own cord blood. However, although Hayden endured various combinations of treatments over numerous years, he lost his battle on 9th August 2012, just shy of his 6th birthday.
Cancer is never a reality that is easy to accept, be it for the young or old. “In children the painful part is that it is just that more unbelievable and harder to face, but my advice would always be to stay positive and get as much information as you can to make the best judgment.”, suggests Betty.
Whilst family and friend support is imperative for anyone encountering sickness, Betty believes it is the psycho-social care that is often overlooked and undocumented by many. The direct and indirect support from the hospitals, medical staff and numerous others involved in caring for the seriously ill, are critical in helping the many patients undergoing treatment, whether it be a medical factor, major monetary matter or simply having somewhere nearby to cook food. Betty believes, “Not everyone can help in the same way, especially in the hospital, but supporting a family in crisis is truly impactful in more ways than one.”
Hayden’s story came to the attention of the HKAHF through friends and Betty was subsequently asked to share her and Hayden’s journey at the Women of Hope (WOH) luncheon in 2015. This was Betty’s first introduction to the foundation, but she was encouraged to learn of the many varied ways and ideas the WOH use to help others in need.
For others beginning or undergoing the same journey as Hayden and his family, Betty offers this advice, “There is always hope to be found, and many examples where the light can be found at the end of the tunnel. You need to face the reality first, and then work towards doing what is possible, and never give up if there is a chance to be treated or recover. In the most difficult of situations where nothing can be done, make sure you make the best use of time with your loved ones and cherish the memories you create.”