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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.”

Luke’s Story

In January 2013, when Luke was 5 years old and in Primary 1, he began complaining of sore legs and suffered recurring fevers. His parents took him to the doctors who treated the symptoms, however no diagnosis was made. On the 28th January 2013 Luke went to visit a specialist, who by that evening,diagnosed him with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). Thinking the doctors would just give him some stronger antibiotics or similar, he and his family were devastated to receive a cancer diagnosis.

The following day Luke was admitted to the Queen Mary Hospital, paediatric oncology department. What followed was an barrage of needles, IV’s, bone aspirations, lumbar punctures, X-rays and an operation to insert an intravenous line into Luke’s chest to deliver future drugs. The treatment was a constant round of poison administered to help give Luke the best chance of recovery.

His parents took turns sleeping at the hospital, alternating between keeping Luke positive and spending time at home with his little sister. Keeping Luke, his sister and their own spirits high was exhausting for his parents and all involved, especially as the reality of living on a ward of sick children, all fighting their own battles, is not a happy place to be. Visitors were restricted due to the risk of infection, so Luke’s little sister could only watch from behind a glass window as her brother was treated. Luke received two years of chemotherapy, during which he suffered pain, nausea, vomiting, mood swings and hair loss, but in 2015 he received his final round of treatment.

Luke and his family have been through a journey no one would wish for, but being in Hong Kong proved to be a blessing. The family’s friends and community rallied around them, providing them with food, comfort and support when needed. The health care in Hong Kong is second to none and Luke was lucky to benefit from this, but there are many others who are less fortunate. It is because of this that Luke and his family hope to ‘pay it forward’ but supporting the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation.

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