School a precious gift for young cancer patient James Lin Cheuk-ho
For most 13-year-olds, going to school can be a bit of a chore. But for James Lin Cheuk-ho, there is nothing he wants to do more.
The plucky Primary Five pupil was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer of the connective tissues two years ago.
He spent a year in hospital and managed to return to school for six months. But in June the cancer returned, affecting his heart and lungs.
His mother, Tse Wun-tai, said her son's dream of going to the secondary school next door had given him strength.
"When his little brother doubted whether his cancer could be cured, James said: 'I will definitely recover and then I'll get into S.K.H. Tsang Shiu Tim Secondary School'," she recalled.
"I was very touched. He is even stronger than I am. When I cried, it was him comforting me."
The family lives next to the school in Sha Tin. James said he had dreamed of studying there since he was in Primary Four.
"They get good academic results and the pupils are nice and polite," he said.
He was encouraged to follow his dream by principal Jaxon Wang Yu-tai, who, having learned of James' wish, gave him a uniform. He also invited him to join in some activities as soon as he was strong enough to leave hospital.
And last Friday, having finished his first six months of chemotherapy, James was able to attend the school's Christmas service and party.
Throughout his time in hospital, he has been able to keep up his studies thanks to the Red Cross Hospital Schools, which provide bedside teachers.
It was the principal of the hospital schools, Sue Chan Sui-ling, who told her friend Wang about James' desire to attend the Sha Tin school.
Wang said he had enrolled several Red Cross pupils as "honorary students".
"Their bodies may be weak but their spirits are strong. When James came to the school he brought joy and motivation," Wang said.
James visited the school for the first time in July. He spent time with several Form Five boys, who built action figures with him and took him on a tour of the school.
"His hands were a bit stiff but he was very focused on building the figures. We thought he might not be strong enough to take the pieces apart, but he insisted on doing it himself," said Leung Bok-man, who is now in Form Six and was excited to see James again last Friday.
James was weak and unsteady on his feet, but his classmates helped him join the party.
And after a fun day at school, his friends told him they hoped to see him again in another six months, after his next round of chemotherapy.
James wished them well with their exams.
His mother thanked the two schools for supporting the family. She said James had his first chemotherapy session in 2011 - on the same day she was admitted to hospital to give birth to her third son.