Warriors in life: Seven youths awarded for their incredible achievements despite tough medical conditions
Among them is a 28-year-old who suffered six bouts of cancer but represented Hong Kong at the 2014 Asian Para Games
Peace Chan Man-hing is facing seemingly insurmountable odds and uncertainties in life.
Since the age of 11, she has battled six bouts of cancer: in her leg, her breast and her brain, with the latest one – a relapse of her brain cancer – in April. She lost her right leg at the age of 18 as the result of recurring bone cancer.
But the 28-year-old has two reasons not to give up her battle – her family and sailing. Ever since she got into the sport at the age of 23, she fell in love with it because of the challenge and fulfilment it brought her.
In 2014, she became one of the sailing representatives for Hong Kong in the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea.
“It was really an eye-opener,” said Chan. “I saw many other people with disabilities more serious than mine but who were living in their own ways. I realised that my problem was actually very minor. I learnt a lot from them.”
Chan is one of the seven who received the “Outstanding Little Life Warriors Award” yesterday. The other six, aged between 19 and 24, all had their own arduous battles against plights such as cancer, leukaemia and blindness, and all gained achievements in life despite the challenges.
The award, into its second year, is organised by the Little Life Warrior Society, a mutual support group set up by the Prince of Wales Hospital for medical staff, patients and their parents of its Centre for Cancer.
Chan was diagnosed with bone cancer in her right leg in 2000 and suffered relapses twice in 2005 and 2007. During the second relapse, she had to have her leg amputated.
In 2011, doctors found cancer in her brain and told her she might only have two years to live. The news destroyed her.
“I kept asking why I had to give away my life, after giving away my leg,” said Chan. “It was really hard losing my leg. I had to face not only physical pain but pressure from society.”
In the same year, she found sailing through a trial course. She never thought she could do sports in her condition, but she discovered that she liked the excitement in the sailboat specifically designed for people with disabilities.
Conquering challenges such as losing her sense of orientation and balance, Chan started to compete in several local games and eventually fought her way to Incheon, although she did not win any medal.
“I felt I had done great already by being able to join the games,” she said.
She had to stop training to concentrate on treatment for breast cancer last year and the recent relapse of brain cancer.
“I don’t even dare to plan what I will do in December because I don’t know whether I will still be around by then,” she said.
She said she would not give up, because she did not want to leave behind her retired father, as well as her mother and younger sister, who together were making less than HK$20,000 a month.
Another award recipient,19-year-old Siu Hoi-yan, lost her eyesight when she was just three months old. But music became her greatest passion after she discovered that she could recreate a piece on piano after listening to it only once.
Now Siu has had an offer from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and a verbal offer from Chinese University in music. But after winning a Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund scholarship for overseas studies, she said she was still waiting for news from her preferred institution, the University of London.
“I cannot see, but music is like a photo book for me,” said Siu. “Different kinds of music lead me to different memories, people or histories.”
The other recipients include Yu Wing-han, 22, who battled leukaemia at age two but now excels in karate; Tang Lok-hin, 27, who suffered from leukaemia in childhood but recently won a patent for a Shanghai-based electric car company; Tong Kwan, 23, who had leukaemia at 14 but is pursuing his master’s degree at Chinese University in information engineering; Book Sau-lai, 26, who was diagnosed with cancer of the neural system, but is now pursuing a doctoral degree in philosophy; and Man Wai-ying, 19, who had leukaemia at the age of three but is now studying at Chinese University’s medical school.