Cancer watch

From needing care to carer: award-winning Hong Kong cancer survivor tells of her journey to becoming a doctor

Angeline Lo, among five winners of the Outstanding Little Life Warriors Award, used experience as motivation to become a physician

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 August, 2017, 1:50pm

As a teen, Angeline Lo Oi-shan cheated death after enduring eight months of cancer treatment.

Now cancer-free for more than 20 years, she is able to share her experience with those going through similar challenges.

“While the treatment process can be difficult, there is hope, so don’t give up,” Lo, who was diagnosed at the age of 11 with a rare malignant tumour of fibrous tissue, said.

The 36 year old was one of five winners of the third Outstanding Little Life Warriors Award, who were honoured on Sunday for their courage and resilience. The awards were organised by charity group Little Life Warrior Society.

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Lo said her illness came without much warning. “There were no symptoms but when my mother was helping me wash my hair, she noticed a bump on the back of my head,” she said.

She then underwent surgery at Queen Mary Hospital, where doctors removed a fibrosarcoma tumour as big as a Chinese soup bowl, along with some bones in her head. After that, she went through two to three months of chemotherapy and had another operation to put prosthetic bones into her head.

Lo said the experience was trying, as she had to deal with painful wounds from the surgical operations, a weak body and hair loss due to chemotherapy. She also missed about half a year of school.

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But Lo did not let adversity defeat her. She was instead motivated to study to become a doctor.

“A lot of doctors and nurses put in effort to counsel ... young patients and their parents,” she said. “It showed how they really cared about every child there.”

But she faced an obstacle to her dream job.

She did not do well enough in the A-levels, the examination taken by final-year secondary school pupils at the time, and did not manage to get into any of the two medicine schools in the city.

“I was devastated,” she said.

But she persevered to become the only student that year to be transferred to Chinese University’s faculty of medicine after a year in the institution’s journalism programme.

Lo, now a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology in Prince of Wales Hospital, urged those waiting for university placement results on Monday to relax, adding that a loss might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.