Legacy of a cancer hero

By Joyee Chan

Freddie Ng's determination to live life to the full despite cancer left a lasting impression

By Joyee Chan |

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The story of 22-year-old cancer fighter Freddie Ng Ting-fat continues to inspire his family, students and teachers across the city even after he lost his battle against the disease in December.

In an acclaimed essay submitted to the Junior Writers Award, his cousin Yeung Lok-chi wrote how he had been inspired to become a role model by Freddie, whom he said had never given up and had shown strength and compassion.

Top of the class

Lok-chi, a 13-year-old student at International Christian School, was named the Greatest Pen - the contest's highest honour - and came first in the category for students aged 11 to 13. Entrants were asked to address the question: "What is my role in society?"

He won a two-week exchange tour to Britain's Oxford and Cambridge universities in July worth HK$42,600.

The newly-established annual competition attracted more than 1,000 entries from secondary school students studying in Hong Kong and Macau. It seeks to encourage teenagers to think independently and critically and to express their opinions through writing.

Taking inspiration

Lok-chi believes Freddie's story will influence and motivate many. He said in an interview: "He is a great [role model]. He was sick and in such a terrible condition, but he kept on studying ... So unless I'm 100 per cent sure I can't do something, I shouldn't stop trying."

At 18, Freddie was told that he had a type of cancer known as soft tissue sarcoma and underwent surgery to have nerves affected by the cancer removed, shortly before he was due to take his A-levels. He could not sit the exams as he was hardly able to move his right hand after the operation.

Standing ovation

But thanks to his distinguished performance at the HKCEE and his passion for medicine, he was admitted to the University of Hong Kong's pharmacy school and completed his pharmacy degree with first-class honours, in addition to being awarded three scholarships. But sadly his condition rapidly deteriorated as the cancer spread and he died just a month after receiving his graduation certificate to a standing ovation from 2,700 teachers and students.

Hoping to live life to its fullest like Freddie did, Lok-chi travelled to Indonesia and helped the country's underprivileged children through his school's annual Week Without Walls programme. Freddie's fearlessness and determination also motivated Lok-chi to lead his teammates to win a soccer semi-final after having fallen well behind in the first half.

Freddie's memory

In a way, Freddie continues to live on in the young champion's work. Lok-chi's advice for aspiring writers is to write from your heart, share encouraging stories and give examples to make your piece more persuasive.

The Junior Writers Awards 2014 was jointly organised by Norton House Global Education Initiative, Senate House Education, Upper House Academy and Young Post.

Enjoy reading Lok-chi's winning essay and keep a lookout for the other top pieces next week.