66 year-old Mr Ng Lian Hay was devastated when the doctor told him he had stage 4 lung cancer. He said, “Stage 4 means there is no hope at all. It just means waiting for death.” He received what he felt to be his ‘death sentence’ in 2020.
Despite feeling helpless and hopeless, he tried to fight the cancer with chemotherapy; but it was futile. His symptoms worsened. He used to be a cleaner but could not work anymore as he struggled with pain and breathlessness. Being single and staying alone in a one-room rental flat, even his wish of remaining at home became challenging as his legs weakened.
Mr Ng has a loving elder sister – 74 year-old Mdm Ng Lye Choon. Despite having her own family commitments, she travelled by bus and MRT for an hour each way to visit her younger brother every day. She accompanied him for most of the day, prepared his meals and cleaned his home, giving him a comfortable environment to rest. Though it was tiring and stressful for her, she did it readily to honour his wish of spending his remaining days at home.
Mr Ng came under the care of Assisi Hospice Home Care team in January 2021. Our nurse, doctor and medical social worker visited him regularly and provided urgent help to him and Lye Choon. Mr Ng was admitted to Assisi Hospice Inpatient ward twice when his pain became unmanageable at home. Lye Choon said, “Both the Home Care nurse and doctor came and checked on him when he was in a lot of pain, and they advised him to be admitted. They helped to get a free ambulance* for him. In the inpatient ward, the doctor helped to relieve his pain.”
Mr Ng was discharged after a few days as he still preferred to be at home. Our medical social worker helped to get a donated hospital bed for him.
Our Care Team persuaded Mr Ng to attend Assisi Hospice Day Care Centre for further support. Mr Ng attended Day Care three days a week, receiving the clinical care that he needed. He benefitted from the physiotherapy sessions and interaction with our staff. This also provided much respite for Lye Choon. She said, “There are people who will take care of him there, so I am less stressed. They will pick him up and bring him back, and they (the van escort volunteer) will even wait for him to go into the house and lie down safely on the bed before leaving.”
Mr Ng passed away peacefully on 1 August 2022. It was a continuous journey as we sought to honour Mr Ng’s wish to spend his remaining days at home. Support our work as we journey with patients and caregivers like Mr Ng and Lye Choon.
*Ambulance fee supported by donation.