"Your father's lymph node will be sent for a biopsy, don't worry too much." Those words from the doctor sent shivers down my spine because as a former medical student, I had the worst outcome in my mind. You see, the most common diagnosis for painless swollen lymph nodes that appear all over the body is lymphoma (lymphatic cancer). Sure enough, my father was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma almost a year ago. At first, he refused to see a specialist and attributed the swollen lymph nodes to a common infection. I remember arriving at my hometown after a grueling 9-hour bus ride. I took a 2 hour nap, went for a quick shower and forced my dad to consult a specialist. Thus, his 8-month long and courageous battle with cancer began.
If you are wondering why I am setting a GoFundMe, remember my 9-hour bus ride? Well, I am no stranger to long distance bus rides as I studied Medicine in the National University of Singapore from 2015 to 2017. I live in a town called Ipoh which is a long way from NUS. I have worked very hard my whole life and believe me when I say I was super proud of myself when I was able to obtain the prestigious ASEAN scholarship to study there. My results and the accolades I achieved over the years made me the only Malaysian international in my class of 300 medical students. I thought I could make it, but life had other plans for me. For 2 years, my results were never good enough to hit the scholarship mark and after the 2nd warning letter, I had lost my scholarship. I come from a middle-income family so, I would have never attempted to study there if there was no scholarship in the first place.
I went for all the resits available to improve my results. But none were good enough. I started to think that maybe medicine is not meant for me. But the patients that I visited in the hospital told me that I would be a good doctor one day from how I talked to them. But then I also told myself that being nice and being a competent doctor are two different things. But I did so well in my high school and A-levels, I had perfect scores and gained invaluable experience/certificates in so many areas. So many buts and whys. However, none of it was able to delay the inevitable walk of shame. I remember looking back at the Medicine faculty in NUS with tears streaming down my cheeks thinking of how much I have disappointed everyone close to me.
I took my final bus ride as an NUS student from Singapore back to Ipoh on that day itself. Upon arrival, I took a nap, went for a quick shower and forced my dad my dad to consult a specialist. I am pretty sure you know what happened next. One tragedy after another. My life had been completely turned upside down. My father had insurance but it wasn't enough so we had to take our savings out to pay for his chemotherapy treatments. My sister was still studying back then and my mum is just a housewife. We did not have a steady income at all.
One evening before my father's first chemotherapy, he sat me and my mother down. "I want you to continue your dreams. You wasted 2 years already. You cannot afford to lose more time." His words made no sense to me. My father has cancer and he is asking me to go start studying again after my failure in Singapore? And I never forget what both my parents told me next. They told me that one failure does not mean the end of my life or my dreams and that they have assured faith in me to study, practice and graduate as a doctor in the future.
Long story short, I helped my parents settle down everything to prepare my father for his journey in fighting cancer. From claiming insurance for my father to delivering stocks in my dad's lorry and even being a witness to my father while he made his will, I did all that in a span of 1 month before I embarked on my second journey as a medical student at Newcastle University of Medicine in Johor, Malaysia.
I took a government loan for starters and sustained my studies with some of my family's savings and borrowings from supportive relatives. Back at home, my dad was responding well to the treatments and my mum has finally come to terms with my dad's disease. My sister was also in her final semester of diploma studies. Everything seemed to slow down and finally, we could breathe. Well, once again, life had other plans.
I received two emails; one from ASEAN office and another one from the Ministry of Health Singapore. Basically, they want me to repay all that they have sponsored me for the 2 years in Singapore. That amounts to roughly SGD 350,000 which is about RM 1043665. Yep, 1 million Ringgit. I have asked for them to waive it but they adamantly declined despite my family's financial situation. I have asked for them to delay the repayment until I start working after graduating but they refuse to give me or my family any options other than to pay them failing which, they will take legal actions. So far, only ASEAN is considering the 2nd option.
In conclusion, my life is now a mess. I think that is the best example of an understatement. If you are wondering, I am already moving to my 2nd year of medical studies at my new university after passing comfortably in my first year. I have gained a little bit of my loss confidence back and have also gotten my academic pursuits back on track. But right now I am faced and threatened with an impossible request which is to repay both agencies. I am planning to pay them little by little but in doing so, I will have to sacrifice some of my college funding. This is where I need all the help I can get. I have always been an independent individual, depending on my own strength and intellect. However, I cannot do this alone anymore and I need your help. I am sincerely hoping that everyone reading this can spare me some compassion and love (that ASEAN and MOH do not consider giving at the moment) in the form of donations and prayers. God bless you!!