Support, Care & Cancer

Story of Bapak Andre

Written & Interviewed by Alexandra Cheah, Community Development Intern, 2017

When we walked into his room for his interview, Bapak Andre greeted us with a strong voice and looked at us with bright eyes, despite being bedridden. A year ago, he had surgery to remove a tumour from his scapula bone (commonly called the shoulder blade), and the doctors declared him cancer-free. But the cancer came back. He is now unable to walk, and only have free movement of his right arm. When asked how he was feeling, he replied that he was feeling down, as just a few hours before the interview, his doctor, Dr Ho, told him that he had stage 4 leiomyosarcoma, a form of soft tissue cancer.

However, despite Dr Ho being the bearer of bad news, Bapak Andre said that his doctor, who has no intention of giving up and is always on the look for alternative treatments, is his pillar of strength and someone that he relies on, calling Dr Ho his “chief commander” in his battle against cancer. Bapak Andre believes that Dr Ho’s strong spirit and positivity was transferred to him, giving him strength and confidence to go on.

Bapak Andre also had nothing but praises for our pastoral care team, saying that they are his friends who visited him every day. He is thankful and happy with the people who had lifted up his spirits, and spent time with him, praying, joking, chatting and even offering to help him buy his daily necessities. For Bapak Andre, spiritual healing is as important as medical healing.

Ms Murna, our new physiotherapist, visits Bapak Andre twice a day, something which he looks forward to eagerly. Ms Murna made physiotherapy enjoyable for him, wearing a bright smile while explaining his physical condition to him. Bapak Andre happily told us about the first time he left his hospital room in a month, joking that Ms Murna is a strong girl, being able to lift him out of the hospital bed and placing him gently into the wheelchair to take him down to our gardens.

Bapak Andre wistfully said that it is his dream to eat again and return to his old, healthy self. It has been almost two months since he last had solid food, as he has difficulty swallowing. He is not giving up the fight against cancer, not with his family waiting for him back in Medan, including his soon-to-be 11-year-old son.

To new cancer patients, Bapak Andre have some advice: go to the oncologist immediately when you find out that you have cancer, and do not delay treatment. To quote Bapak Andre, “Sooner is better, faster is better”. He also encourages fellow cancer patients to stay positive and do not be afraid, as there are many treatments available.

It is amazing how all the support given by the people around Bapak Andre can keep his spirits up, despite him being in such a bad situation. The story of Bapak Andre shows that the moral and spiritual support of the people around patients can be as important as receiving medical help in the journey to recovering from cancer.