When God takes away something. He gives you something in return. That’s how his miracle works for Mo-tak.
The pale complexion and sparse hair belied Mo-tak’s ailment. Her smile and her positive attitude, however, revealed the other side of a cancer-stricken patient’s story. She asserted, “The future is bright, because nobody aspires for an uncertain and dark future.”
In early 1996, Mo-tak was diagnosed with astrocytoma. Cancerous cells were affecting her brain and spinal cord. From then on, she was in and out of hospital regularly.
Mo-tak comes from a devout Christian family. Her father is a pastor and all her family members the same beliefs. In crises, she naturally turned to her religion for support. It was her faith that lent her the courage to conquer the greatest physical pain.
The removal of surgical pins marked the most painful moment in her hospital stay. As each pin was removed, she tried to say a prayer to relieve her excruciating pain. Her prayers were answered. The subjective mind told her the pain was lessened and it did.
“It’s just like an injection. It wasn’t painful anymore,” Mo-tak remembered.
Recalling her hospitalization, Mo-tak frankly admitted that she had losses and gains. She was particularly grateful to all those who showered their love on her during those difficult days. “The biggest reward was I found out many people loved me. I had numerous visitors,“ Mo-tak observed.
To her delight and greatest surprise, Mo-tak forged a strong relationship with her elder brother, who is about her age. “Now, my brother can be very soft at times. He calls me Mo-tak gently. He visited me in the hospital and brought me my favourite food.” The deep love between brother and sister was not attained easily. The relationship had gone through some stormy times and tests. When cancer first struck the young girl, her then 11-year-old brother was in his rebel stage. He refused to accept her illness and threw frequent tantrums. The family chided the brother for his bad temper. The two siblings’ relationship became tense.
Fortunately, the difficult stage had passed. The two siblings had since grown up. Mo-tak’s brother became mellow and more understanding. She appreciated her brother’s hardship. Cancer had taught the two of them a lesson of love.
To Mo-tak, the biggest side effect of cancer is memory loss. She noted a decline in memory. “The doctor says the new drug I switched to recently will affect my memory. I was aware of that. I do find my thinking getting sluggish. That bothers me.” She stumbled over words in her mind. “Once I wanted to say sushi, but I had to think long and hard to come up with the word. Then I had to go through a laborious stage just to write the word.” A bath was a test on her memory. One evening, Mo-tak’s mother took her for a bath. But she could hardly remember that. The following day she even argued with her mother that she was not given a bath. Mo-tak bemoaned her memory lapse, “I can’t recall that incident at all. Even now, I still can’t remember. My memory used to be very good. It is much poorer now.” Even though cancer damaged part of Mo-tak’s memory, she did not falter. She studied hard and paid good attention in class. Her determination and good attitude won her teachers’ praises. What Mo-tak lost in cognitive power, she made up for with perseverance and determination.
When she resumed her schooling, Mo-tak did not feel the age gap between her junior classmates. She cherished the opportunity to study all the more. She even enrolled in an Outward Bound training programme to challenge her endurance one more time with a positive approach and the help of God.