• Benevolence In Action

    29 December 2017

    “My fight with leukemia and how the Lighthouse Club was there to help.” By Marcus Cheung

    It all started with a common cold and a visit to the GP in June 2014, a prescription and then a follow up visit to clear the symptoms. But things didn’t go as expected..

    A day after the follow up with my GP I suffered stomach pains and was admitted to the North Lantau Hospital where I was diagnosed with swollen lymph glands and transferred to the nose, throat and ear department of Yan Chai Hospital for treatment. My stomach pain was forgotten and my swollen glands were now the problem.

    The next day was spent with doctors looking at my charts and discussing my test results. Further blood samples were taken for further tests and by now I had an inkling that something something really serious was happening to me, I just didn’t know what it was. Then I was informed that I was being transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital which is where they broke the news to me: I had Acute Myeloid Leukemia and that I needed to start treatment immediately.

    “My world just fell apart.”

    As I struggled to let the diagnosis sink in my mind was awash with different thoughts: was the diagnosis somehow wrong, can we get a second opinion, do we go private or stay in the public system, what else can we do? I saw the sense of urgency conveyed by the doctors so I quickly gave my consent to treatment.

    The chemotherapy was very unpleasant. Hair loss is a given from the treatment but I also lost my appetite; my taste buds were affected and I could not stand the taste of water, had regular high fevers, was constantly dizziness and always nauseous. The chemotherapy also caused my speech to slur and I temporarily lost control of the left side of my body. This was terrifying but I was told that this is a side effect from the chemotherapy which affects only 1 in 100 people, but it was caught in time early, but due to the seriousness of this complication my treatment was halted temporarily and I had to undergo daily physiotherapy. I literally had to learn to walk again, first with a walking frame, then a walking stick and finally on my own.

    My hospital stay lasted a little over three months and as a morale booster I was allowed “leave” from the hospital for a few days to see my family. Sleeping in my own bed was one of the most satisfying things ever! I went into the hospital weighing 96kg and left weighing just 63kg. Treatment eventually resumed and I completed the chemotherapy treatment in January 2015.

    “This was not the end!”

    I was told that my DNA made me more susceptible to a re-occurrence of the cancer and that a bone marrow transplant would reduce this probability. The search to find a bone marrow donor began with my close relatives, my brother and sisters, but we were incompatible. No compatible donors were found in Hong Kong so the search moved to Asia. After 8 months a compatible donor was located in China. The bone marrow transplant was successfully carried out on 19 January 2016. I am most grateful to the donor for the tremendous sacrifices he made for me!

    I have been most fortunate in that the side effects from the transplant have been minimal. I am currently taking immunosuppressant medicine twice a day to prevent rejection. The is gradually being reduced and hopefully I will be completely off the medicine in the next three or four months.

    Whilst I am on the therapy I take extra precautions to minimise the risk of infections and other complications. I eat at home, stay away from crowds, avoid using the mass transport system and minimise my exposure to sunlight as I am more prone to skin cancer. I have not really stepped out of my flat since my transplant except for visits to the hospital for my checkups and if I must go out then I have to cover up from head to toe with sunhat and sunglasses.

    Colleagues informed me about the Lighthouse Club and its benevolent fund. I am so grateful for the financial assistance that the Lighthouse Club as provided me when I was so in need. Notwithstanding this generosity, LHC has also helped by providing a monthly allowance whilst I am on a “sabbatical” from work.

    I would like to say thank you to the Lighthouse Club who has provided such generous support to me and my family. Since I have been housebound, I was not been able to accompany my family on any outings but the Lighthouse Club also arranges social outings for families to give them a break from the daily issues at home. My wife and children went on several such outings which included visits to Lau Fau Shan, CLP Open Day and Mai Po Nature Reserve.

    I also take this opportunity to say thank you to all my friends and colleagues at URS Scott Wilson/Benaim China now AECOM for their support and especially in keeping my position for the day I return to work. The last few years seem very surreal. I can’t believe all that has happened. Thanks to the support of the Lighthouse Club and my colleagues and friends I am currently enjoying my time at home with the family and just recuperating.

    All in all, and in spite of everything, life feels good and now I can imagine a future that seems very bright!





    About The Lighthouse Club, 30th Anniversary in Hong Kong and Asia!