Bouquet: Some of society's truest heroes are in healthcare

Some of society's truest heroes are in healthcare

In an age when it seems that the only thing worth committing to writing is a grievance or a complaint, I would like to write a letter of gratitude to the staff of the National Cancer Centre.

My sister was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer last October, and her chemotherapy lasted from last November to this month.

Cancer is a disease that forces families to tear out the floorboards and scrape at the foundations in order to find the last ounces of hope and strength.

The staff at the cancer centre understood this ordeal, and met our concerns with expertise and clarity.

Most Singaporeans can expect professionalism and competence when dealing with our medical services.

But we were also met with a surfeit of warmth, empathy and compassion.

Throughout the process, from the greeting at the entrance to the metronomic drip from the chemo bags and the goodbye wave, what stood out was the human touch.

This is not hyperbole; the stark calculus of cancer means that a fair portion of patients do not survive the ordeal, and that truth is met with sensitivity and forbearance at the cancer centre.

The doctors and healthcare professionals saved my sister's life. It is not a trivial thing.

In fact, it is everything that matters. I can requite my gratitude only with this small gesture of writing a letter, and hope this experience will make us all more ready to be kind.

As a society, we reserve our adoration for the rich and famous, the billionaires, celebrities and sporting heroes.

We have got it wrong.

Some of our truest heroes are our healthcare workers. The National Cancer Centre is the very best of what humanity can be.

Nicholas Edmund Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2018, with the headline 'Bouquet'. Print Edition | Subscribe