6 distinctions despite missing a year of school

Lian Jie Qi of Hua Yi Secondary School was diagnosed with leukaemia in January 2018 and missed the whole Sec 3 year. He went straight into Sec 4 - and still managed to get six distinctions in his O-level exams.
Lian Jie Qi of Hua Yi Secondary School was diagnosed with leukaemia in January 2018 and missed the whole Sec 3 year. He went straight into Sec 4 - and still managed to get six distinctions in his O-level exams.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

He did not study or attend school throughout his Secondary 3 days in 2018, spending much of his time playing computer games instead.

Lian Jie Qi had, in fact, missed school on doctor's orders, after being diagnosed with leukaemia in January that year.

His parents wanted him to repeat his Sec 3 year, but he wanted to graduate with his classmates, whom he has known since they started Sec 1 together.

So when he was given the green light to go back to school last year, the Hua Yi Secondary School student insisted on being promoted to Sec 4 even though he was lagging behind in his studies.

Yesterday, the 16-year-old was elated to find out that he had attained six distinctions - two A1s and four A2s - out of eight subjects in the O-level exams.

"I couldn't study at all in Sec 3 because I was going for chemotherapy about twice a week. The after-effects were nausea and fatigue," he told The Straits Times, adding that playing computer games was a way to help him cope while undergoing treatment for his bone cancer.

When he first came back to school, he struggled to catch up.

"The teacher was teaching new chapters at the start of the year but there were all the Sec 3 chapters that I had not learnt yet," he said.

But his teachers sat down with him at least once a week after school for one-to-one lessons to help him. They came up with extra worksheets and assignments just for him, which he diligently completed.

When not attending the extra after-school lessons, he would study with his classmates. They would explain concepts to him and help him when he was stuck.

To relieve his stress from studying, Jie Qi sometimes played basketball, which was his co-curricular activity (CCA).

 
 
 
 

He had been captain of the school team in Sec 1 and 2.

Mr Edwin Khoo, the teacher-in-charge of the CCA, said: "When he was captain, he took great care of his peers and juniors, who, in turn, took care of him when he fell ill."

Jie Qi, an only child, has been cancer-free since October last year.

His mother, Madam Yong Lai Teng, 50, said it has been a very difficult time for him.

Recalling the ordeal, she said that in January 2018, she and her husband, construction site manager Lian Suen Chiang, 50, had found lumps on Jie Qi's body and took him to a doctor for a check-up.

He was diagnosed in a matter of days.

"Initially, we wanted him to repeat the Sec 3 year because we were worried he would be too stressed in Sec 4 if he couldn't catch up," said Madam Yong, an administrative executive.

"But we understood how he felt. He didn't want to be behind his peers, so we supported him in the end."

Jie Qi, who has not decided what to do next and is open to both the junior college and polytechnic routes, said he will be taking it one step at a time.

But whatever he decides, his parents will be behind him.

"We always tell him that as long as he tries his best and he's happy, we will be too. We are very proud of him," said Madam Yong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2020, with the headline '6 distinctions despite missing a year of school'. Print Edition | Subscribe