15 Aug 2013 will always be a date for me to remember. I lost my good friend, Angeline Khoo, on this day after her eight years long battle with leukemia.
Angeline was my secondary schoolmate. We knew each other for more than 20 years ago, but somehow, we got disconnected after we both graduated from our secondary school. I went to pursue my bachelor degree in Johor (another state in Malaysia), and I lost contact with her.
Two years ago, I reconnected with some of my secondary schoolmates in Singapore. Angeline is one of them. While I was delighted to meet my schoolmates again, I was also sad to learn that Angeline was diagnosed with leukemia few years ago.
I met her for lunch six months ago. She went for medical check-up on that day, so she took half day off from work and we met up after her check-up. She was in her usual cheery mode. We chat a lot and she told me that she was waiting for the government subsidy for her bone marrow transplant.
Thankfully, her subsidy was approved not long after that. She was a brave person. She still sent us pictures of herself via WhatsApp when she was hospitalized for her bone marrow transplant. And she told us that she has tried all possible treatments, and if she failed in this battle, it is truly fated. I was in awe with her complete optimism.
Two weekends ago, when all Singaporeans were cheering for National Day, she was admitted to the hospital. Her condition was very critical and her doctor said that she might not be able to survive for more than a week.
Friends rushed to the hospital to visit her. I took time-off from work to visit her too. She was admitted into the isolation ward at NUH. As I walked pass the glass panel of the isolation ward, I saw her frail body lying on the hospital bed. My heart was broken.
My heart beat doubled when I walked into the ward. She has lost so much weight and all her hair. She couldn’t eat nor talk because of the ulcers in her mouth and throat. She could only whisper my name when she saw me.
I told her not to talk. I touched her gently on her face. She nodded her head, and closed her eyes to rest after that.
Her family members were taking turns to take care of her in the hospital. Her younger sister told me that she could only drink liquids, so they made milk into lollipops for her. Lollipops are cold, and they are less painful for her to consume.
It was heartbreaking as I saw her biting on the lollipop very slowly, and her hands were trembling. It was even more heartbreaking to see how much she has suffered because of her cancer. I left the hospital feeling terribly sad, not knowing if I could see her again.
Two days later, I received an SMS from a friend that Angeline has passed away peacefully in the hospital. A friend whom I’ve known 20 years ago was gone! A friend who used to be very active, full of ambitions and like a big sister to me was gone forever! I felt so sad.
I hope that in next life, she’ll be blessed with good health and she’ll be able to experience things that she has missed in this life.
Rest in peace, my dear friend. You’ll always be part of my memories.