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Be Thankful

Testimony of Dr Daniel Kwek

(Speaker of "Let the soul speak, through images", a talk on the basic techniques of photography held on Zoom on 22/1/22)

Dear brethren,

Greetings in the Lord!

This is an overdue update that I owe you, being cognizant that you, or some of you prayed and journeyed with my family and myself during my illness.

I was carted to the Cancer Centre at NUH in October 2018, on a most ordinary day after a morning walk to the Bukit Timah Hill. I was at the A&E at night to get some quick fix for some skin inflammation/infection. Just when I was to be discharged with some antibiotic, my lab test results came out and prevented me from returning to the life and the way of life I was used to.

Very quickly I was subjected to the first round of chemotherapy in my life within days of arrival at the Cancer Centre. My “bad” white cells were escalating in number in a frenzy. That froze all my life and activities by a month in the hospital.

In the course of my work I had always anticipated this day as I cared for patients in the ward. Consciously or otherwise, I was telling myself one day it could well be my turn: illnesses and diseases don’t recognise professions, neither persons. And all the Christian teachings, scripture verses and even sermons, came in useful in that they helped me hold up a calm surface as I went through the initial treatments. In fact I was so well prepared that the first practical thing I did was to seek help from a Christian brother who is a lawyer. I got my will, LPA and PA all done up, covering every possible eventualities.

Remember Job? Just try to behave like him. Must be a good testimony, especially in challenging time. Must trust God. Must encourage the saints.

As time went by, and as the prospect of a quick fix eluding us, the prognosis of an illness that carried a high risk of bad relapse began to sink in, and the uncertainty of getting a bone marrow donor hang over our heads, some of the surface stuff began to crumble.

Then came the need for a second round of chemo. Then the third. My hair began to shed. My strength left me. My skin broke out in rashes. My blood vessels got infected and choked. My mucosa gave way to bleeding ulcers in the throat, an aversion of food crept over me. Several episodes of bone drilling to evaluate my marrow, many long waits at the radiology room, the emergency departments, and even more silent wakeful nights in the isolation room, the fall and wakeup in own pool of urine, the embarrassment of being showered by the nurse…

Why Lord? I am not perfect (but who is?) and didn’t I serve you? (teaching, preaching, ruling, late nights…) all these years?

Well just to share briefly to give a glimpse of what went through me those days.

Today (30/01) I stand at the 4-year mark post-transplant. The relapse risk remains but medically I am well. Though my blood indices hover at low normal zone, I am literally doing what I have been doing at baseline. The Lord has been very gracious and merciful to grant a donor within two to three months whose marrow basically matched fully with mine. I was transplanted 4 years ago this day. Many more months of oral chemotherapy followed. Now I have been drug free for the past 1 ½ years. I have returned to work but have elected to kept it part time.

I have come back to a life that is very different from pre-illness. I have surrendered all my portfolios at work and in church (some of them had to be taken from me).

The Lord has humbled me in many ways. He has taught me many things, and shown me things that I need to go on learning.

One of the big ones is to be thankful.

So today I really want to thank God for all His goodness. Psalm 103: 1-3 basically summarises it.

I want to thank all of you who have held us up in your prayers. May your souls be encouraged and blessed by the Lord.

I also thank my donor, with whom I had a chance to (finally) meet last year. May the Lord’s saving goodness rest upon him.

I am not sure how the way ahead would be like but He has taught me to be thankful for every new day. Blessed be His name!


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