Friday, April 17, 2020

Legends Never Die - Pt 2. Making 2018 really count for YC!

                                                   YC Leading LTF in Chishang Apr 2018

                   Beautiful pic taken by YC in Roelands, Australia on his morning walk.

Made this for YC in Perth!

                                                             Ban Jabo, N Thailand
"Things don’t always go the way we want it to be but we can always choose our attitude towards them. Remember you always have a choice and you must make the choice yourself – be it for better or for worse."  Chen Ying Chen 2019

These beautiful words were said by Ying Chang last year as he encouraged and guided our friend Alice from Taiwan who was going through a personal challenge. It best captured YC's spirit and drive as he battled Lung Cancer Stage 4 bravely just as he would tackle any adventure or steep climbs on his bicycle. To keep spinning and making the best of every opportunity to savour life. 

This YC did with great success and even joy from Jan 2018 to Mar 2020, a good 25.5 months. Not once did he complain about his difficult situation and YC really lived up to what he preached much to the admiration of all of us. YC has shown me what it means to live and to finish well, no matter what lies in front of us.

The day of bad news came on 29 Jan 2018, 544pm while YC, Chris and I were having afternoon tea at Thomson Plaza. We do this quite often and that meet was one of our usual hang out times where we discuss the world of bicycles and plans for the next adventure trip. YC is not usually late but for this meet he was as he had to go for a spine XRay at Mt Alvernia Hospital. After our last Mae Hong Son trip in Dec 2017, YC had complained about a backpain that refused to go away and hence, went for an investigation. He was not worried and was his usual self until he received a call from his wife. He looked normal but when Doreen WatsApp me this message:

Urgent prayers needed, YC has terminal lung cancer. Spread to spine. Bone collapsed. Pray for him or you may not get to see him next. No more cycling!

The news winded me and my mind was in shock. How can YC, the Legend, the epitome of health end up like this? The prognosis for someone with LC Stage 4 is a mere 7 months and we were all in disbelief as we struggled to make sense out of this. 48 years old is when life just begins to blossom. That night, our friends were informed and I prayed and seek solace from He who holds our lives in His good hands. Was there really a silver lining out of this? Can beauty really come out of ashes? 

We got into action to give YC the best medical care possible and next morning we whisked him to SGH. With the help of our medical friends, a string of consults and tests were lined up quickly. Scan showed tumours in the brain that was needed to be removed asap. 9 Feb was set. Like all brain surgery though, there is a risk that the patient will not come out the same cognitively. 

We harnessed all our friends to pray and a pre-surgery party was held for YC. Many came to see him too and his friends came from all walks of life. This lovely lady, Norliah wrote: "I want to see you cycling again!"

Claudine, Chief of Asian Cycling Network, one of YC's very good friends wrote:

13 August 2016 was a Day of Thanksgiving. Even the date itself 13 and the month, 8 is auspicious! We had escaped the bombs in Hua Hin by just a day and a total of 11 that rocked Thailand! This day was most memorable as we scaled the mountain range, rode through miles of road works and never had any accommodation booked. We trusted you and we trusted GOD and everything turned out well!

Tomorrow will be the same. Put your TRUST in HIM and all will be well!

All our prayers were heard and YC came out of a very successful surgery. If that was not enough, his recovery was amazing and he took less than a week to walk out of the hospital on his own 2 feet. I was in Australia then and getting this message from Doreen was the best news ever!

Nobody expected YC to make it back to his family for the traditional CNY Eve Dinner on 2018 but he did. Miracles do happen and we must always believe in them because God is a miracle God. YC enjoyed a very special celebration but that was not over as we also had an LTF celebration for him. The smiles tell it all!

As it was CNY celebrations, one of important things we did was to gather at Evangel Church for a time of thanksgiving and prayer. Very grateful to Ps Kevin Graves for praying over YC and we all had a very meaningful time.

Latest research on cancer see a very strong correlation between exercise and recovery and survivability. Under the guidance of Prof Celia, YC began to do long walks each morning of 6km each go. He recorded it on Strava and many of us were just blown away at his determination and grit. We could see his cycling and life attitude kicked in each day. 

One of the trips that was planned by YC and I before the illness hit him was to put together an ultimate 2 prong Taiwan adventure ride in April 2018. He was to lead a more challenging group, Team 1, who was to head north from Kaoshuing and scale Wulin, descent east to Hualien. Team 2 was to be led by me, heading south to Kenting then head north east along the beautiful coast. We were to rendevous in Yilan and enjoy the famous Hot Springs Resort there. But of course with his condition, there was no way YC was going to make it but he insisted that we carried on. Claudine took the lead for Team 1 and did very well.

Both teams had an amazing trip but in our hearts, there was something missing - YC. All the excitement we experienced felt incomplete. So it was an unexpected joy when we received news that YC was going to meet us at Chishang! When he finally showed up at the spic and span Railway Station at midnight, we were all ready to receive YC. 

Knowing Chishang like a local, YC led us to the many attractions, riding the hotel's complimentary bicycle and it was just like the good ole days and we savoured every minute of that. We went to visit the Waterwheel, a café up in the hills, Brown Ave of course, a soya bean factory and enjoyed a local lunch. This was probably one of the happiest days in the history of LTF.

We took many opportunities to have get-togethers for YC whenever I was in Spore (still living in Perth then) and one such meet up was when we celebrated the arrival of my new child - a Dahon Dove-Plus which weighed only 6.9kg. It was always fun for the gang to eat, laugh and just enjoy each other's company. Em Griffin, a Prof at Wheaton College once defined friends as "people who enjoy wasting time with each other" and indeed, this is something we do best.

In June, Papa very kindly took time off from his busy clinic to organised a trip to Taiping, Malaysia. This is usually a sleepy hollow of a hamlet that not many people will bother to stop, proceeding on to vibrant Penang. However, Papa grew up in Taiping and knew every nook and cranny, hence it was to be a most delightful experience.  The 4 of us did the 630km drive in one go and we had an amazing time. 

Taiping is known for the famous Lake Gardens and we enjoyed our morning and evening walks there, something that YC appreciated. This was an unintended result of tin mining activities 100 years ago during the British days and they decided to turn it into a beautiful lake. With Maxwell Hill overlooking it, the lakes are absolutely splendid. 

Of course, the food in Taiping is incredible and Papa being our CFO, Chief Foodie Officer, was in his element. My fear in visiting Taiping with him is always an increased waistline! Among the many culinary delights offered, the Duck Egg Fried Noodles is my favourite and here is YC enjoying it! 

Meanwhile back in Spore, there was always a ride or a makan organised for YC by his various friends.  YC belonged to a MTB group as well and he was well enough to do short rides. One thing that was abundantly clear was that YC was very well liked and well loved by so many. He also managed to squeeze in a trip to Taipei in August. 

In Sep, I was absolutely delighted when YC and a few wonderful friends decided to spend some time in Perth with me. YC had just gone to India to follow Doreen on a pilgrimage and almost immediately, joined us in Perth. The 2 weeks he lived in my home was very special and enjoyable. This was also a lovely time for our Perth friends to enjoy his company. 

We organised a trip down south to Margaret River and enjoyed some cycle rides together there with Lance, YC nephew who lives in Perth. He, my nephew Nic, Wayne and another friend rode 170km in a day to meet us! It was great to meet up with Frank and family too. He and his wife Molly put up an amazing BBQ dinner for us!

Pic taken by YC

It was a very good father and son time for YC and Wayne as well and it was heartwarming to see how close they were. Often, YC will spoil Wayne in giving him the best choices of food and here we are enjoying the famous Fish and Chips in Mandurah, Australia.

Meanwhile in Oct back in Spore, we had a big preparation for a combined birthday party of my 56th and Alice who flew to Spore for this. YC very kindly put her up as well as Carolen from Perth in his home. 

Carolen writes, "YC & Doreen always offered me hospitality whenever I stayed in Spore. He was a very generous, humble, caring person who always put others first. He would also be the first to offer help and support. A true friend who I miss very much!"

Before Carolen arrived, YC and I played tourist guide for Alice and we brought her to Artpartment where our friends Joeel and Esther run an amazing art school. 

Part one of the celebrations were at Ben and Prue's lovely home and they put up a really fantastic meal of home made Lasagna and baked veggies. 

We organised a little getaway to a Kelong, a fish farm in the Johor River where YC, and a few of us, with our guests spend a night on water. Poiseidon Oyster Bay Resort is really worth going and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. It was fun going up in Khee Jin's MPV. 

The big celebration was held at my home and it was so good to see everyone come together, especially those from overseas. We had about 30 folks squeezed into my home and we would have failed social distancing big time for sure now in Apr 2020.

We noticed that Alice had a rather cumbersome folding bike which she uses on and off the trains so we gave her a cutesy Bickerton Scout. Its minute size and light weight make it perfect for her 1km daily commutes. That really made her day and she couldn't stop crying tears of joy for 20 mins. LTF means really loving the fold and YC does that so well. 

Nov was another exciting month for YC as he joined us for the LTF 10th Annv Adventure once again to N Thailand, Mae Hong Son. Wayne came along all prepared this time in his new road bike and it was wonderful that we could all do this again like last year. The MHS Loop truly is one of the world's best touring route and YC played the role of navigator and sometimes driver of our mothership. Gary, Siew Wan, Wayne, Heng and I truly enjoyed ourselves together with YC esp at this special place in the mountains called Ban Jabo.

At the end of our MHS loop, I had to rush YC and Wayne to the airport as they wasted no time to make their way to Canadian Rockies in the middle of an icy winter. Papa and George had invited them over to join them for a winter holiday. Talk about being a jetsetter!

Looking at the wonderful year that went by, we are grateful that YC really enjoyed many meaningful moments of love, generosity and friendship. I am so grateful for everyone that has supported and helped made 2018 such a special one for YC. And the good news was that there was still 2019 to savour!