PETALING JAYA - It was a bittersweet moment for everyone who knew the late Ngeo Jia Yee as they bade farewell to her yesterday morning.
The 12-year-old, who had been described by those close to her as bright, optimistic and determined, lost her battle with cancer in the wee hours of Thursday.
Present at her wake earlier were her music teacher, social workers and relatives who were sad yet glad that Jia Yee was going to her final resting place.
Jia Yee's younger brother wrote a letter and drew for his sister, wishing that guardian angels would look out for her.
Music teacher Ashley Ang, who taught Jia Yee the piano, said that she was one of her best students.
"She was very interested in music and really put in an effort to learn," said Ang who started lessons with her in late 2012.
She added that though the visually impaired Jia Yee was always weak from her cancer treatment, she would put in effort to practise daily and progressed faster than normal kids.
MCA National Youth Public Service and Social Welfare Bureau deputy chairman Alex Lee, who brought Jia Yee's case to public attention in 2012 when appealing for donation for her treatment, was also there to pay his last respects.
"Her motivation to live was very strong. Even when she knew that her cancer had spread, she was the one consoling her mother," said Lee who visited Jia Yee every few weeks.
Jia Yee was two when she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, better known as eye cancer, and underwent an operation to remove her right eye.
In early 2012, the cancer returned and she was also diagnosed with jaw bone cancer.
She underwent chemotherapy and an operation to remove the infected jaw bone but doctors found that her cancer had spread and she was in the final stage of the disease.
Her mother Tan Kim Lan, 37, said a few days before she died, Jia Yee had told her to buy small purses for all her uncles and aunties.
"She had also bought sweets for her little cousins. I guess she wanted to give a farewell gift to everyone," she said.
Although she would be spending Mothers Day without Jia Yee, Tan said she was hopeful for the future.
"My life in the last decade has been focused on Jia Yee. I will make new plans after her funeral," she said.