85-year-old cancer survivor and amputee still wants to lend a helping hand

SINGAPORE - "I would rather die than amputate my hand!" This was Mr Chang Fook Tin's reply when doctors advised him to amputate his hand to prevent the cancerous cells from spreading late last year.

That was not the ex-teacher's first encounter with cancer.

Back in 2011, Uncle Chang discovered a small lump in his lower arm, which turned out to be Sarcoma, a rare form of muscle and soft tissue cancer. Fortunately, the retiree recovered after undergoing surgery and radiation therapy.

Little did he know that cancer would creep back into his life on that fateful night over a year ago, when he woke up with an intense pain in his right arm. An X-Ray confirmed it was a relapse. The cancer had now entered his bone, fracturing his lower arm bone into many pieces. To stop the cancerous cells from spreading further, doctors advised him to amputate his arm.

He refused to heed the doctor's advice. "I am already 84-year-old this year, how scary can death be?"

Within six months, the fractured arm was infected with pus. It had also started to rot and turned black. Still, Uncle Chang did not change his mind. Eventually the pain was too unbearable and the elderly man finally relented, and had his dominant hand amputated.

Writing, eating and getting dressed are just some of the basic skills Uncle Chang had to learn from scratch. Still suffering from "phantom arm pain", a common medical condition among amputees experiencing pain in the limb that is no longer there, Uncle Chang wishes to inspire others with his positive outlook in life.


The elderly man has a simple dream of lending a helping hand to others. "I hope that they can all be like me, optimistic and happy. Regardless of what illness you have, you have to keep telling yourself that the bad days will pass. Don't over-think and leave the treatment to the doctors. Focus on the positive and you will be happy. When you are happy, your route to recovery will be faster and smoother."

When he was hospitalised, Uncle Chang felt sad whenever he saw young patients bedridden and tormented by illnesses. "They are so young, and yet they are sick at such a young age, I hope I can help them in any way." A grandfather of five, he hopes that he can help bring more joy into their lives and provide a momentary relief from their physical pain.

Host Ken Low arranged for Uncle Chang to meet The Caring Clowns, a group of volunteers who don clown costumes and put on comedic performances at hospital wards.


With only the less dominant hand left, Uncle Chang already faces challenges in his daily life. Coupled with old age, his fingers have become less nimble. It is nearly impossible for him to master all the magic tricks and comedic performances in time for the hospital visit the coming weekend.

Nonetheless, Uncle Chang gives his all, simply because he wishes to bring joy to the children. Yet, he is worried about one thing - "I am afraid I will scare the kids with my missing arm."

Volunteers at The Caring Clowns have another concern. They are afraid that Uncle Chang will feel hurt or offended if the children laugh at his arm. Uncle Change heartily replies, "as long as I can make them happy, it is not a problem!"

Can he surpass his physical limitation and master the tricks before their hospital visit? Watch the video to find out.

For more stories on "Live Your Dream", please visit: www.zaobao.com/zvideos/live-your-dream

About "Live Your Dream"

"Live Your Dream"(完成一个梦) is one of 10 SPH-produced short-form digital video series as part of a pilot Public Service Broadcast initiative. In this 13 episode series, host Ken Low Yong Kian (Digital Content Producer, Chinese Media Group Digital) will try his best to fulfil people's dreams no matter how challenging it may be. All episodes come with English subtitles.

This series is also available on zaobao.sg website, as well as the mobile app.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.