'I'll keep him happy until the end', says wife of terminally ill patient

'I'll keep him happy until the end', says wife of terminally ill patient
Mrs Wong Boon Meng stayed by her husband's side despite his having cancer.

Her husband, Mr Wong Boon Meng, a 60-year-old former foreman of a demolition company, suffers from chronic end-stage interstitial lung disease and is on the last leg of his life journey.

When he was diagnosed with the terminal lung disease in 2012, doctors told Madam Choy Ah Choon that he had only one year left to live.

Interstitial lung disease affects the tissue and space around the air sacs of the lungs, affecting the ability to breathe.

Doctors say it can be caused by long-term exposure to hazardous materials, such as asbestos.

Once lung scarring occurs, it is generally irreversible and a lung transplant is the only option.

Madam Choy, 58, a housewife, recalls: "When we were told that the success rate was not high at his age, we decided against the transplant."

Mr Wong had been coughing persistently since 2010 and was hospitalised twice. But it was only two years later that he was diagnosed.

Madam Choy, who was then a babysitter, gave up her job to take care of her husband.

She says: "It was not good to have him coughing around the children."


Love for her husband of 40 years has kept her going strong. They met when she was just 18. She was a waitress at his elder sister's restaurant and he was doing his national service.

They fell in love after "several movie dates".

They got married a year later, in 1975. The couple have two sons and a daughter.

Madam Choy believes Mr Wong's previous job at the demolition company may have been the cause of his illness.

She says: "His workers wore masks at work, but he didn't."

For the past two years, Madam Choy has been taking care of Mr Wong: feeding him medicine, ensuring that his oxygen is sufficient and cleaning him.

She also takes him in his wheelchair to wherever he wants to go, like his favourite coffee shop, about two bus stops away, where they will have their breakfast every morning.

It's not easy for Madam Choy, who has a bad back and weak knees, but she is happy to do it.

"I want to do my best for him, to keep him happy until the end. I don't want to have to look back with regrets that I haven't done my utmost to take care of him," she says, with a first hint of a tear at the corner of her eye.

This article was first published on Feb 15, 2015.
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