Pilot, 35, struck down by brain tumour

SINGAPORE - Pregnant with her first child in 2006, she was at home when she got a call from her husband's air force squadron colleague.

"Kimmy, sit down. I have something to tell you," she recalled him saying.

He then said that her pilot husband, Captain Will Leong Yew Wah, had fainted while jogging at their base.

When Mrs Kimmy Leong, now 34, went to Changi General Hospital that day, she thought he was dehydrated and chided him for not drinking water.

But a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan conducted the next day revealed that he had a brain tumour.

He went for an operation and the tumour was successfully removed.

From that day on, till his death on Sunday from another tumour, Capt Leong made it a point to live life to the fullest with his family - especially daughters Natacia, six, Abby, three, and son Jordan, 15 months. He was 35.

Mrs Leong, a teacher, said all was well after the first tumour was removed - until another mass was discovered in June last year.

He stopped working and underwent another craniotomy. The mass was said to be scarring and not a tumour, but the pilot told his wife he felt something was amiss.

A few months later, an MRI scan revealed that the mass had doubled in size and was a tumour. Aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy was used this time round to treat it.

On Dec 28 last year, Capt Leong called his wife while she was at work to say the left side of his body felt heavy and paralysed.

Mrs Leong said he went for occupational therapy while doing chemotherapy, and was so weak that a brush from one of the kids would feel like a great push.

"His senses went haywire," she said.

Persevered

Yet he persevered.

Inspired by a colleague who had started taking music lessons with his kid, Capt Leong enrolled Natacia in violin lessons and walked her into her first class while on crutches.

He took her to class for a few months even though his motor skills weren't good, recalled Mrs Leong.

"I scolded him for bad note-taking. I said it was so messy! Then I started taking her to class instead."

Even so, Capt Leong requested a violin for his birthday this year. He learnt to play and accompanied Natacia on it, she said.

"He tried every day. His left arm would start to droop after a few bars, but he would prop his elbow up."

Father and daughter managed to learn one song together - Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with variations.

Memories we shared

Wednesday evening, items he and his family shared were placed around the coffin - a basketball the family played with, a Nerf toy gun which he chased his children with and five drawings from Natacia, including a family portrait and a letter taking stock of the things she thought "Papa" would miss.

Capt Leong was dressed in his flight suit as Mrs Leong said she knew he missed flying. He had signed up with the Republic of Singapore Air Force as an Air Defence Specialist when he was about 18 and went on to become a pilot.

She recalled his aerial refuelling squadron's motto - 'Nobody kicks ass without a tanker's gas' - printed on a T-shirt, which she said she's keeping to remember him by.

A 48-year-old colleague, who declined to be named, said flying was Capt Leong's passion, and that he was a good friend, colleague and comrade.

Hard fact that he's gone

Facing the fact that he's gone

Yesterday, the air at the void deck of their Punggol flat, where the funeral was held, was punctuated with the roar of planes overhead from nearby Paya Lebar Air Base.

Her husband used to tell the children the type of plane just by the sound, Mrs Leong said.

Natacia said of her late father: "I love Papa because he's handsome and hardworking." According to her mother, she was hit hard by the fact that he was gone.

Mrs Leong said she did not speak of death with her husband save once, two weeks ago. But she had asked him what he wanted his children to be.

"For Natacia, it was a doctor. For Abby, to just be herself. For Jordan, it was to be an officer, to have leadership qualities.

"'But don't worry, I'll teach him,'" she recalled him saying.

She added she told him that if he had to go, he could go. But he had to promise that he would visit them in their dreams.

"'I leave niche areas (of instruction) to you,' I said. When I wake up and they suddenly are aware of things, I know he will have taught them."

His memorial service was held on Wednesday and he was cremated yesterday.

What are the signs of a brain tumour?

What are the signs of a brain tumour?

Symptoms of a brain tumour include chronic headaches, seizures and neurologic symptoms such as weakness in an arm or leg.

This depends on which portion of the brain is affected, said Dr Ang Peng Tiam, medical director of Parkway Cancer Centre.

It commonly strikes people between the ages of 20 and 50, he said.

Dr Ang added that fast-growing types like glioblastoma could kill within months of diagnosis.

Other types like meningioma can grow over many years.

Treatment can involve surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or a combination of these treatments, said DrHsieh Wen-Son, a consultant medical oncologist with Singapore Oncology Consultants at the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre and Mount Alvernia Hospital.

wrennie@sph.com.sg


Get The New Paper for more stories.

Purchase this article for republication.

VIDEOS YOU SHOULD WATCH

  • #Joeyjios: We try bubble tea mala hotpot and bubble tea toast

    Full story: http://www.asiaone.com/food/we-try-bubble-tea-mala-hotpot-and-bubble-tea-toast-guess-which-ones-got-us-hooked Mala and bubble milk tea within the same hotpot? What about bubble tea on toast? Who even comes up with these ideas?! This week on #Joeyjios, we give these dubious food creations a taste-test to see if they're worth your time, money and calories. #bubbletea #bbt #boba --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Thirstdays: Where we talk weird dates and wild fantasies

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/entertainment/thirstdays-where-we-talk-weird-dates-and-wild-fantasies Ooo, it's been a hot week and the thirst is real at AsiaOne. Join Le En and Bryan as they chat about weird dates, constant 'cravings', and Beyonce's thigh gap! And they are quenching that thirst with a cup of root beer float to celebrate the return of a certain fast food restaurant. Thirstdays is a fortnightly AsiaOne #entertainment series where our hosts Le En and Bryan give you a peek into their personal lives while they satisfy their thirst over a drink, have a no-holds-barred chat, and do fun things. #gossip #confessions #realness --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Don't Say Cannot Ep4: He beats people up, but for the country

    Full story: http://www.asiaone.com/singapore/dont-say-cannot-delinquent-national-wrestler He used to beat people up, simply because he had "too much energy" to expend. Now, he still beats people up - but for the country. Meet 24-year-old #Singapore national wrestler Toh Xin Ran. Seeing the number of medals that he has been awarded and the respectful manner in which he now interacts with his wrestling coach, it is hard to imagine that Xin Ran used to be a troubled kid in his younger days. #wrestling #sportsman --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: Taste-testing The Alley Luxe and CHICHA San Chen

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/food/alley-luxe-and-chicha-san-chen-opens-week-heres-what-try A Michelin-standard bubble tea for $4.70? A drink that looks like the Northern Lights? This week, #Joeyjios her colleague Le En to check out two new bubble tea (BBT) stores that are opening along Orchard Road. Which will they prefer? Watch to find out. #Thedeerishere #TheAlley #Chichasanchen #Boba --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Office Tea Episode 5: Bosses and Things

    It’s been a few weeks - let’s find out if the higher-ups of AsiaOne have any regrets about hiring Le En. Efforts were made to make nice, charity is involved and work is never-ending still. Follow and subscribe so you won't miss a single episode of our new series, Office Tea! To catch more of her antics, follow her @goofy_feline! --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: DIY your way into mum's heart this Mother's Day

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/women/joeyjios-diy-your-way-mums-heart-mothers-day Mother’s Day is this Sunday! Have you gotten mum a gift yet? This week on #Joeyjios, Joey tries her hand at DIY projects that’s thoughtful, useful and inexpensive. #Mothersday #DIY --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Don't Say Cannot Ep3: He 'sees' the world with the help of tech

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/dont-say-cannot-he-may-be-blind-he-can-text-faster-you Edwin Khoo, 43, surprises friends with the speed at which he types on his phone. The reason? He's been blind since birth. But #technology has been the game-changer for Edwin in navigating the world around him despite his #disability, allowing him to #travel and even host his own online #podcast. --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Office Tea Episode 4: The Dress Code

    It’s in the employee handbook - but does ANYONE actually read and follow the dress code? Are calves too scandalous? Le En puts on Athleisure and tries to get away with it! Follow and subscribe so you won't miss a single episode of our new series, Office Tea! To catch more of her antics, follow her @goofy_feline! --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • Caryn Cheng finds the best deals at IMM's Greater Savings Home and Furnishing Sale

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/5-couples-share-most-expensive-items-they-have-ever-bought-their-home AsiaOne challenges Caryn Cheng to find the best deals at the upcoming #IMM Greater Savings Home and Furnishing #Sale. IMM's Greater Savings Home & Furnishing Sale will start May 13 to 19. With 20 per cent off storewide at Best Denki and discounts of up to 50 per cent at stores such as INKAGU Outlet by Picket & Rail, Linen Gallery Outlet and Red Apple from May 17 to 19, this epic sale is not to be missed. Address: 2 Jurong East Street 21, Singapore 609601 Opening hours: 10am to 10pm #brandedcontent --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com
  • #Joeyjios: I try a ballet-inspired workout despite my two left feet

    Full story: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/joeyjios-i-try-ballet-inspired-workout-despite-my-two-left-feet Tendu, Arabesque and Grand Pliés? This week on #Joeyjios, I found out that these are in fact, not edible food dishes, but dance moves in ballet.  Watch as former professional ballerinas and co-founders of #BalletBody, Lisha Chin and Alison Carroll, take me through a snippet of their hour-long ballet-inspired workout while I try my best to keep up.  #Ballet #Barre #Fitness --- Read more: http://www.asiaone.com/ FOLLOW us on - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asiaonecom - Twitter: https://twitter.com/asiaonecom - Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asiaonecom/ EMAIL: For story leads, business enquiries, contact asiaone@mm2entertainment.com

SERVICES