Hospital staff host engagement ceremony to fulfil terminal lung cancer patient's wish

PHOTO: Mount Elizabeth Hospital

SINGAPORE - He proposed to her last month while she was by his bed in the hospital ward, despite having breathing difficulties from his illness.

On Saturday (Dec 15), Mr Pang Ming Kwong, 58, who has terminal lung cancer, exchanged engagement rings with his fiancee, Ms Koh Soh Kuan, 49.

They did so at Mount Elizabeth Hospital's Endoscopy Centre, with 50 of their family members and friends witnessing the engagement ceremony officiated by a pastor.

Mr Pang has been warded at Mount Elizabeth Hospital since Nov 9. He had told the ward nurses when he was receiving treatment at the hospital that he wished to propose to Ms Koh, an executive at a reinsurance company.

Ms Koh told The Sunday Times she did not know he intended to propose last month.

Mr Pang, who runs an online business, had told her only to keep Nov 17 free as he wanted her to attend a cancer group meeting with him.

He proposed that day when she visited him at his hospital ward.

The couple have been together for more than eight years, since they first met at a tea appreciation event.

Ms Koh said: "We have been meeting almost every weekend. He calls me almost every day and tells me about his work. We have both been busy working, but he always says he treasures every moment that we spend together."

Two years ago, the couple found out that Mr Pang had stage four lung cancer.

The diagnosis, however, did not affect their spirits as they continued to meet for lunch whenever they could.

Mr Pang was optimistic and tried his best to cope with the side effects from chemotherapy by asking his friends for advice, she said.

Saturday's engagement ceremony was a surprise for her when she learnt about it a few days earlier, as Mr Pang was often drowsy from his medication and she was not sure what he had in store for her.

The hospital's staff put everything together, said Ms Koh, adding that she was very thankful to them and was very touched by Mr Pang's gesture.

"He always asked, 'What date is it'? How many more days to the 15th?" she said.

The Endoscopy Centre was decorated by hospital staff for the engagement ceremony.

Photo: Mount Elizabeth Hospital

The nurses from Mr Pang's ward sang songs for the couple and presented them with flowers and balloons.

Some of them also helped Ms Koh with her make-up, while the hospital's chef prepared a cake for the couple.

Senior nurse manager Yong Wee Joan said: "Mr Pang is a kind and grateful person, and all our nurses love him so much.

"We were so excited when we first learned that Mr Pang wanted to hold an engagement in our hospital, and the Ward Eight team wanted to make this event special for him."

Added senior nurse Melane Glenda Maranon: "It is a great privilege to fulfil a patient's wish and make him feel really loved by healthcare providers."

While Ms Koh does not know how much more time her fiance has, her priority is to spend time with him.

"It's all I can do, to spend time with him and make it feel that it's not that bad," she said.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.