Making Peace with Cancer

Compiled by Shawn Chang (張牧軒)
                        Rosalind Chang (張薰云)


Making Peace with Cancer

Compiled by Shawn Chang (張牧軒)
                        Rosalind Chang (張薰云)


Tey Lai Ti (left) embraces Tzu Chi volunteer Lau Bok Lan (right) during Lau's visit. (Photo by Tan Ah Lek)

Tey Lai Ti (鄭來娣) from Malaysia used to live a contented life with her husband and daughter until 2003. In that year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer. Feeling devastated and helpless, she cried every day.

Following her diagnosis, Tey had to travel to Kuala Lumpur to undergo a month-long treatment. Since her husband couldn't accompany her, she was all alone. Fortunately, one of Tey's friends was a Tzu Chi volunteer, and he helped her get in touch with Tzu Chi. From then on, Tzu Chi volunteers visited her every day during her treatment and kept her company.

In 2006, Tey was diagnosed with liver cancer. As her treatment put a heavy financial burden on her family, Tzu Chi began to provide her with financial aid, and volunteers continued to visit her even after the aid had ended.

However, being diagnosed with liver cancer was the last straw that sent Tey into despair. Despite all the help and support she had received, her illnesses still took a toll on her mental health. She was filled with negative emotions and became very irritable, often snapping at others over trivial things. She sank into depression and frequently contemplated suicide.

Although Tzu Chi volunteers continued to visit Tey, she believed that none of them truly understood what she was going through, so no one could comfort her. In 2009, seeing no improvements in Tey's mental state, Tzu Chi volunteer Lau Bok Lan (劉木蘭) installed Da Ai TV in her home, hoping that it could help Tey overcome her emotional problems.

When Tey first watched the Da Ai drama series A Little Faith Goes a Long Way, she didn't believe that it was based on the true life story of Tzu Chi volunteer Lin Xiao-yan (林小燕), until one day, she saw Lin talking about her own life experience in a program on Da Ai TV. Tey was shocked to learn that although Lin had suffered more misfortune than she had, Lin still managed to live a fulfilling life. After that, Tey became a fan of Da Ai TV.

Moreover, Tey also began to read Jing Si Aphorisms. She was often surprised by how those aphorisms resonated with her, and she began to copy them out as a way to calm her mind. Watching Da Ai TV and reading Jing Si Aphorisms became a turning point for her. With their help, Tey began to let go of her worries and make peace with her illnesses. That was why when her cancer spread to her bones later on, she was able to face it calmly and peacefully.

Tzu Chi hospital volunteers visit Tey Lai Ti in her ward and give her support. (Photo by Yong Siew Lee)

As Tey was touched by Lin Xiao-yan's story, she had always wanted to meet her, but was unable to do so due to her conditions, so Tzu Chi volunteers arranged a video conference for her to meet and speak with Lin in person. Tey was overjoyed, and Lin encouraged Tey to use her own experience to help those who were suffering from illnesses. With Lin's encouragement, Tey became a hospital volunteer and eagerly shared her own story with hospital patients to help them stay positive and hopeful.

Unfortunately, in June 2015, Tey's health deteriorated and she was hospitalized in a hospice ward. On January 23, 2016, she passed away peacefully in her husband's arms. Prior to her passing, Tey had signed a body donation agreement to support medical advancement. Although Tey has passed away, she will always live on in the hearts of her loved ones and fellow Tzu Chi volunteers.

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