I was overwhelmed by a surge of emotions after reading today's Life section of the Straits Times, in which they featured the story of a girl who is physically wasting away due to cancer. I know she must be experiencing tremendous pain, both mentally and physically. The magnitude and intensity of her suffering is unimaginable, definitely not something that words alone can describe.

Empathy is but just one of the many emotions that hit me upon reading the article. What really saddened me was the fact that such a young and intelligent girl, brimming with energy and armed with such an amazing zest for life was on the brink of leaving this world, where boundless dreams and opportunities are still waiting to be fulfilled.

It is an understatement to say that her future is bright. And it hurts even more to know that she was a former Rafflesian. But I really admire her unyielding attitude towards cancer, her endless faith in God, and her thirst for life.

My dad is teaching a cancer patient now. Unlike the regular teen, this boy is passionate about studying, and is determined to sit for his O levels regardless of his current plight. He has been battling cancer for the past 2-3 years of his teenage life, but you can still sense the fire within him to break free from the clutches of sickness and repossess the life that cancer is threatening to take away from him. He is one who truly cherishes his existence, one who never once complained about having to study. Indeed, he relishes life and all it has to offer.

He kept a journal, which he loaned to my dad so that he can understand him on a deeper level. In it, he expressed how much he was looking forward to a new lease of life after cancer. Like Joan, he was also on the path to recovery, but his condition suddenly took a turn for the worse recently. Apparently, cancer cells have spread to his spine, and there's nothing else that the doctors can do to save him.

I can't help but draw comparisons between the two cases. I know that life is transient, but cancer always seems to strike those who have a relentless zeal for life and an incredulous capacity to excel, those who are still at the peak of their careers or in the prime of their lives. If such people don't deserve to live, I really don't know who does.


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