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Art transforms into compassion

Everyday hero abandons website
Wed, Dec 31, 2008
Everyday hero abandons website


ANGUISH and disappointment.

These words best describe the feelings of Miss Lee Soh Hong, a Reader's Digest Everyday Hero in 2002 and founder of well-known website Cancerstory.com. Miss Lee's father died in October after contracting six different antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, during his hospital stay. He had gone in complaining of a slight fever and abdominal pain.

Miss Lee, 46, was devastated by his sudden death: "I cry occasionally. It pains me to think about it. I lost a lot of weight as well - about 10kg."

She is now so drained that she will abandon her website - started after her mother died of colon cancer nine years ago - and end her role as a volunteer and advocate of patients' rights after the launch of a book on Jan 9. The website will be left dormant.

The eight-year-old site had served as a guide to caregivers and patients, empowering them and giving tips on how to cope with cancer. It also had motivational survival stories.

"I know my limitations, and I don't have the strength and willpower to carry on with this project," she said tiredly.

Still, she is going out with one last hurrah. Her book, What Killed My Dad? Reflections On How To Make Your Hospital Stay Safer, speaks of her father's experience and suggests ways to improve hospital care. "There are many things that can be changed to improve patient safety," she said.

She will print 100 copies of her book. A free electronic version will be posted on the website. Interested parties can buy a hard copy of it for $18.

Supporters have urged her to change her mind and continue the website - without success. Miss Lee's mentor, Mr David Row, is one of them.

The 75-year-old retired school teacher has been a hospice volunteer for 22 years, and advises her on matters concerning terminal illnesses. He said: "It's a natural reaction in her current emotional state to want to give up, but I told her to hold on. A lot of people go to her website for help."

But she is unmoved. "I have to be fair to myself. When it's time for you to let go, you should let go. I have no regrets because I've given back to society," she said.

Asked about her aunt's decision, co-founder of the website Amelia Kang, 32, said: "I fully support my aunt. We feel we have contributed what we can."

However, Miss Lee does not rule out the possibility of returning. "The day I feel that I have something to offer, I might come back," she said.

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