Singapore

Hospice helps patients and their families create lasting memories

For the first time since he was diagnosed with a terminal illness seven months ago, Mr Esmond Goh had fun with his family.

On Saturday (June 17), the family of four watched a dance performance, ate popcorn and had a family portrait shot by a professional photographer at a fair organised by home hospice provider HCA Hospice Care.

It was held at HCA’s headquarters in Novena.“It’s quite a special occasion for us, that we get to celebrate an early Father’s Day,” said Mr Goh, 50, a former taxi driver who has two daughters, Lucia, 6 and Lois, 12. Father’s Day falls on June 18 this year (2017).

Clutching the framed portrait of his family, Mr Goh, who is wheelchair-bound, said his illness made it difficult for him to travels out of his home. He has stage 4 lung cancer.

His wife, Madam Joanne Lio, a 49-year-old homemaker, added: “We don’t have a lot of family photos. The last one was taken three years ago at my younger daughter’s birthday party.”

More than 20 terminally-ill patients and their families took part in the fair, aimed at helping them make the most of the time they have left together.

 

Over 70 volunteers doubled up as drivers, chaperones, balloon sculptors, make-up artists and clowns to share some cheer with the patients and their caregivers.

The highlight of the fair involved volunteers giving participants a makeover before a professional photographer – also a volunteer – took pictures of them.

HCA’s chief executive Angeline Wee said the organisation does not just provide end-of-life care for patients, but aims to take care of their families and caregivers as well through such events. This is its third fair in two years.

“We feel it’s very important to help them take a family portrait... as most of them do not know whether it’ll be the last family photo,” she said.

She added that individual shots are also taken of the patient for use for their obituary if needed.

A patient who goes under the care of HCA is on his last legs and tends to live for three months, on average.

Ms Augustine Dhingahayoe, 38, who has stage 4 sarcoma, said the fair brought back memories of her former job as a wedding event planner where she would meet couples to discuss their wedding photography.

She added that it had been four years – prior to her diagnosis – since she had a proper photograph taken with her husband of 12 years, Mr Andreas Supriyatna, 44.“This event is very good. It makes me happy and makes me remember my past,” she said.

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