Singapore magician cheats death - twice
Magician escapes car accident with minor injuries and gets good prognosis after brain tumour surgery
Magician Jeremy Pei has escaped the clutches of the grim reaper not once but twice and it is no illusion.
The first time was in June 30, 2012. Mr Pei was in his parked car when a truck slammed into it from behind. His car was damaged, but he was intact.
The second time was a few months later, when he discovered he had a brain tumour.
Mr Pei, 32, who started doing magic shows when he was 13, said the experiences changed his way of thinking.
He said: "It used to be that magic was the No. 1 thing in my life, with my family maybe in third, but now, family is No. 1."
The car accident occurred when Mr Pei was on his way to a show near the industrial area at Tuas in the morning.
He told The New Paper: "I parked by the side of the road to check where I needed to go on Google Maps."
He was sitting in his car one moment and the next thing he knew, he was on his way to National University Hospital (NUH) in an ambulance.
Mr Pei's mother, Madam Wong Siew Soon, 64, told The New Paper in Mandarin: "I was hoping that nothing happened to him, I didn't want to think about what the worst outcome was."
Mr Pei said that he heard later that a truck had hit his car from behind and he had blacked out.
CRASH: Mr Jeremy Pei had stopped his car when it was hit from behind by a truck. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEREMY PEI
He said: "I didn't feel being hit... and then when I opened my eyes, there were people all around my car and they were asking 'Are you okay? Are you okay?'."
The magician added that he was lucky that his seat belt was strapped on, although he found it curious that he was did not have any broken bones or serious bleeding because all of his props in the car were damaged.
He told TNP: "It was almost as if a fairy came down to save me and kept me in one piece."
But although he did not sustain any external injuries from the crash, the ordeal was not yet over.
Mr Pei was warded at NUH for 14 days as his brain was hurt from the impact of the crash and he experienced difficulties walking and speaking.
He said, "I couldn't move properly. I couldn't walk fast or speak fast; I couldn't even make a Milo."
After some physiotherapy, Mr Pei regained most of his abilities two months after the accident and he travelled and performed magic shows on a regular basis.
In 2013, a few months after the car accident, Mr Pei went to have a check-up on his brain at NUH. It was then the doctors told him that he could have a low-grade glioma, a type of brain tumour, and immediately wanted to arrange a biopsy.
But Mr Pei instead decided to continue with his original plans to go to Europe with his wife for their honeymoon.
When they returned in March 2013, Mr Pei visited six other specialists in Singapore. Every one of them said that he had a brain tumour.
RECOVERY: Mr Jeremy Pei after his biopsy, with his friend and life mentor, Mr Steven Lim. The two met at a local magic club when Mr Pei was a youth. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEREMY PEI
During the period, Mr Pei said he felt depressed as he did not want to become a burden to his family and his new wife.
He said: "Actually, we planned to have kids, but I don't know whether it's nice to have a kid and then the kid would have to send the dad away at four or five."
Mr Pei said his father had been a stroke patient for seven years until his death in 2011 and the disease had affected his family.
He said he did not want his mother to go through the same scenario with him.
Madam Wong said: "He never wanted to affect the family. Even when he is suffering or in pain, he would always be smiling or he wouldn't coop himself up at home."
Knowing that his life would never be the same after the biopsy, Mr Pei told the doctors to delay it and he spent his days doing things he enjoyed.
Then, his condition got worse at the end of July 2014, when he started having seizures.
Mr Pei said: "I could not talk... and when I came home, every night before I slept, I would have a seizure attack."
His worst experience came in Shanghai, when he had seven seizure attacks in one day.
And when he had his next check-up in January 2015, Mr Pei was not surprised to hear that the tumour had doubled in size.
The doctors insisted he do a biopsy.
The biopsy was done in February 2015, followed by a surgery in October, which removed most of his tumour.
However, the doctors could not remove all of the tumour growth as he had delayed the surgery.
Despite that, Mr Pei is remaining positive. He said it could have been much worse as the doctors said he could have lost the use of his right arm and leg and his speech if there were any complications during the surgery.
And in July this year, he received a piece of good news. He said: "At the check-up, the doctors said 'Congrats, you can see your children get married,' and it made me so happy."
Since his operation, Mr Pei has not had a seizure attack. He considers himself semi-retired as he concentrates on and spends time with his family.
"I want people to know how to appreciate life, especially the people around you - the family. Now, I really appreciate my family," he said.
I want people to know how to appreciate life, especially the people around you - the family. Now I really appreciate my family.
- Mr Jeremy Pei on life after undergoing his brain tumour surgery
DIAGNOSED: In July 2010, Jeremy won both the Finalist Awards in Close up and Stage Magic Competition at the International Brotherhood of Magicians Annual Convention in San Diego.
ABOUT BRAIN TUMOURS
There are two types of tumours, malignant tumours and benign tumours, said Dr David Low, 43, a consultant at the Department of Neurosurgery for the National Neuroscience Institute.
Benign brain tumours are slow-growing tumours and they do not spread and destroy cells.
Malignant brain tumours grow rapidly and they spread into the surrounding brain.
When asked about Mr Pei's condition, Dr Low said: "Glioma is a type of brain tumour. It arises from the glial cells of the brain."
Dr Low, who is also the head of Neurosurgery Service at KK women's and Children's Hospital, said that most brain tumours will just keep growing and will cause a coma, then death from pressure on the brain.
He added: "If the tumour is close to the area of the brain that supports vision, the patient will lose vision first and if it's close to the area that supports speech, the patient wouldn't be able to speak properly."
Dr Low said that after an operation, if the tumour does not grow back within five years, the patient is considered cured.
The cause of brain tumours are largely unknown although Dr Low said that certain genes predispose patients to having brain tumours.
He said: "Our statistics are not very updated because brain tumours are not one of the top 10 cancers in Singapore.
"Brain tumours comprises just 1 to 2 per cent of cancers in Singapore."