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Thursday, May 13, 2021

uni dream comes true for cancer student

uni dream comes true for cancer student

A Baptist University student who had blood cancer at the age of 16 has received a scholarship to pursue her dream of becoming a social worker.
Yuen Ka-mei, 24, is among 15 students who received a HK$50,000 For Our Future scholarship from the Greater Bay Area Homeland Youth Community Foundation this year.

Yuen, who is now a final year social work student at HKBU, was diagnosed with leukemia in form five.

She told The Standard that she started to have frequent nosebleeds and felt tired climbing the stairs.

"I was very frustrated, because I was young and had never thought this could happen to me," she said. "I thought this disease only appeared in films and TV shows."

Yuen then had to undergo a year and a half of operations and chemotherapy, which required her to cut her beloved long hair.

"When I entered the hospital ward, I saw everyone there was miserable and suffering from the illness," she recalled. "I started to wonder if I would become like that and whether I would be able to leave the hospital alive."

Yuen also said she was sensitive to steroids and suffered a lot while undergoing chemotherapy. "I could not sleep," she said. "I felt pain everywhere - from my head to my toes."

But she added that she stayed positive throughout the treatment with the support of her family and social workers. Although she suffered from avascular necrosis after the cancer treatment and could not walk for a long time, she decided to become a social worker and help others in need.

She also highlighted the importance of social workers during the economic downturn amid the pandemic, adding that she would like to focus on family service after graduation.

But Yuen was also affected by the pandemic, as social workers currently cannot visit residents at their homes and can only contact them over the phone or online.

"Although new technologies can help us get in touch with clients, face-to-face meetings are still the best mode of communication, because we can see people's facial expressions and better gauge how they're feeling," she said.

The scholarship could provide Yuen with financial help, as her father, who works in the catering industry, has seen his income reduced due to the pandemic, the Greater Bay Area Homeland Youth Community Foundation said.

The 15 awardees, selected from nearly 300 applications from 13 educational institutions, mainly come from ordinary families.

Many of the awardees' parents also work in sectors that have been affected by the pandemic, the foundation said.
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