S’pore Father With Stage 4 Cancer Outlives Doctor’s Diagnosis By 2 Years, Stays Positive Amid Battle

58-Year-Old Father With Stage 4 Lung Cancer Outlives Doctor’s Diagnosis

When one comes face to face with late-stage critical illness, it’s difficult to imagine their chances of outliving their now shorter life expectancy. But a man is doing his best to live life with no regrets.

Meet Choong Wee Meng, 58, a former taxi driver who was the sole breadwinner for his family of four. He has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

After being told he could only live for up to a year, he quit his job, went for treatments, and did his best to prepare his family for the worst.

Amazingly, it is perhaps Mr Choong’s undying positivity that helped him beat the odds, as that was all in 2020. We met him recently to find out how he has been doing after outliving his doctor’s diagnosis by two years.

father outlives cancer diagnosis

He may have resigned to his fate, but he maintains a positive outlook on life. Having more time in this world also means that he can continue to make the necessary arrangements for his family to cope well when he is no longer around.

Mr Choong was a taxi driver who had to pivot due to Covid-19

Mr Choong is married to Wong, a stay-at-home mum, and they have two children together.

Their eldest son Isaac is in his final year in Polytechnic and works part-time while their younger boy Ian is in Secondary Three.

father outlives cancer diagnosis

Mr Choong with his wife and younger son Ian

As a cabbie, Mr Choong would bring tourists and locals alike to attractions all over the country — but he never found time to visit those places with the people he loves.

When Covid-19 hit Singapore in 2020, his taxi company had to pivot, and he was redirected to become a temporary delivery driver.

Shortly after that, things took a turn for the worse.

Diagnosed with terminal lung cancer after routine check-up

Come July of that year, Mr Choong went for a routine check-up at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) as he had a pre-existing liver condition.

Doctors detected an anomaly in his blood work. Suspecting that it was a viral infection, they recommended more tests.

Unfortunately, grave news awaited Mr Choong following a biopsy — the then-55-year-old had stage four lung cancer.

This revelation shocked him, especially since his check-up the year before returned with a mostly clean bill of health.

“I was shocked, you know!” he expressed. “Everything was still fine last year. Now, suddenly, they told me I have stage four cancer.”

According to Healthline, stage four cancer means that the cancer has already spread to different areas of the body.

Unable to continue working due to tumour

Scans determined that Mr Choong had a 6.7cm-long tumour growing in his lungs.

As the tumour was on a vital artery next to his heart, surgery was not feasible, and he could only opt for chemotherapy.

However, as it was terminal, he was given about six months to a year left to live.

Even though Mr Choong used to drink and smoke, doctors did not think his lifestyle choices led to the tumour.

It apparently might have been due to stress, especially during the pandemic, but to this day, he still does not know what exactly caused it.

father outlives cancer diagnosis

Due to his condition, Mr Choong is unable to continue working.

On top of paying for his treatments, his family has also been living on his savings.

“When I was still a taxi driver, I gave my wife almost all my cash earnings,” he explained.

“I just kept S$50 on me to pump petrol and get other necessities when I’m on the road. We also have some savings in my CPF, so we are now living on that after my diagnosis.”

Did not want diagnosis to affect sons’ studies

During one of Mr Choong’s treatment sessions, a doctor referred him to Ambulance Wish Singapore (AWS), a non-profit that grants wishes to terminally ill people.

As he had about a year left to live, the doctor wanted to know if Mr Choong had any wishes he wanted to fulfil before he departed.

Mr Choong told the doctor that he did not want his family to know about his condition, especially his sons.

At that time, Isaac was taking his GCE ‘O’ Levels while Ian was taking his Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

While Mr Choong eventually did break the news to them, he did not want to distract them from their studies.

Hence, he only informed them of his diagnosis after they were finished with their exams.

“I just asked the doctors to keep me alive until December because my sons were having their exams and needed to focus,” he said.

Wanted to bring family to attractions he used to drive people to

Mr Choong’s next wish was to take his family to the various places he used to ferry passengers to.

This was where AWS stepped in to render its assistance in late 2020.

One of its volunteers, 40-year-old Willy Zhang, met Mr Choong when he was out of the hospital to learn more about his wish.

father outlives cancer diagnosis

Mr Choong recounted, “I was thinking of what to wish for even before I met them.”

“I’ve driven so many people to Gardens by the Bay and MBS, but I’ve never stepped foot inside. So I thought I would take this chance to go with my family.”

“Once I told [AWS], they never questioned anything. They just said they would arrange it. I think they are really angels that God sent to help me,” he added.

The volunteers even offered to get an outpatient nurse to look after Mr Choong during their outings.

However, he declined, saying, “I told them no need lah, I can still walk.”

Suffered pain during first outing to SEA Aquarium

The first outing was to the SEA Aquarium.

At this point, it was the school holidays, and Mr Choong had already told his family about his diagnosis.

There, the staff treated the family to an engaging and comprehensive tour of the place that they enjoyed very much.

taxi driver

Halfway through the tour, however, Mr Choong had to take a break as he felt a sharp acute pain.

As he was feeling faint, his wife got him some hot Milo while he rested.

Thankfully, he felt better soon after, and the staff at the SEA Aquarium were able to expedite the rest of the tour.

“The pain happened only that one time. Up to today, I have never felt that pain since.”

Then, Mr Choong and his family took the cable car to Mount Faber for lunch.

“My younger son liked the food very much and asked if we could come again. So I agreed, provided I am still doing okay. But we have yet to go back,” he laughed.

A memorable staycation at MBS

Their next outing was his long-awaited, fully sponsored staycation at an MBS suite and a visit to Gardens by the Bay.

Source: Ambulance Wish Singapore on Facebook

“When we arrived at the room, alamak, we were treated like VIPs!” Mr Choong chuckled.

“There were staff members waiting to greet us in the huge suite,” he continued. “It was my first time staying in such a luxurious place! Ian was so happy he was running all over.”

Source: Ambulance Wish Singapore on Facebook

Before the pandemic, Mr Choong had promised his wife that one day, he would take her out for a meal at the MBS rooftop.

And thanks to AWS and MBS, he could finally make good on his promise.

“Ambulance Wish Singapore took care of everything and arranged for us to go to the rooftop. I feel so happy about it, and they’re so helpful. Until today we keep in touch,” he smiled.

The volunteers are angels. People like Willy and the others sacrifice their time just to fulfil our dreams. I really just want to say thank you to them.

Outlives cancer diagnosis by 2 years

It’s been three years since Mr Choong got his fatal diagnosis and was told he had a year left to live.

Miraculously, he is doing just fine today. He rates his pain currently at a six out of 10 and is still taking medication and undergoing treatment.

His tumour is also at a stable 2.9cm.

Mr Choong shared that in January 2022, doctors found a 2cm tumour on his liver during one of his CT scans.

This was a new one, which did not stem from his lung tumour.

“To me, the new tumour was nothing because, at that point, I had already surrendered myself to God. If it’s time, it’s time,” he mused.

Fortunately, doctors were able to surgically remove the tumour in his liver.

That said, he still has to live with his lung cancer and the side effects of his medication.

Wants to visit more places but is ready if the time comes

Even though the visits and staycation are now firmly etched into the minds of Mr Choong and his family, he recently added another item to his bucket list — to check out the newly opened Bird Paradise.

“I saw the recent news surrounding Bird Paradise,” he said. “Even though the incidents are quite unfortunate, I still hope to go one day because the pictures of the place look very beautiful. I want to see it for myself.”

When the inevitable happens, Mr Choong says that he hopes his family will be able to cope with his absence.

He thinks they are now used to his condition and wants to leave the rest to fate.

“I have arranged everything and done what I can do,” he shared. “I have a fixed deposit savings account where I have some money for my family to tap on when it’s time. Otherwise, I don’t want to complain about what I cannot change.”

When the time comes, I am ready, always. No regrets. I always tell others who are ill to not keep thinking about their sickness and to always think positive — that’s what I do.

MS News commends Mr Choong for his extraordinary strength and wishes him, as well as all fathers and father figures out there, a very Happy Father’s Day.

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at news@mustsharenews.com.

Featured image by MS News and adapted from Ambulance Wish Singapore on Facebook. Photography by Iskandar Rossali.

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