NTU Graduate Who Passed Away From Cancer Planned Funeral With 6 Months Left To Live
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of the article transliterated the deceased’s name inaccurately. We have since corrected the article to reflect his actual name as well as made some factual edits according to accounts from a family friend.
For many university graduates, the future is usually brimming with possibilities.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for one Singaporean man who found out he had cancer in his second year of studies.
While he was eventually able to finish his studies, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) graduate later found out his cancer was terminal, which led him to plan his own funeral.
He passed away on Tuesday (14 Mar), and his father has now spoken out about his courageous battle against cancer.
NTU graduate diagnosed with cancer after experiencing a toothache
28-year-old graduate Justin Leng Zhan Chun discovered he had cancer after consulting a dentist over a toothache in 2018.
Speaking to Lianhe Zaobao, Justin’s father Mr Leng said an X-ray then revealed a tumour below his son’s left jawbone.
The tumour turned out to be mandibular osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer also known as osteosarcoma of the jaw.
A family friend told MS News that Justin had dreams of going to Canada on a university exchange programme in 2018, but had to put the plans on hold to undergo treatment.
He thus promptly began chemotherapy that year and underwent two surgeries including one to remove his lower left jaw.
Treatment apparently lasted roughly a year, but throughout that time, he still kept fit by exercising and playing basketball in hopes of defeating the disease.
Upon entering remission in June 2019, Justin immediately resumed his plans and flew abroad to complete his exchange semester in Toronto, Canada.
He remained dedicated to his studies thereafter and managed to graduate with honours in 2021. He subsequently secured a job but was only able to work for four months before things took a turn.
Decided to plan own funeral after learning cancer was terminal
Justin’s battle with cancer resumed in June 2020 when an abnormality was found in his ear during a follow-up visit to the doctor.
It was then that doctors told him the cancer had spread.
In the following year, Justin underwent two more surgeries to remove the cancerous cells.
Regardless, his condition did not improve and he received the heart-sinking news in November 2022.
“At the time, doctors told us that the cancer had spread to his skull. They said that Justin would only have three to six months left to live.” Mr Leng said.
However, Justin took the news in his stride as he had already been forewarned of his shorter life expectancy.
Knowing that time was quickly running out on his cancer battle, the NTU graduate decided he would plan his own funeral, reported China Press.
Continued to care for his parents in his final months
Mr Leng shared that Justin planned out every aspect of his funeral, from the location to the decor to his attire.
Revealing that his son had initially wanted to hold it at a funeral parlour, Mr Leng said Justin then changed the location to the block they live in to accommodate relatives with young children, quoted China Press.
According to his elder sister Ms Kelly Leng, her brother remained dedicated to their parents right till the end.
Prior to his death, he worried most about his parents not being able to take care of themselves.
“He would say ‘How good it’d be if I had another year or two to live’, so he could properly care for our parents,” Ms Leng said.
In his final months, Justin reportedly even insisted on taking his mother to medical appointments for her joint pain, despite having limited mobility himself.
Final wish was to share his cancer journey to inspire others
China Press quoted Justin’s father who recalled that his son always had a tenacious spirit, both in life and his cancer journey.
His final wish was to share his cancer journey, in hopes of inspiring other cancer patients to keep on fighting.
As such, his father is now honouring him by telling his story.
Lianhe Zaobao wrote that Justin fell on 8 Mar. He was sent to the hospital, where it was found that the cancer cells in his brain had spread further. Doctors also declared that he had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage.
The 28-year-old breathed his last on Tuesday (14 Mar). His funeral was due to commence today (18 Mar) at 10am.
MS News extends our deepest condolences to Justin’s loved ones for the devastating loss. May he rest in peace.
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Featured image adapted from China Press.
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