Mr Tan Kia Poh, 94, was the stern patriarch of a large Chinese family and prided himself on being an independent man. He worked hard all his life, gained a measurable level of success and kept himself active even after his retirement. With his children grown and having children and grandchildren of their own, Mr Tan thought it was finally time to enjoy his old age in family bliss, but that was interrupted when his doctors informed him that he had liver cancer.
Despite undergoing various treatments prescribed by his doctors, the cancer spread to Mr Tan’s spine. For the first time, Mr Tan found himself unable to carry out simple daily activities on his own. When treatment did not work anymore, Mr Tan decided that he wanted to spend peaceful quality time with his family and to die comfortably. At his doctor’s suggestion, Mr Tan was admitted to Dover Park Hospice (DPH).
The DPH multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other allied health workers helped to keep Mr Tan’s pain and symptoms under control, and through advance care planning managed to discover and understand his as well as his family’s concerns.
Knowing that one of Mr Tan’s final wishes was to have a complete family photograph, the DPH team together with Mr Tan’s family arranged for his children and grandchildren to return from other parts of the world. Even though he struggled physically, Mr Tan was able to attend his wife’s birthday celebration in a restaurant in town dressed in his finest suit, and also managed to take a complete family photograph during his last days at DPH.
As the usually stoic old man fiercely hugged his eldest son whom he had not seen in 12 years with mixed emotions of love, sadness and joy, it made for the most touching scene that the DPH doctor in attendance would never forget.
With the DPH team working hand in hand with his family, Mr Tan managed to fulfill his last wishes, maintained his dignity till the very end and created precious memories that his family can hold dear even after he passed on.