Wed, May 07, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Filipina teen heads home grateful for doctors’ treatment

Staff writer, with CNA

A teenager from Manila who suffered from bone cancer yesterday became teary as she thanked Chang Gung Memorial Hospital doctors and the volunteers who brought her to Taiwan last year for treatment.

Mary Donita Uy, 18, who was raised in one of the Philippine capital’s slums, arrived in December last year, accompanied by her elder sister, to be treated under an assistance program run by the Chou Ta-kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation, a charitable organization established in New Taipei City in 1997 to commemorate Chou Ta-kuan (周大觀), who died of cancer at the age of nine.

Uy underwent surgery and chemotherapy at the hospital for stage 3 chrondrosarcoma, a rare cancer of the bones and joints.

TUMOR REMOVED

Liau Chi-ting (廖繼鼎), one of the doctors who treated Uy, said the medical team removed a 15cm bone tumor and a part of her right humerus — the bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow — and replaced it with a metal implant.

Liau, who specializes in hematology, oncology and internal medicine, said the doctors wanted to avoid amputating the teen’s right arm because the tumor had not damaged the nerves.

Uy’s cancer was diagnosed in 2012, and she underwent initial treatment in the Philippines, but her family could not afford the hefty medical bills.

COSTLY TREATMENT

The foundation learned of her case in February last year during a trip by volunteers to the Philippines and arranged for her to be treated in Taiwan, with the help of the hospital and the local chapter of the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Her treatment and travel costs — about NT$1.5 million (US$50,000) — have been paid by the hospital and the charities, foundation chief executive Liu Jui-yen said.

“I am really thankful [to] the doctors and the hospital because they [gave] me a second chance,” Uy said.

The teen said the most difficult part of her treatment was the chemotherapy.

“Sometimes it was so hard my body wanted to give up, but I overcame it,” she said, adding that painting, music and her sister had helped get her through the months of treatment.

Liu said Uy will have to undergo regular checkups in the Philippines for up to five years because this kind of cancer, if it reoccurs, usually does so within five years of surgery.

FOND MEMORIES

“We will always remember the love of Taiwan,” Uy said.

Uy and her sister are heading home today, but she plans to return sometime in the future.

“I love Taiwan and I am coming back,” she said.

“We were very glad to treat her,” Liau said. “I hope she will return to Taiwan as a healthy tourist.”

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