Dealing with cancer: A Chinese son’s story

Dealing with cancer is one of the toughest fights some will face. There are some really good support groups in the Chinese community supporting people and their families who have cancer, but there are not enough of these organisations and many are not aware of them.

To raise more awareness of dealing with cancer in the Chinese community, Nee Hao spoke to Andy Lee, a British Chinese man from Manchester, who shares with us his experience in dealing with his father having lung cancer.

By Andy Lee 

Mixed in with the joy and celebration of life, are the tough times. There’s no denying them. Big or small, life has its complications. I’ve had my fair share. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002. It was Stage 4 and he was given 6 months to live. I was 20. My youngest sister was 8. It rocked our world. You can never prepare for something like that, and there is no right way of dealing with it. If life was a game, then this was a game changer. Through God’s grace he lived for another 4 years. And he didn’t take one day for granted.

I remember the tension within the family – What is the end goal in a situation like that? Would it be to live longer, or to live fuller? It’s an incredibly difficult and delicate line to walk. All those around him encouraged and at time demanded that he not eat that, eat this, get more rest, don’t stay out, travel less, sleep more. But when my dad knew what he wanted to do, he would go for it. So those 4 years were spent living in love. He righted wrongs, mended broken relationships, cheered up those around him, put others first, played football, went to Church. In summary – He left his mark on his world. Although he is no longer around, he still teaches me and influences me. He lived enough of an life to teach me how to live. What more can a son ask for?

In memory of Jason Nin-Fu Lee - Andy Lee with his dad and sister.
In memory of Jason Nin-Fu Lee – Andy Lee with his dad and sister.

I’ve decided to share my dad’s eulogy with you, unedited and word for word as I read it in June 2006. Why am I sharing this? To encourage you. Goods things can come out of the bad. I said before, there is no right way of dealing with life’s curveballs, and cancer is a massive curveball, but we would do well to live through these times believing in something bigger than ourselves. Thank you dad.

On behalf of the Lee family, I wish to thank you all for coming today. Most of you have had to take a day off work to attend, maybe even closing your own business for the day. Some of you have come from far away, even from overseas, and that is testimony to the impact that my father Jason had on your life, thank you so much for coming.

At 48, some might say that my dad died before his time. There is a time for everything, and death is no exception. Death naturally follows life, and even though he was walking through the dark valley of death, he carried within him an unwavering ‘stubborn joy’, always having hope, faith, perseverance and the commitment to keep on going, even when the faith of others around him began to falter. And when they did falter, he would be the one to tell them that it’s going to be ok. Did my dad ever get scared? yes. Did he ever worry over leaving his wife and his children by themselves? Sure he did. Did the pain he was suffering get so bad that it became at times unbearable? Yes definitely. But he kept on fighting, he kept on going, and he kept on smiling, he had a ‘stubborn joy’ that just stuck with him.

I can proudly say of my dad that:

He fought the good fight, he finished the race, and he has kept the faith.

My dad didn’t just fight any fight, anyone can fight any fight, my dad fought the good fight. He didn’t just run any race, he ran the one that mattered, the one that made a difference. And he didn’t just keep any faith, he kept the one faith that would lead him home to his maker.

The cancer that my dad was diagnosed with in February 2002 didn’t only take away my dad’s life, it also gave my dad the opportunity to live a fuller live. Through the suffering of the body he began to see the truly important parts of life, and that is why so many of you are here today to pay your respects to a wonderful and loving father, husband, brother, uncle and friend.

You are here because at some point in your life he gave himself to you in so many ways, touching your life in a way that only he could do; making you laugh, putting a smile on your face, offering encouragement in a time of struggle and uncertainty, working together for a better cause, or maybe even challenging you to live a better life and become a better person, as he often did with me.

We know life is precious, but my dad really embodied the full meaning of that truth. Life is made up of many many precious moments, and he was everyday grateful for the opportunity to wake up and to see another day, to be able to have a meal and drink my mum’s Chinese soup, to have had a good night’s rest the night before, to be able to get out of the house for a game of table tennis, badminton or snooker with his friends. Through the way he lived, I have learnt that if you have the chance, it is better that you say what you need to say, and do what you need to do, before it’s too late. Above all, be thankful for what you have right now.

As a husband and father he is much loved as the protector and provider of the family, as a friend he is loved for his loyalty and his selfless acts of service, always there for a friend in need. As a Christian he served with a pure heart, eager to tell others about the Jesus that he himself knew so well. He was a man of integrity living out his values with strong conviction, yet also of humility, always looking to see how he could serve those around him.

If there was one thing that I believe my dad would like me to say to everyone here today, it would be “Thank you all very much, you all have a very big heart for coming today and he very much appreciates and loved each of you. He would also very much like to see you again…. Just believe… believe in Jesus”

We thank you for all your love and support. We are very grateful to have such a large circle of family and friends such as yourselves to offer your love during this time of mourning.

We will all miss him for the difference he made in our lives, he shall live on in our memories, and he shall live on as the way that he chose to live his life, continues to shape the way we choose to live our own. May God bless you and guide you through your life the same way He did for Jason.

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Cancer support groups for the Chinese community in the UK

Chinese Cancer
Click on image for their Facebook page

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Chinese Cancer Support

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