I spoke for one hour to some students at the Multimedia University, Malacca campus last Saturday during a World Vision famine camp. Chaupei, the camp leader, invited me sometime in July and I agreed immediately.

Group photo with famine campers after the speech

I’ve been wanting to speak and raise awareness outside of the Klang Valley for the longest time.

Soon after I agreed to this speaking engagement, the date of my surgery was set for 3rd August, three weeks before the 21st – 22nd August Famine Camp. So I told Chaupei that I was unsure whether I will be able to come back in time for the talk and even so, I didn’t know if I will be well enough to travel.

Students seated and listening to my talk

As it turned out, I COULD return to Malaysia a week before the camp and was well enough to take the inter-state car ride to Malacca!

One of the committee members named Michelle picked me and my fundraising products up on Saturday afternoon. I stayed overnight in Chaupei’s hostel and returned to Selangor with the entire troop of campers on Sunday morning. They were headed for Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil to conclude the World Vision famine campaign while I was headed for home.

My talk this time was out of the norm. To make my talk relevant to the camp’s theme and objective, I spoke about how I had grown up in financial struggles and relationship problems after my father suffered the brain hemorrhage when I was three years old, and how this has unwittingly prepared me to face future challenges in battling a mutated gene.

I was jet-lagged by the time we reached Malacca so I spoke slower than usual, stammering and repeating my sentences often. Despite so, I believe that the message was delivered loud and clear. The students listened intently without moving. One of them even cried. The committee had to let me know that time was running out so I summarized some parts and quickly moved to the ending where I informed the students of my participation in the NF2 clinical research set to begin in October. I also told them about Pei Lee’s case, her family history of NF2 and her predicaments.

Students lining up for an autograph

After the talk, the students bought my memoir and formed a long queue for an autograph.

We raised RM1,080 that day.

I am deeply encouraged. I don’t usually sound so sad in my speeches but try to be as optimistic and encouraging as possible. I didn’t want sympathy. But as I have discovered now, sharing my childhood and family struggles does not make me sound self-pitying at all.

Photo with a few students

I’m considering about expanding the contents of this speech into a book.

A big thank you to the participants of this event for the encouragement and support.

Categories: Projects

Yvonne Foong

As a child, Yvonne Foong dreamed of growing up to help others. To achieve her ambition, she began studying to become a psychologist. But things changed when tumours were discovered in her body at the age of sixteen. She was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 -- a genetic illness with no cure. Fighting for survival, Yvonne turned to fundraising and embarked on a medical odyssey to the United States. Her experiences since then have transformed her into a motivational speaker; inspiring hope, faith and strength. Yvonne is currently working to establish a humanitarian foundation that provides NF patients in Malaysia with financial and logistical support. Visit Works of Gratitude to learn more.

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