My name is Yvonne Foong, or Ming Niang – as FAB’s staff used to call me. I am a 30-year old Malaysian author with a genetic condition that makes tumours grow anywhere in my body throughout life. In order to continue living, I started a project to fund my own life saving surgeries at the tender age of 19, to pay for my much needed lifesaving surgeries halfway across the world, in the United States.
I used to dance ballet as a child for 7 formative years before my diagnosis. My family sent me initially so that I could develop a healthy self-esteem. We did not expect, however, that the experience would benefit me much more when my life became more challenging unexpectedly.
On 12th March 2017, I will be giving a talk at the Fonteyn Studio Theatre, to share in detail how ballet has enabled me to thrive above all odds in spite of my health challenges and familial struggles.
Since January 2015, I directed all proceeds from the sale of books I authored to my foundation fundraising, hoping that doing so will boost support for the project and speed up the fundraising progress. Many books have been sold for that purpose and funds received were duly placed into the foundation fund. However, a few people misunderstood my intention, falsely speculating that I was using foundation funds on myself.
The foundation I am building has been my dream since the day I was diagnosed 16 years ago as I have always wanted to assist humanity in a big way since I was a child. To prevent the aforementioned misunderstanding from becoming widespread and hampering my dream, I have decided to redirect the funds from the sale of my books to myself, for my own livings, from December 2016 onward. As for foundation fundraising, I will henceforth focus on getting sponsors for the foundation. No longer using my own intellectual properties.
May this make things clearer. Books for me. Sponsors for foundation.
I have been transferring my own medical records from my previous treatment centers to Keck School of Medicine gradually the past few months so that Dr Friedman and his colleagues can start managing health condition for the long term.
My last brain surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma at NIH made me feel strongly that I should go back to previous surgeons who are experts in NF treatment and would be able to take better care of me.
The post operative care I received at NIH after the recent acoustic neuroma surgery was regrettable and costly to me. In the long term 6 years ago, I decided to join the NF2 study at NIH for the medical benefit but the last post operative care made me realize that, I should take care of myself for the sake of my foundation project and I should not let my own health be compromised or sacrificed in any way.Because I felt that I needed to relief myself from the need to fund my own treatments in order to build a foundation to help other patients.
I decided to get my own treatments at Keck as well, or thought of partnering with them as a foundation, because they were also the doctors who know my medical history best. Plus, achieving 2 objectives at the same place would be most ideal.
This is going to be a leap of faith for me because it means that I need to pay my own treatments again. But it is a necessary leap because I have an important mission in life and to fulfill my mission I have to maintain my own quality of life. I have just written my 2nd book which I hope will earn me the means to pay for my treatments at Keck because the foundation will only subsidize treatment cost for everyone partially including myself. It would not be empowering otherwise.
So, work by faith, I shall and not by sight. Literally.
Recently, a family member bought me a new laptop so I asked my friend, Elliot, to clean up the old one plus another old one I had, to be given away. After some deliberation, I remembered the African members of our church and decided to give them to help their situation.
I learned from Elliot 2 years ago about the Africans’ story as he personally helped them all these while. So called agents for Malaysia visited African countries and promised the students there that they could work in Malaysia under student visa. Many parts of Africa are impoverished. Their families sold everything to send their children here to study, intending to work at the same time to pay the rest of their tuition fees, their living costs and be able to send some money home. They were shocked later after arriving in Malaysia, to discover that they could not work on student visa.Having no money, they resorted to petty theft. Some of my church members reached out to them and learned about their predicament.
I told Elliot to give the laptops to them, not expecting anything in return but Elliot, being a nurturing leader, encouraged them to donate, so they collectively pulled RM400 for me.
Elliot came back and told me that they bought laptops. I was surprised so Elliot revealed further that he encouraged them to donate.
That made me smile. I always felt there was a fine line between business and charity.
Either way, the transaction was made out of love.
Economic recessions are a good opportunity for us to love and support each other. Just like how natural disasters can bring out the best in people. Recently, I asked a friend of mine to tidy up my old lap tops and electonics that I did not need anymore, so that I could pass them on to people I know who were in need for additional income urgently, such as a friend of mine who needed extra income to take care of her aging parents daily living expenses including their medical costs. I also passed on some copies of a book given to me by a local editor to another friend who lost her job few months ago and have difficulty finding a new employment. She resorted to borrowing money from people to pay rent or else she would lose the roof over head too.
Sometimes, I heard people say how unkind and heartless the world seemed to have become. This perception of ours would change when we take the first initiative to help and care for other people. When we do that, we will feel much love emerging from within ourselves. No need to search for love from others. We have it already inherently. Open your hearts.