Ka-mei Yuen: Living life with a fighting spirit

16 Jun 2023


As the saying goes, one should always plan ahead and get well-prepared. Nevertheless, our plans always fail to keep up with the changes, as there are always unexpected things in life, be it natural disasters such as the pandemic or diseases.

Ka-mei Yuen, a graduate of the Department of Social Work, is a happy-go-lucky person. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, commonly known as blood cancer, when she was in Secondary 5. While her classmates were working hard to prepare for the HKDSE, she was fighting the disease in the hospital. "I was still young at that time and I felt that death was far away from me. The doctor also said that the survival rate of this disease was high, so I believed that I would be able to overcome it," says Ka-mei.

During the two years of treatment in the hospital, Ka-mei was tormented physically and mentally. Seeing other patients in the ward passing away one after another, she suddenly felt that death was actually close to her. The optimistic girl couldn't help but feel helpless and powerless. Yet the unwavering care of her family, which she was grateful for, became the source of motivation and courage in her fight against the disease. "Our family is very close, and my parents and sisters love and support me very much. While I was in the hospital, my parents insisted on cooking meals for me, and travelled a long way from Kowloon to Queen Mary Hospital to bring them to me every day. They also tried to arrange for someone to accompany me day and night, giving me the courage to face the treatment," she says.

Since Ka-mei was underage at the time, she was admitted to the children's ward, where she met some social workers specialised in play therapy. "They are social workers of the Children's Cancer Foundation who accompany the child patients in the ward and help them ease their pain and express their emotions through play therapy. During my conversations with them, I understood that their work is very meaningful. Thus after I recovered, I chose to study social work."

During the four years of study at HKBU, Ka-mei met many compassionate professors who always walk the talk, taking a people-oriented approach. This inspired her to draw positive energy from her own experience and in turn guide the people in need in their darkest moments. "Coincidentally, I was assigned to work as a medical social worker in a hospital after my graduation. From a patient accompanied by the social worker in the past to a social worker who walks with the sick today, it felt so much different with my role reversed," she says.

Once a patient herself, Ka-mei could feel the pain of the patients and their families. At first, she couldn’t help but feel sad with them. Later, she realised that it is more important and helpful to keep them company and to listen to them, letting them know that there is someone understanding and supporting them all along.

Ka-mei loves eating and cooking. After her recovery, she went to France to learn how to make desserts. She thinks that the "Chocolate Lava Cake" can best represent herself: "The chocolate lava cake, which is crispy on the outside and soft inside, is like me, as I also have a soft heart. Moreover, chocolate, which is bittersweet, is just like my life. While it seems to be a bitter life, I can still appreciate the sweetness within.”