Unbreakable Dreams

30-year-old Agnes Tung had always been a fighter. From a young age, she had battled against Mucopolysaccharidosis type VI (MPS VI), an extremely rare genetic condition that affected her mobility and vision. Despite her struggles, she refused to let her condition define her, and always sought to live life to the fullest.

Fate dealt her another cruel blow when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer in 2011. She underwent major surgery to have metal implants inserted into her right leg, which affected her mobility further. Determined not to let this setback keep her down, Agnes fought through the pain and began the long road to recovery.

After a fall that left her muscles weak and strained, Agnes was referred to St Luke’s Hospital for rehabilitation. At first, she was skeptical about the potential for recovery, for she had already been through so much and wasn’t sure if rehabilitation would improve her condition. 

Her perspective changed entirely when she started her rehabilitation journey. “My care team is patient, kind and understanding. They didn’t just treat me like a patient, addressing only my medical conditions. They cared about how I felt and wanted, and that made me feel cared for as a whole person. Someone with real hopes and dreams,” said Agnes.

The team worked with her to create a customised rehabilitation plan that took into account her unique challenges and goals. With their support, Agnes began to regain her strength and independence. She learnt new techniques for managing her daily activities and using the right type of equipment. 

One of the things that impressed Agnes the most was the home assessment by her care team. The therapists evaluated her living space and made recommendations for modifications that would make her daily navigation safer and more manageable. “This was something that was offered to me for the first time, and it really put my mind at ease and made a huge difference to my recovery,” said Agnes. 

“It is important to work together as a team with our patients and their families to ensure that patients are well-taken care of at home. We believe that patients and families know best and having a collaborative approach allows our patients and families to be more forthcoming with their difficulties and creates a feedback loop to the interventions that we have suggested,” said Teo Jie Ting, Medical Social Worker at St Luke’s Hospital. 

As Agnes progressed in her rehabilitation, her fighting spirit shone through. She constantly pushes herself to participate in therapy sessions to regain independence and reduce the need to rely on others. 

In the near future, Agnes plans to write a book about her life to encourage others who might be facing similar challenges. Her dream is to be an advocate for people with disabilities, to show that having a condition like hers doesn’t have to limit their potential. 

Even though she knows that the future may bring physical limitations or even death, Agnes chooses to live in the present and make the most of each day. “Despite all these challenges, there is still a purpose in my life, and anything is still possible as long as I don’t give up.” 

[Photo caption] To express her gratitude and appreciation, Agnes gifted thank you cards and donuts to her dedicated care team.