Liew Kum Heng

Mr Liew is a friendly, jovial man who opens his home to others with a happy heart. Just before his interview, a group of his former students paid their old headmasters' home to spend time with him – an indicator of the impression he has left on the people he mentored.

Teaching, however, is only one of his passions. Mr Liew also loves to travel. “I love seeing different places and immersing myself in different cultures,” he says.

Since his retirement, he travels often with a group of friends. They trot all around the globe and mostly settle down with people who host homestays. “Everyday I look around online for free flights,” Mr Liew proclaims proudly. “I don’t travel in luxury or live in five star hotels – that’s how I can afford to travel so often. It’s not about living in the best rooms, it’s about the experiences you have when you are there,” he adds.

Unfortunately, it was on one such travel that Mr Liew experienced a sudden heart attack that led him to him being diagnosed with stomach cancer. The disease left him with little option but to remove his stomach, which he did, and discovered that the cancer had by then spread to his lungs. Treatable with chemotherapy in most cases but because of Liew’s underlying heart condition, it was ruled out as an option.

Mr Liew now receives palliative care from the Hospis Malaysia team, made up of nurses, doctors, and a physiotherapist. The team works together to assess Mr Liew’s goals and needs, and work together to support him to be as independent as he possibly can. Today, several months after undergoing palliative care, Mr Liew is just as cheerful as always.

He has learned to not let his condition hold him down. Mr Liew spends his days zooming around Kuala Lumpur on his motorcycle, looking for his favourite foods or shopping for groceries to bring home to his loving wife. Mr Liew’s love for travel is still going strong and he travels at every opportunity he gets – but not without getting his doctor's “OK”. His advice for everyone is, “Don’t let life get you down, live it!”

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