Defeating Cancer With a Smile: Allyson’s Story

Tzu Chi Medical Foundation  |  March 30, 2019
Photography / Luca Yeh

Author: Fangwen Huang
Translator: Penny Liu
Editor: Anik Ghose

Dr. Sou-Hsin Chien, Superintendent of Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital, spoke at the 2019 Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) Global Forum in the first day of events.  Dr. Chien topic of “Multimedia and Medicine” touched on the connections between multimedia and medicine from artistic, musical and theatrical angles, and how multimedia can be used to educate medical information to the general public. Dr. Chien used a TV program called “All About Health” as an example to share a rich content filled with humour that brought smiles to attendees’ faces.

As Dr. Chien was about to leave the auditorium, Allyson Lovina Phelan asked a Tzu Chi volunteer whether she could speak a few words with Dr. Chien. The Tzu Chi volunteer initially thought she wanted to ask a few medical related questions, however, as soon as she saw Dr. Chien, Phelan immediately teared up and said: “Your speech was so moving, I cried from beginning to end. I was a colon cancer survivor. When I heard the stories you told about the two patients, they really resonated with me.”

Allyson a Canadian, currently living in California shared her thoughts, and her story, she was still a little emotional.  Allyson shared right after her 42nd birthday, she discovered she had stage three colon cancer. She was very lucky to have an excellent doctor and optimal health-insurance coverage that enabled her to recover.  After her cancer’s remission, she created a series of counseling classes called “How To Get Through Cancer With A Smile” and became an inspirational speaker. She hopes to encourage cancer patients to fight cancer with a smile using her own experience.

Photography / Liao Shuchao
Photography / Liao Shuchao

One of the stories Dr. Chien shared that particularly touched her is about a 41 year-old breast cancer patient who was able to smile and courageously and optimistically comfort other cancer patients. She played guitar and sang songs that made patients smiled. Allyson express these stories of courage and helping others is what she wanted to achieve with her counseling classes. Allyson said: “The interaction between Dr. Chien and this cancer patient was filled with compassion and kindness. It really touched me deeply.”

The second story that resonated with Allyson is about a 20 year-old young man who fell when he was painting.  Due to inadequate care, the young man had a serious injury on his feet, and it soon ulcerated, disabling him from walking.  He was bedridden for 12 years and relied solely on his family members for daily necessities. After meticulous care and treatment by Dr. Chien’s team, that young  man is now able to use a wheelchair to get around his house and to go outside.

After hearing these two stories, Allyson saw Dr. Chien as a hero who does not only spend time to treat his patients, but with an aptitude of  love, hope and compassion.

Allyson joyfully said:

everyone must go out to help others and work together to create a better world. It feels great to give.