Mrs Liu had a very hard life. She was born into a poor family in Hsinchu county, the youngest of seven children. Unable to raise her, her parents sold her to another family. It treated her very badly, physically abusing her and leaving her with bruises from head to toe. Her birth parents paid to buy her freedom; she moved to Taipei, where she worked as a maid in hospitals, restaurants and factories. She learnt to read and write on her own. In her twenties, she got married and, within the first seven years, gave birth to a girl and two sons. She was well treated by her parents-in law. Keen to make up for a lack of education, she studied hard at a community college.
Then one day, when she was accompanying her husband for a medical examination, she discovered by accident that she had lung cancer and that the disease had spread to other parts of her body. Initially, the doctors said that she had only one more year to live. She started chemotherapy in Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center and Hsinchu General Hospital, Department of Health. This gave her four meaningful years, for which she was very grateful to the medical teams. During her final years, she was weak but thanked the doctors and nurses for their care: she apologized to them for the fact that her health kept deteriorating despite their efforts to save her. She was truly a brave fighter who showed appreciation to others and remained at peace in her mind.
She often watched Da Ai (Great Love) television programs and learnt that a person could donate their body after death to improve the skills of the medical students. She often quoted her son and said: “in my next life, I would like to be a doctor. No matter how hard I worked, I am unsure how much I have given back to society. Saving lives and alleviating the suffering of people is the mission of doctors.”
During her final moments, Mrs. Liu stopped breathing for a while, then resumed after ten minutes. She waited until a medical report showed that she qualified to be a body donor. After she passed away, an ambulance took her body to Tzu Chi University. Her strong will and determination has made her a great teacher for us. Her body will help us improve our medical skills and her spirit will help to guide us, both doctors and patients, and persevere in times of hardship.
Written by Dr. Chou Yu-Cheng, neurosurgeon at Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, who visited and interviewed the family of Mrs Liu Li Rue-ing.
Translated by Siri Su
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