Friday, January 6, 2017

Case Study #36 - Yvonne Dancing Ballet

"Yvonne Dancing Ballet" 30" x 24" Oil on Canvas
Yvonne Foong was born in the city of Petaling Jaya, Malaysia on June 5,1986. Her father was a landscaper, while her mother was a florist. I was born a healthy child except for an underdeveloped left eye. Three years later, her father suffered a brain hemorrhage. He woke up after 1 month in a coma and lived with his damaged brain for another 21 years. As Yvonne grew up, her father's mental capacity gradually and steadily declined. He tried his best to take care of her but he had poor emotional regulation ability and was very forgetful. Her mother was overwhelmed and collapsed. She also tried her best to raise Yvonne while having to care for her father. Yvonne went to school and grew up healthy. Her aunt protected her early childhood development by spending quality time with her and teaching her many things. She introduced Yvonne to: ballet, figure skating, art, music and just about anything she wanted to learn. Her mother, despite her own helplessness, also trained her to become independent using simple ways such as allowing her to go buy food in a mall by herself since she was a toddler.
Prep Sketch for Yvonne's painting

When Yvonne was 13 years old, her own health started declining. She lost her hearing within a year and started falling down for no reason when she was 14. Her mother at that time was facing a lot of challenges and emotional stress, so when Yvonne told her of her problems, she could not deal with it. This continued until she could barely walk at age 16 and was finally taken to the doctor whereupon countless tumors were found in my brain and along my spinal chord. She was diagnosed with NF2. Yvonne had her first 2 surgeries in Malaysia immediately to try saving what was left. The doctors there, could not remove the brain tumors completely and safely so, she needed to look for alternatives. Another patient she met online, introduced Yvonne to his surgeon, Dr. Rick A. Friedman in Los Angeles who volunteered to remove it for her for free. Since that surgery, Yvonne resolved to go back to him for my future surgeries to remove other tumors in the years that followed, but the hospital and the surgeons were not able to do her future surgeries for free. She could understand that as they also have other patients they need to help. Yvonne's life experience with her father's fate makes her determined to maintain her own quality of life no matter what it takes, for she has seen and knows what will happen if she deteriorates and become dependent. Yvonne decided to raise the funds needed for surgery by her own efforts. Someone helped her design a T-shirt and she sold it piece by piece, at a modest price of just RM30 a piece. When someone agrees to buy, it makes her feel very happy because she was earning the money with her own earnest efforts. She needed RM230,000.00 for surgery, back in 2006. Initially, people ignored her on the streets, but slowly more and more people supported and came forward to help her sell by consignment. Within 10 months, Yvonne managed to raise enough funds for surgery. This was back when there was no social media and no one has heard of her before.

Yvonne continued to raise funds this way for her future surgeries in the US. Fundraising got easier and easier and faster too. In the process, she also turned into a public speaker and inspiration. Many people with all kinds of life challenges also came to her for assistance throughout the years. She tries to help them physically and monetarily, including NF patients.

Yvonne realized that she needed a proper way to help people. So she decided to set up a foundation to help other patients with NF get life saving treatments in the US. Now they can have a chance to extend their lives and also empower themselves in the process. Just like what Yvonne did.

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