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Music is the best medicine

August 13, 2017

Dreams come true

Dreams come true:  Cancer patient Lau Pak-chiu plays his pipa recital at Tuen Mun Hospital.

Proud dad

Proud dad:  Mr Lau's children, Shirley and Bryan, commend him for his inspired performance.

Road to recovery

Road to recovery:  Clinical staff from Tuen Mun Hospital volunteered to help organise Mr Lau's recital to aid his rehabilitation.

Positive attitude

Positive attitude:  Tuen Mun Hospital Department of Clinical Oncology Associate Consultant Dr Alice Ng says the mental attitude of a patient is important to their recovery.

Last year 68-year-old musician Lau Pak-chiu received some bad news. He was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.


To ease his anxiety and depression, Tuen Mun Hospital staff arranged for him to perform a solo pipa show in the hospital's activity room.


Playing to a full house, the performance last month reignited his love for music and his faith in family, friends and life.


Lost opportunity

Mr Lau started playing pipa at 17, learning from Master Lam Fung and winning a pipa solo competition at a music festival in 1973.


The pipa is a traditional Chinese stringed instrument that can be played solo or as part of an ensemble.


Mr Lau sadly missed the chance to join a Chinese orchestra as he needed to go to the Mainland for work.


His recent cancer diagnosis has given him the chance to pick up the pipa again.


Soothing sounds

 Tuen Mun Hospital Advanced Practice Nurse Elaine Hwang is a member of the team who volunteered to help arrange Mr Lau's recital when they noticed the depression he fell into after learning of his cancer diagnosis.


She said: "He worried about losing his job on the Mainland and the economic situation of his family.


"After chatting with him, we found his deep interest in pipa and his desire to perform. We then suggested holding a show for him to cheer him up and make his wish come true."


Nurse Hwang and other clinical staff then organised Mr Lau's show and searched for a suitable venue. They also put together a show programme leaflet.


The performance saw a full turnout.


Rapturous reception

Buoyed by the show's success, Mr Lau has a deepened respect for his friends and family, and a brighter outlook on life.


"Facing my illness, I am optimistic. I have finished chemotherapy and hope to have a better life.


"This was an inspirational show. When I was playing, I saw all my friends and family. I thanked them in my heart with my music. They really cared about me and made me feel loved.


"Holding a concert was my wish. I did it!"


Mr Lau's son Bryan was in the audience for the show.


"(Dad) was very professional and performed really well. It is my honour to have a father who plays music."


Life lesson

Tuen Mun Hospital Department of Clinical Oncology Associate Consultant Dr Alice Ng said the mental attitude of a patient is important to their recovery.


"Mr Lau has metastatic prostate cancer. Generally said, it is stage four, which means he does not have radical treatment. He is receiving some palliative treatment that aims to lengthen his survival and also to decrease the symptoms.


"Medical treatment of cancer includes a patient's physical needs and dealing with their spiritual needs. Such a concert will absolutely fulfil and satisfy Mr Lau's spiritual needs."


Tuen Mun Hospital Advanced Practice Nurse Maggie Yeung said the music's effect on Mr Lau was obvious.


"During the concert's preparation we could see Mr Lau becoming more positive and he was excited. This is very encouraging.


"When I saw his passion to perform and pursue his dream, I learned that sickness is just a part of life. We can choose how we face it, and live a beautiful life."


Mr Lau said he hopes to spread his passion for music with others by performing more shows and sharing his pipa knowledge with students.