“From [when I was] young, I’ve always been under the influence and impression that to be happy is to be successful. And to be successful is to be wealthy. So I led my life according to this motto.”
A Singaporean doctor delivered an important message before dying of lung cancer.
Dr. Richard Teo Keng Siang said that there is no denying that money is an important factor, but it shouldn’t be your main priority.
He said that health should be above everything else.
“People who are not happy to pay 20 Singaporean dollars ($15) to see a GP, the same person will have no qualms paying 10,000 Singaporean dollars ($7,310) for a liposuction, 15,000 Singaporean dollars ($10,970) for a breast augmentation.”
He went from being an ophthalmologist to a specialist in aesthetics which made him millions.
With all the money and sports cars, he was living on cloud nine. His meals came from the fanciest restaurants and even met high-value clients.
“I was at the pinnacle of my career. I thought I was having everything under control,”
Then the worst happened. Back in 2011, he was given six months to live because he was suffering from terminal lung cancer.
This got him wondering since none of his family members had malignant diseases.
“I couldn’t accept it. I have a hundred relatives on both sides, my mom and my dad… And not a single one has cancer,”
The nice things he had in life only provided him a temporary illusion of happiness. None of those things made him feel complete.
“See the irony is that all these things that I have, the success, the trophies, my cars, my house and all. I thought that brought me happiness. But having all these thoughts of my possessions, they brought me no joy.”
Sadly, the only time he found genuine happiness was at the end of his life.
“What really brought me joy in the last 10 months was interaction with people, my loved ones, friends, people who genuinely care about me, they laugh and cry with me, and they are able to identify the pain and suffering I was going through.”
Getting diagnosed with lung cancer was the only time he felt what cancer patients were going through.
“I did not know how they feel, not until I became a patient. And, if you ask me, would I have been a very different doctor if I were to relive my life now, I can tell you, yes I will. Because I truly understand how the patients feel now. And sometimes, you have to learn it the hard way.”
He also said that it is okay if you are aiming to live that luxurious lifestyle but you need to learn to balance things.
“There is nothing wrong with being successful, with being rich or wealthy, absolutely nothing wrong. The only trouble is that a lot of us like myself couldn’t handle it.
Richard also revealed that he saw patients as cheques and not human beings.
“I became so obsessed that nothing else really mattered to me. Patients were just a source of income, and I tried to squeeze every single cent out of these patients.”
Richard only knew how to live when he was already dying.
“When I faced death, when I had to, I stripped myself of everything and I focused only on what is essential. The irony is that a lot of times, only when we learn how to die then we learn how to live.”
His message still has a big impact on doctors.
His wife said that he is the greatest teacher she’s ever had.
Richard died in 2012.