Kevin with his wife Gladys, who has been by his side as he faces the challenges of coping with nasopharyngeal cancer.
An Advocate for Generosity
Receiving news of a cancer relapse can be devastating. But Kevin Lee chose to face it by becoming an advocate for generosity and charity.
Although not born into the faith, 48-year-old Kevin Lee had a close relationship with his uncle who is Catholic, and was thus familiar with the Catholic faith and its traditions. The celebration of the Eucharist, in particular, was an aspect of the faith that intrigued him to experience it in its fullness.
It was only much later, during a low point in his life, that Kevin sought God. Having embarked on a career in administration and sales after completing his National Service in 1992, he was still not making any progress professionally after a year. He felt discouraged and lost. That was when he experienced God calling him to attend Mass and experience His love. He then decided to join RCIA.
Thus, began Kevin’s exciting yet tumultuous RCIA journey towards the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist), which ultimately spanned 15 years. Filled with much yearning and many obstacles, it was interrupted twice – once when he left for further studies to Australia, and again when his father suggested he be baptised only upon his return to Singapore from Australia.
It was only in 2008 that he was then finally baptised. Kevin was overjoyed to be finally accepted as a member of God’s family. A year later, he married Gladys, his greatest pillar of strength and support, who prayed for him and his RCIA journey from the moment they met.
Kevin’s life appeared to be sailing smoothly. However, in 2017, the bliss he was experiencing was disrupted when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer.
“My life changed drastically. First, I was in denial and filled with anger. I was devastated and felt completely hopeless. I could not help but feel that God had abandoned me, despite having guided me to baptism years before.”
However, God granted Kevin a new lease of life as his treatment proved successful and his cancer went into remission. While he suffered physically, Kevin grew spiritually and experienced God’s grace during this period of healing, with the comfort of Gladys standing beside him every step of the way. As the weeks turned into months and then years, he became more confident that things were finally getting better.
He said, “I was already past the halfway mark and only two-and-a-half years from proudly announcing that I had cleared the crucial ‘five-year-relapse’ period.”
It was not to be. During a routine half-yearly check early this year, the scan results showed that something was amiss. Further tests confirmed he had a relapse that required surgery.
Kevin said, “Once again, I felt just like when I was first diagnosed – lost! But, having experienced God’s infinite love and mercy, I trusted His divine wisdom and His plan for me.”
Besides having to worry about the relapse, it was also uncertain if Kevin’s surgery and treatments were going to be covered by his insurance policies. So Kevin embarked on a project to raise money through the sale of seven eBooks which he had authored. These books mainly focused on past experiences with issues in his life and were written to encourage others to reach out for their dreams and goals. Several of these were inspired by Gladys, who had sacrificed much while tending and encouraging him throughout his treatment.
At the same time, Kevin realised that the COVID-19 pandemic was preventing parishioners from physically attending Mass and contributing as they normally would. He felt prompted to help, and answered the call by pledging a portion of each eBook sale to various Catholic organisations despite his financial situation.
Within a week, family members, friends and even complete strangers generously chipped in and helped to raise about a third of the required amount.
When he later learnt that his insurance would cover his treatment, Kevin ended his personal fundraising campaign and focused on raising funds solely for the organisations.
He said, “The more I focused on helping others with the little I could, the more I became aware of God helping me with my needs, especially during the challenging moments of my treatment.”
Catholic Foundation is one of the organisations that Kevin has adopted as a beneficiary. For Kevin and Gladys, it felt appropriate for them to respond to the call to give, as they depended on the online Masses for regular spiritual sustenance during his trial. He said, “When I heard that contributions were dropping, I felt the need to channel my weekly contributions to the archdiocese to support the online Masses.”
Kevin has raised over $12,000 for the various Catholic organisations from more than 400 individuals. He is overwhelmed by the support, and has hope that what he has done will inspire others to do the same.
He said, “There have been many generous donors. Some of them were anonymous so I was not able to personally thank them. I feel very honoured to be granted the privilege to serve God and do my part for His Church. I pray that through my example, more people will likewise step forward in faith to promote Christian giving.”