After his mother, Hsien-Ying Yeh, received a grim diagnosis of cervical cancer, Irving Chou’s lone goal became to fulfill her dying wish: to return her to her native Taiwan before she dies.
Chou turned to friends, family and neighbors from his native Lynbrook for support through GoFundMe, and at press time, he had raised over $41,000 of his $50,000 goal in a matter of days.
“It has been honestly overwhelming,” Chou, 25, said. “Originally, we didn’t expect much support, if any at all. Friends and family from all points in our lives have helped support our fundraiser, and we are grateful beyond words.”
Yeh, 56, was diagnosed with the illness in 2018. After her first set of treatments, it appeared she was headed toward remission, but the cancer metastasized throughout her body, and she was recently told she had only six months to live.
She and her husband, Ting-Fu Chou, immigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. in 1989 to provide a better life for their future children. They moved to Lynbrook when Irving was 5, and raised him and his younger sister, Sophia, in the village. Irving said his mother grew up poor and worked hard her whole life, and the move to Lynbrook came with the hope of giving her children opportunities that she didn’t have in her home country.
After adapting to life in the village, the family turned to fellow residents to help in one of their greatest times of need after Yeh was diagnosed. Chou said his mother has wanted to return to Taiwan for about 20 years, but after raising her children and working full-time as a bookkeeper, she never had the chance.
Now, he said, his mother hopes to make a one-way trip there to live out her final days in the country where she was raised. Thanks to the help of the Lynbrook community and others, he noted, she will get that chance.
“All the support has finally allowed us to experience a victory after so many losses, and has truly changed our lives,” Chou said. “My mom will be able to experience a peaceful passing, and our family will be able to remember that my mom was able to.”
The GoFundMe was also created because of a lack of medical coverage in Taiwan. Due to that, Yeh’s stay in hospice and her medical bills there will be paid out of pocket, which is drastically more than the family could finance on its own, according to Chou. The funds also will enable the family to help Yeh travel in comfort to Taiwan and cover her housing costs because she will have to quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic before she enters the hospital. According to the GoFundMe page, one of the biggest goals of the fundraiser is to enable Yeh to enjoy her final days in her home country.
On the GoFundMe page, Chou described how his mother displayed growth in her character by being a parent who “truly broke through her traditional outlooks to understand her children toward the end of her life.”
“Sending Mom to Taiwan means that I will say my final goodbye to her at the airport,” he shared on the GoFundMe page. “With the amount of pain and emotional suffering she has endured, I only tearfully wish for her to receive her final wish.”
With donations coming in from various people, and continuing steadily as the Herald went to press, Yeh shared her appreciation to her community and anyone who donated to help her final wish come true.
“I really did not expect this kind of support,” she said. “When I mentioned this wish to my family, I was just expressing a thought in passing. But after receiving support from so many friends, families and even strangers, I now realize that my hopes have now turned into reality. I can’t even express how thankful I am. I just feel so blessed, and I’m excited to finally go back.”
To learn more about Yeh or to contribute to the GoFundMe, visit bit.ly/2OKpPaB.