走不盡的癌路        許炳滿

我第一次與炳滿見面,是在醫院病房,他快到六十歲,跟我說,他剛打贏了心臟病……說得就像他常常打仗一樣。「2003年1月16日晚上7時,忽然心律不正休克去急症室,經兩次電殛搶救。再生的我,每次面對死亡威脅,每次心跳過速,就靜下來,按住心房要自己的心跳慢下來,再去想一些未完成的事,不可以這樣就死掉,我要活下去……就這樣過了9年,換了兩次起搏器。」沒想到,舌癌、淋巴癌卻又摸上門。

因為怕自己表達不清楚,炳滿給筆者寫了一封信箋,上面寫道:「2008年2月,醫生診斷要立刻動手術,否則只剩數月……」醫生幾乎拔光了他的牙齒,手術刀割下了炳滿的舌頭,再割下一塊大腿肉補上。此後,一個人的完整表達能力就這樣永遠失去了。此後幾年間,他一直在學走路,學說話,適應沒有嘴嚼的餐單。

一大群癌細胞在他口腔裡,準備了結他的一生。他曾遊說自己早日上路。他說他遇上一個生命中的天使,一個遊走病房和劏房之間的女社工。信箋上,他寫了好幾遍:「我要活下去,表演。」

談及年輕時代,他總說,過去的不想再提起。無意間,我知道他在70年代曾經富有,後來想必經歷了很大的震撼和動盪,中年後,曾經當過臨時工。炳滿「雪雪」道來,未見對人生的埋怨。

炳滿喜歡看樹,「看花,看人,也很好看。你留意看,人有好多種。以前不會這麼觀察,好好玩。有些人,看一會,就知道,他這段時間,很ok,很神氣。有些人,就不是了。」炳滿還喜歡走路,他說他還有一個願望,就是走遍整個香港。

炳滿以前開過很多名車,走路很少看人,看樹。現在走路也喘氣,要坐下來休息,所以才有機會停下來看人看樹。我問他是當下是開心還是不開心?他沒有考慮便說,當然是前者。一年後,我想了又想,最記得還他不斷重複那幾句「我要活下去」。

(節錄自《活一生人》攝影文集


Endless Battle Against Cancer      Hui Ping-moon

I first met Hui Ping-moon in a hospital ward.  The man, just shy of 60 years old then, told me he had only recently survived a heart attack.  From the way he spoke, he sounded like a seasoned warrior. An episode in 2003 was his biggest battle by far, he says. “It was 7pm on January 16, 2003, when I suddenly went into cardiac arrest due to an irregular heartbeat.  I was rushed to the hospital’s accident and emergency unit, where I was resuscitated twice with a defibrillator,” Ping-moon says. 

“Since then, every time my heart starts to race again, I try to calm myself down, pressing on my chest to slow down my heartbeat.  I think about all the things I have yet to accomplish in life and tell myself that I can’t just die like that, I have to live on.  I’ve lived my life like this for the past nine years.  I’ve had my pacemaker changed twice.  Having survived that, I didn’t think I would have to battle tongue cancer and lymphoma as well.” 

In case he could not express himself clearly, Ping-moon wrote me a letter detailing his ordeal after the diagnosis of cancer. “In February 2008, the doctor told me I had to have an operation immediately or I would die in a matter of months,” he wrote. In the operation theatre, the doctor removed almost all his teeth as well as his tongue, replacing it with a piece of flesh from his thigh, he says.  From that moment, Ping-moon would never be able to fully express himself, as other people do. Over the next few years, he would have to relearn how to walk, how to talk, and become accustomed to a new diet that would not require any chewing. 

The cancer cells that invaded his mouth were out to kill. And, indeed, for a time Ping-moon entertained thoughts of ending his life. But a meeting with an “angel” – a social worker who made the rounds in hospital wards and subdivided flats to help those in need – saved him from himself. In his letter, Ping-moon wrote several times:  “I want to live on, to perform”.

Whenever the topic of conversation touches on his past, he would steer it away, saying he doesn’t want to look back. I found out by chance that he used to be wealthy back in the 1970s. Whatever happened between then and now would have been a major turning point. In his middle years, he had had to take on a range of casual jobs to get by. As Ping-moon talks, I detect no bitterness at how life has treated him.

Ping-moon loves studying the trees, flowers, and even people around him. “Whether flowers or people, they’re interesting to look at.  If you study them carefully, you can tell there are many types of people, they are all very different.  I never used to observe people like I do now, but it’s fun,” he says.  “Some people, just one look at them and you know they’re doing well and they’re happy.  Others, you can tell that they’re not.” Ping-moon also likes to take long strolls. He says he has one wish: to have set foot on all of Hong Kong.

Ping-moon used to drive expensive cars and when he walked, he seldom studied the people and the trees around him.  But now that he has to stop to catch his breath after every few steps, he has the chance to observe his surroundings. As the interview draws to a close and I prepare to leave, I ask him whether he is happy or unhappy at the moment. “Of course I’m happy,” he replies without hesitation. 

It’s been a year since our meeting. Whenever I think of that time, what I remember most are the words he would repeat over and over again:  “I must live on.” 

(Excerpts from the book Life and Times)

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© 2017 Dustin Shum via Visura