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Scaling Greater Heights
30 October 2020

The Vertical Challenge 2020 is akin to the journey HCA embarks on with patients and caregivers – it may be arduous at times, but keeping a steady pace together is all that matters.

By Toh Wei Shi, HCA Community Relations

Climbing heights is undoubtedly challenging – your calves ache from going against gravity and your heart races from the exertion. For the participants of HCA’s inaugural The Vertical Challenge 2020, each step up is symbolic, a demonstration of support for the cause.

The Vertical Challenge 2020 is well into its first month, with nearly 20 groups and almost 100 participants in total. It is a collective act of love from individuals from all walks of life, including HCA staff, volunteers, supporters and family members of past and current patients.

One of these groups is affectionately named “Star PALS Loves You”, comprising nurses from the HCA Star PALS team and family members of Star PALS patients. Initiated by Poh Ya Nee, HCA Star PALS Senior Palliative Care Nurse, the combined team effort is a tribute to patients and their caregivers.

“It is my personal tribute to our patients and their caregivers, to send a message that their journeys are our journeys too,” Ya Nee explains. “We will be there to share the tears and laughter, the joy and fear and every step of adding life to days.”

Paying it Forward

For 17-year-old Amanda Ng, participating in The Vertical Challenge 2020 is an opportunity to raise awareness and demonstrate support for the cause. “Nurse Ya Nee approached my dad and I to form a team together with her, another nurse and Aunty Chiew Yi (mummy of another Star PALS patient),” Amanda explains. “Star PALS has always been family to us, so my dad and I decided to support this group!”

Ya Nee (centre, in pink) with Amanda (far right in pink) and Amelia at the Star PALS Family Camp 2019.

“Apart from raising funds, I really wanted to raise awareness for HCA and especially, Star PALS. Many people feel that hospice care is sad and devastating. However, being in Star PALS, my younger sister Amelia is living her life with so much joy.”

Lee Chiew Yi, whose late son was under Star PALS’s care, echoes similar sentiments. “Having been one of the families who benefited from the services of Star PALS, I know how important these home visits are,” Chiew Yi explains. “So, when I was approached by Ya Nee to form a group with her, I felt that it’s a small thing that I could do to pass it on.”

Through her personal experience, Chiew Yi also hopes to offer greater insights into the holistic support system that HCA and Star PALS offer. “Many times, people associate home care to be mainly medical in nature,” Chiew Yi says. “But the support we received was so much more than that. It was not only to support the beneficiary, but their family members as well, in emotional support and helping us be prepared for the worst time of their lives if and when it happens.”

“No matter how big or small the need is, Star PALS's doctors and nurses will try their best. Through my participation in the challenge, I hope people can gain some insight into this support that I couldn’t have survived without, during the most challenging time of my life.”

Conquering the Challenge

There are two categories to The Vertical Challenge 2020: the challenge and competitive. The challenge category is suitable for those who prefer a less-strenuous experience. Participants (as individuals or teams) can choose to complete vertical gains of either 50m (equivalent of 18 floors), 100m (36 floors) or 200m (72 floors) on multiple attempts.

The competitive category is catered for participants who are physically fit and looking to challenge themselves further. Participants (as individuals or teams) must complete vertical gains of either 250m (90 floors), 500m (179 floors), 1,000m (358 floors) or 2020m (722 floors) in one attempt.

While the Star PALS Loves You team has opted for a team challenge of 200m, they hope to push themselves further by consistently clocking vertical gains every day. “Like the palliative journey with our patients and their caregivers, it is all about pacing,” Ya Nee shares. “Even though I am unable to climb 2020m (competitive category) at one go, I will achieve that by climbing 12 floors every day for 60 days.”

For more information or to participate in The Vertical Challenge 2020, please visit https://www.thedandelionevents.org/