For 8 months (Nov 2014 - June 2015) Lara lived with me in Bangkok while she worked at ESCAP, Human Rights Watch and doing sundry other charitable works. Literally overnight she collected a whole new cadre of friends and my house virtually became a B+B for her friends from around the world. It was full of fun, laughter and life.
We became yoga buddies, hiking and travel buddies and she cured my insomnia with our Thai reading lessons late at night. We would manage a max of 30 minutes of Thai, and I would be fast asleep… better than any sleeping pills. She would giggle so hard at phrases like “Eee ka laeow juer teen ta (อีกาเลวเจอตีนตา),” which means “A bad crow meets the foot of mother’s father!”
Knowing that I don’t like useless gifts and knick knacks, she made me this lovely photo book of our life together in Thailand and jokingly said, “You can add it to your Nina shrine!”, referring to the coffee table where I proudly display several books about Nina’s Olympic journey.
Lara, I know what a difficult journey lies ahead for you and that your life has changed forever and completely overnight. We started this journey together when you walked into my room that morning and said, “Pa Pan, the pain in my right hip has moved to the left hip,” prompting you to agree to go see a rheumatologist.
Nina, my daughter, had recently had acute rheumatic fever manifested by symptoms of migratory arthritis similar to Lara’s. So I was really alarmed that Lara might have something similar. Lara put off the doctor’s appointment for a day, refusing to miss the all day commitment she had working on domestic migrant workers. So the day after we went to the doctor together. We arrived for our appointment at 9 am and by 11 am and after 2 simple blood tests, the doctor confirmed the diagnosis of leukaemia. It was surreal and the worst moment of my lifel!
Lara, I am in awe of the courage and grace you have shown and how despite it all, you continue to SMILE that beautiful smile of yours which always light up the room.
So on this new journey I will be with you. I make you a promise to do my utmost to help your cause #Match4lara, a search to save lives.
Aunt Pan (Auntie #3)
PS. I had whiplashed from being lured into Bubble football so that Lara could lower the cost of this activity that she arranged amongst her friends!