FAYETTE, IA (April 1, 2009) -Upper Iowa University student Yvonne Foong, 22, from Subang Jaya, Malaysia, flew to the U.S. for a serious and costly surgery on a tumor behind her right eye.
Foong was admitted to Los Angeles' Good Samaritan Hospital on March 11 for gamma knife radiosurgery on the optic nerve to treat a rare genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NFII), of which symptoms manifested six years ago. The tumor cannot be completely removed but surgery can stop its growth. Left untreated, the tumor can lead to total blindness. Foong's surgery went well, but she still remains in the U.S. for recovery and follow-up.
People often ask Foong why she goes to L.A. for surgery, even though it's so costly. Her matter-of-fact response is simply, "It's either I get the best medical support possible, or I give up on life."
Foong is no stranger to challenges like NFII. This young woman, who comes from a family of modest means, has only limited vision in both eyes, so is considered legally blind, and has been deaf since age 13. While others might let such severe physical impairments impede their ability to succeed, Foong moves forward despite her challenges. She is an individual of perseverance, ingenuity, and on a quest to lead a totally fulfilling life.
Prior to entering Upper Iowa University's psychology degree program in Malaysia, Foong, who is a sophomore at UIU, earned college credits in music from MSc International College in Subang Jaya and mass communications from Life College based in Petaling Jaya.
In 2005, Foong was the first recipient of the Dream Malaysia Most Outstanding Youth of the Year award. The annual award is aimed at recognizing the exceptional spirit of young Malaysians, who have a dream for a better, brighter future. She recently won the Her World Young Achiever's 2008 award, which will be presented to her on April 14 in Kuala Lumpur.
Foong has already written a book entitled, I'm Not Sick, Just A Bit Unwell, that has sold thousands of copies. It is available on her website where she also promotes a special line of T-shirts to assist in funding her medical problems. These T-shirts sport an ambigram that says "Heart4Hope" upside down and backwards.
She also maintains a regular blog on her website. "Being unable to read is like dying," blogs Foong. "Life becomes so boring and meaningless. There's so many books, so much knowledge to acquire." Although she has learned Braille, these books are expensive and not always available, particularly as textbooks.
To assist Foong with her medical expenses through the purchase of a T-shirt or book, or to make a cash donation, please go to www.yvonnefoong.com, or contact Kristin Jorgenson with UIU International Programs at 563-425-5251or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NFII is a disorder characterized by the growth of noncancerous tumors in the nervous system. Some of these growths develop along the nerve that carries information from the inner ear to the brain (the auditory nerve). If tumors develop in other parts of the brain or spinal cord, signs and symptoms vary according to their location. Complications of tumor growth can include changes in vision or sensation, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, and fluid buildup in the brain. Some people NFII also develop clouding of the lens (cataracts) in one or both eyes, often beginning in childhood. The signs and symptoms of this condition usually appear during adolescence or in a person's early twenties.
Director of Public Relations
Work - 563-425-5326
Cell - 319-610-7108
Fax - 563-425-5701