O-Level results: Mum’s cancer battle inspires student to rebuild his confidence

O-Level results: Mum’s cancer battle inspires student to rebuild his confidence
Chiang Wei Le. Photo: Wee Teck Hian
Published: 4:00 AM, January 12, 2017
Updated: 12:33 PM, January 12, 2017

SINGAPORE — For Tanglin Secondary School student Chiang Wei Le (picture), his GCE O-Level results more than made up for his “disappointing” Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) one.

He scored distinctions in mathematics, combined sciences, and design and technology, qualifying him to enter a polytechnic.

However, the memory of the setback from his last major exam loomed large.

He had hoped to attain a T-score of more than 200 for his PSLE, but he managed only 197. Wei Le’s hopes of applying to enter a well-known secondary school were dashed.

“I didn’t really put in much effort for the PSLE exams, because I thought it would be quite easy. But the results later sank in and I had to decide on other options,” the 16-year-old told TODAY.

Still mulling over his PSLE performance even after he entered Secondary 1, Wei Le had to face another blow: His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

As he was constantly thinking of his mother’s condition, he initially had trouble paying attention during lessons. However, seeing how his mother remained strong despite the cancer, he gradually picked himself up and decided to emulate her, taking the “resilient” approach.

“For my mum, having cancer was not the end of the world. So, I also tried not to keep thinking about her condition because then I would be more distracted,” he said.

He regained focus on his studies, and his efforts have paid off.

With support from teachers and classmates, Wei Le also learnt to build mental strength through school activities. In 2015, he was elected into the student council and was appointed the head of the school’s sports leadership board.

He remembered going through a leadership camp at the end of Secondary 1, where students had to march from Changi Beach to East Coast Park while carrying heavy buckets of water under the scorching sun.

It tested his endurance and mental strength, and Wei Le said it taught him that uttering phrases such as “Do your best” or “Never give up” was not enough.

“These words can be easily said, but you must do it, you must act on it,” he added.

The teen is still undecided about which polytechnic course to pursue, but he is sure that his mother, 48, who is still on medication, will be proud of his results.