Just so I won't forget, I am posting his message which I got from this link
Recorded at the Dental Christian Fellowship , on 24 Nov 2011, 8 months after his diagnosis.
Richard would have liked to share this with you. We are doing this to continue his work.
Please have a read and leave it behind for someone else to benefit from his sharing.
If you would like a copy, please let any of his family or close friends
know and we will be able to provide both the audio recording as well as
Thank you, and may God bless you richly.
Below is the transcript of the talk of Dr. Richard Teo, who was a
40-year-old millionaire and cosmetic surgeon with a stage-4 lung cancer,
sharing at a Dental Christian Fellowship Meeting. He would have liked
to share this with you too.
Hi good morning to all of you. My voice is a bit hoarse from the
chemotherapy, so please bear with me. I thought I'll just introduce
myself. My name is Richard, I’m a friend of Danny’s, who invited me
I’d just begin to say that I’m a typical product of today’s society.
Before this, I was talking about how the media influences us etc. So I’m
a typical product of what the media portrays. From young, I’ve always
been under the influence and impression that to be happy, is to be
successful. And to be successful, is to be wealthy. So I led my life
according to this motto.
Coming from a poor average family, back in those days, I was highly
competitive, whether in sports, studies, leadership. I wanted it all.
I’ve been there, done that. But at the end of the day, it’s still about
So in my recent last years, I was a trainee in ophthalmology, but I was
getting impatient, cos I had friends of mine who were going out into
private practise, making tonnes of money. And there I was, stuck in a
traineeship. So I said, ‘Enough, it’s getting too long.’ At that time,
there was a surge in protégés of aesthetic medicine. I’m sure you’re
aware, aesthetic medicine had peaked over the last few years, and I saw
good money in there. So much so that I said, ‘Forget about
ophthalmology, I’m gonna do aesthetic medicine.’ So that’s what I did.
The truth is, nobody makes heroes out of the average GP in the
neighbourhood. They don't. They make heroes out of rich celebrities,
politicians, rich and famous people. So I wanted to be one of these. I
dived straight into aesthetic medicine. People were not willing to pay
when I was doing locum back in those days. Anything more than $30, they
would complain that “Wah, this lo kun (doctor) jing qwee (very
expensive)”. They made noise and they were not happy. But the same
people were willing to pay $10 000 for a liposuction. So I said, ‘Well,
let’s stop healing the sick, I’m gonna become a beautician; a
And that was what I did – liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid
surgeries, you name it, we do it. It was very good money. My clinic,
when we started off, waiting time was 1 week; 1 month; became 2 months;
became 3 months. There was so much demand that people were literally
queuing up to have aesthetic work done on them. Vain women – easy life!
So the clinic grew. I was so overwhelmed, from 1 doctor, I employed 2,
then 3, then 4 doctors, and carried on. Nothing is ever enough. I wanted
more and more and more. So much so that we set up shop in Indonesia to
lure all the Indonesian tai tai’s. We set up shop, set up a team of
people there, to get more Indonesian patients to come in.
So, things were doing well. I’m there, my time has arrived.
Around some time in February last year, I said, ‘OK, I have so much
spare cash, it’s time to get my first Ferrari. So there I was, getting
ready for the deposit. ‘OK! There comes my first Ferrari!’ I was looking
for land, to share with some of my friends. I have a banker friend who
makes $5 million a year. So I thought, ‘Come, let’s come together. Let’s
buy some land and build our houses.’
I was at my prime, getting ready to enjoy. At the same time, my friend
Danny had a revival. They were going back to church, some of my close
friends. They told me, ‘Richard, come, join us, come back to church.’
I have been a Christian for 20 years; I was baptised 20 years ago, but
it was because it was fashionable to be a Christian then. All my friends
were becoming Christians then. It was fashionable! I wanted to be
baptised, so that when I filled in a form, I could put there “Christian”
– feels good. In truth, I had never had a bible; I don’t know what the
bible is all about.
I went to church for a while, after some time, I got tired. I said it’s
time to go to NUS, stop going to church. I had a lot more things to
pursue in NUS – girls, studies, sports etc. After all, I had achieved
all these things without God today, so who needs God? I myself can
achieve anything I want.
In my arrogance, I told them, “You know what? You go tell your pastor to
change your sermon to 2pm. I will consider coming to church.” Such
arrogance! And I said 1 statement in addition to that – till date, I
don’t know I’ve regretted saying that – I told Danny and my friends, “If
God really wanted me to come back to church, He will give me a sign.”.
Lo and behold, 3 weeks later, I was back at church.
In March 2011, out of the blues – I was still running around, ‘cause I’m
a gym freak and I always go to the gym training, running, swimming 6
days a week. I had some backache, and that’s all I had, but it was
persistent. And so I went for an MRI to exclude prolapsed disc. And the
day before I had my scan, I was still in the gym, lifting heavy weights,
doing my squats. And the next day, they found that half my spine had
bone marrow replacement. I said, “Woah, sorry, what’s that?”
We had a PET scan the next day, and they diagnosed that I had terminal
lung cancer, stage 4B. It had spread to the brain, half the spine, whole
of my lungs were filled with tumour, liver, adrenals…
I said, “Can’t be, I was just at the gym last night, what’s going on?”
I’m sure you know how it feels – though I’m not sure if you know how it
feels. One moment I was there at the peak, the next day, this news came
and I was totally devastated. My whole world just turned upside down.
I couldn’t accept it. I have a hundred relatives on both sides, my mom
and my dad. 100 of them. And not a single one has cancer. To me, in my
mind, I have good genes, I’m not supposed to be having this! Some of my
relatives are heavy chain smokers. Why am I having lung cancer? I was in
HIS ENCOUNTER WITH GOD
So the next day, I was still in a state of denial, still unable to
accept what was going on. There I was lying in an operating theatre in a
hospital, for a needle biopsy (for histology). There I was, just
completed the biopsy, and lying in the operating theatre. The nurses and
doctors had left; told me I had to wait for 15 minutes to do a check
X-ray to make sure there’s no pneumothorax (a complication).
And there I was, lying on the operating table, staring blankly at the
ceiling in a cold, quiet operating theatre. Suddenly I just heard an
inner voice; it was not like coming from outside. It was inside. This
small inner voice that I had never felt before. And it said very
specifically, it said, “This has to happen to you, at your prime,
because it’s the only way you can understand.”
I said, “Woah, why did that come from?” You know, when you speak to
yourself, you’d say, “OK, what time should I leave this place? Where
shall I have dinner after this?” You’d speak from a first person point
of view. You don’t say, “Where should YOU go after this?” Whereas the
voice that came spoke as a third party. It said, “This has to happen to
YOU, at YOUR prime, because this is the only way YOU can understand.” At
that time, my emotions just overflowed and I broke down and cried,
alone there. And I knew then, subsequently, what it means to understand
that why this is the only way.
Because I had been so proud of myself, my whole life, I needed nobody
else. I was gifted with things that I could do, why do I need anybody
else? I was just so full of myself that there was no other way I could
have turned back to God.
In fact, if I were diagnosed with stage 1 or 2, I would have been
looking around busily for the best cardiothoracic surgeon, remove a
section of the lobe (do a lobectomy), do preventive chemotherapy…The
chances of it being cured is extremely high. Who needs God? But I had
stage 4B. No man can help, only God can.
A series of events happened after that. I wasn’t sold after that,
because of the inner voice, I became believing, prayers, all that. No I
wasn’t. To me, it was just ‘maybe there was a voice; or maybe that was
just me talking to myself.’ I didn’t buy the story.
What happened next was that I was being prepared for chemotherapy. I
started off with a whole brain radiation therapy first; takes about 2 -3
weeks. In the meantime they prepared me for chemotherapy, supplements
etc. One of the things they used for chemo was a thing called Zometa.
Zometa - they use it to strengthen the bones; once the bone marrow
(replacement) is cured of cancer cells, it becomes hollow, so we need
Zometa to strengthen the bone to prevent compression fractures.
One of the side effects of Zometa is that it can cause osteonecrosis
(bone death) of the jaw, and I had to have my wisdom teeth removed.
Years ago, I had my upper wisdom teeth removed, cos it was giving me
trouble. The lower ones didn’t give me trouble so I said, “Forget it,
just leave it.” So of cause, Danny volunteered to remove it for me.
So there I was, lying there in a dental chair, asking myself, suffering
all the side effects of radiotherapy, and now I have to go through
wisdom tooth surgery. As if I’ve not had enough to suffer! So I asked
Danny, “Eh, bro, is there any other way? Can I not go though this?” He
said, “Yes, you can pray.”
I said, “What’s there to lose? Ok lah, pray lah!” And so we prayed. And
we did an X-ray after that. Everything was all there, all the appliances
and everything. And lo and behold, the Xray showed that there was no
wisdom teeth in the lower jaw. I know most people have 4 wisdom teeth,
maybe some have none, but to be missing one or 2, as I understand – I’m
not too sure, as I understand – is not that common.
Still I was, “Nah, I don’t care about that.” To me, as long as I didn’t
have to take out the tooth, I was happy. At that point, I still wasn’t
sold on prayers. Maybe it was just a coincidence – for whatever it’s
I continued meeting my oncologist, asking him, “How long do I have?” I
asked him. He said, not more than 6 months. I said, “Even with
chemotherapy?” About 3 – 4 months, he said.
I couldn’t grasp that. It was difficult to come to terms. And even as I
went through radiotherapy, I was struggling everyday, especially when I
wake up, hoping that it’s just a nightmare; when I wake up, it’s all
As I was struggling, day after day, I went into depression, which is the
typical denial, depression blah blah blah that you go through. But for 1
reason, I don’t know why, there was this specific day that I was
supposed to meet my oncologist. At about 2pm, I felt this sudden surge
of peace, comfort, and in fact, a little happiness. It was just
overflowing. For no rhyme or reason, it just came about 2pm, as I was
getting ready, dressing up to meet my oncologist. So much so that I
whats-apped all my friends that, “Bros, I just feel so good suddenly! I
don’t know why, it just came!”
And it was only days, or was it weeks after, that Danny revealed to me
that he had fasted for 2 days for me, and he was bargaining with God,
and fasted for 2 dyas, and he ended his fast at that exact same point,
about 2pm thereabouts, that this surge of sensation came to me for no
rhyme or reason. And I didn’t know that he was fasting for me. And when
he ended the fast, I felt that sensation!
Whoa, things were getting a bit too coincidental. I was starting to buy a
bit of the story, but still I wasn’t sold. As days passed by, I
completed my radiotherapy, about 2 weeks plus. Getting ready for chemo,
so they let me rest for a few days.
See, the mortality rate of lung cancer : Lung cancer has the highest
mortality rate. If you add up breast, colorectal (colon) cancer, and
prostate cancer (the top few cancers in Singapore for men and women), if
you add up the mortality rate of these 3, it still doesn’t add up to
lung cancer. Simply because, you understand, you can remove the
prostate, the colon, the breast, but you cannot remove your lungs.
But there’s about 10% of lung cancer patients who do pretty well for
some reasons, because they have this specific mutation; we call it the
EGFR mutation. And it happens, only 90% of the time, in Asian ladies who
never smoked in their lives. Me, first of all, I’m male. 2ndly, I’m a
social smoker. I take one a day after dinner; weekends, when my friends
offer me, I take it as well. I’m a light smoker, not a social smoker.
But still, my oncologist was still not hopeful for me to have this
The chances of it happening for me was maybe 3-4% for me to get it.
That’s why I was being primed to go for chemo. But through all the
intense prayers, friends like Danny, people that I don’t even know, it
turned out that, during my waiting for chemo, the results came back that
I was EGFR positive. I was like, “Woah, good news!” Cos now I don’t
have to undergo chemo at that time, because there’s this oral tablet
that you can use to control this disease.
Just to share with you some idea – this is a CT scan – thorax – of my lungs, before treatment.
Every single dot there is a tumour. You can see all the mets
(metastasis) there. This is just one single plane. Literally I had it in
both lungs, and I had literally tens of thousands of tumour. That’s why
the oncologist told me, even with chemo, at most 3-4 months.
But because of this mutation, they have this oral medication. This is
what happened after 2 months of treatment. As you can see over here;
this is what God can do. And that’s why I’m still here having this
opportunity to share with you. As you can see over here, the difference
between before and after treatment.
At that point, I said, “Well, it’s to be expected, isn’t it? The
medicine is good.” I’m still not buying the story. Well, the guys prayed
for me and the tumour markers started to come down. 90% of the tumours
were wiped out, and the tumour markers came down to more than 90% over
the next few months.
But still, you know, once you have the clinical knowledge, you know the
statistics. One year survival, two year survival; having all this
knowledge is not a good thing. Cos you live with the knowledge that even
with all this, the cancer cells are so unstable, they keep mutating.
They will overcome and become resistant to the drugs, and eventually
you’re gonna run out of medication.
So living with this knowledge is a huge mental struggle, a huge mental
torture. Cancer is not just about a physical struggle, it’s a huge
mental torture. How do you live with no hope? How do you live with not
being able to plan for the next few years? The oncologist tells you to
bear with it for the next 1 – 2 months. So it’s a lot of struggles as I
went through: March, then April. April was my lowest point, in deep
depression, struggling even as I was recovering.
HIS ACCEPTANCE & PEACE
And one of those days, I was there in bed, struggling in the afternoon,
asking God, “Why? Why do I have to go through this suffering? Why do I
have to endure this hardship, this struggle? Why me?”
As I fell asleep, in my dreamy state, a vision just came, that says Hebrews 12:7-8.
Now mind you, at this time, I had not read the bible. I have no clue
what’s Hebrews, I don’t even know how many chapters there are. Totally
But it says Hebrews 12:7-8, very specifically.
I didn’t think too much of it. I just continued sleeping. Then I woke
up, and I said, “What’s there to lose? I’d just check it out lah!” Danny
had bought me a bible; it’s still quite new. I said, “It’s ok, just
try.” So I flipped to the Old Testament. Hebrews to me sounds like
something ancient, so it should be in the Old Testament right? So I
flipped through the Old Testament. No Hebrews there. I was so
Then I said, “Maybe New Testament, let’s have a look!”. WOW – New
Testament, there’s Hebrew’s!! It says Hebrews 12:7-8. It says, “Endure
hardship as discipline as God is treating you as His children.”
I said, “WAH!! Where did that come from?” I was getting goose pimples
all over my body. I said, “This can’t be, right?” I mean, what’s the
chance of somebody, who has never read the bible, to have a vision of a
chapter of a specific verse, that answers my question directly?
I think God called to me directly as I was there sleeping, struggling
with it, asking God, “Why do I have to suffer? Why do I have to suffer
this?” And God says “Endure hardship as discipline as God is treating
you as His child.”
At this point, the chance of that happening is even lesser than my EGFR
being positive. There’s just no way; there’s so many millions of
thousands of verses in the bible, how can I just conjure up something
So at that point, I was sold I said, “YOU WIN! YOU WIN!!”
Ok , I was convinced. And so from that day onwards, I started believing
in my God. And the last time I heard that inner voice was the end of
April. And that inner voice, same thing, in the afternoon, as I was
sleeping (this time I wasn’t struggling, just going to sleep). In a
dreamy state I just heard Him say, “Help others in hardship.”
It was more like a command, rather than a statement. And that’s when I
embarked on this journey, helping others in hardship. And I realised
that hardship is not just about being poor. In fact, I think a lot of
poor people are probably happier than a lot of us here. They are so
easily contented with whatever they have, they’re probably pretty happy.
Hardship can happen to rich people; it can be physical hardship, mental
hardship, social, etc. And also over the last few months, I started to
understand what this true joy is about. In the past, I substituted true
joy with the pursuing of wealth. I thought true joy is about pursuing
wealth. Why? Cos let me put it to you this way, in my death bed, I found
no joy whatsoever in whatever objects I had – my Ferrari, thinking of
the land I was going to buy to build my bungalow etc, having a
It brought me ZERO comfort, ZERO joy, nothing at all. Do you think I can
hold onto this piece of metal and it’s going to give true joy? Nah,
it’s not going to happen.
True joy comes from interaction with other people. And at a lot of
times, it is a short term pride, the past. When you pursue your wealth,
Chinese New Year is the best time to do it. Drive my Ferrari, show off
to my relatives, show off to my friends, do my rounds, and then you
thought that was true joy? You really think that those guys who sold you
your Ferrari, they share their joy with you? And your relatives, wow,
they share this joy with you? In truth, what you have done is just to
illicit envy, jealousy, and even hatred. They are not sharing the joy
with you, and what I have is that short-term pride that wow, I have
something you don’t have! And I thought that was joy!
So what we have is basically a short-term pride at the expense of
somebody else. And that wasn’t true joy. And I found no joy at all on my
deathbed, thinking of my Ferrari – to hold on to it, sayang it?!?
True joy I discovered comes from interaction. Over the last few months I
was so down. Interaction with my loved ones, my friends, my brothers in
Christ, my sisters in Christ, and only then was I able to be motivated,
able to be uplifted. To share your sorrow, to share your happiness –
that’s true joy.
And you know what makes you smile? True joy comes from helping others in
hardship, and because I’ve gone through this, I know what hardship
entails. In fact, there’re some cancer patients who tell me a lot of
times, people come up to them and tell them, “Stay positive. Stay
positive.” Yah, right. You come in my shoes and you try to stay
positive! You don’t know what you’re talking about!
But I have the licence. So I’ve been going out to meet other fellow
cancer patients, to share with them, encourage them. And I know, because
I’ve been through it, and it’s easier for me to talk to them.
And most importantly, I think true joy comes from knowing God. Not
knowing about God – I mean, you can read the bible and know about God –
but knowing God personally; getting a relationship with God. I think
that’s the most important. That’s what I’ve learnt.
So if I were to sum it up, I’d say that the earlier we sort out the
priorities in our lives, the better it is. Don’t be like me – I had no
other way. I had to learn it through the hard way. I had to come back to
God to thank Him for this opportunity because I’ve had 3 major
accidents in my past – car accidents. You know, these sports car
accidents – I was always speeding , but somehow I always came out alive,
even with the car almost being overturned. And I wouldn’t have had a
chance. Who knows, I don’t know where else I’d be going to! Even though I
was baptised it was just a show, but the fact that this has happened,
it gave me a chance to come back to God.
Few things I’d learnt though:
1. Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart – this is so important.
2. Is to love and serve others, not just ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with being rich or wealthy. I think it’s
absolutely alright, cos God has blessed. So many people are blessed with
good wealth, but the trouble is I think a lot of us can’t handle it.
The more we have, the more we want. I’ve gone through it, the deeper the
hole we dig, the more we get sucked into it, so much so that we worship
wealth and lose focus. Instead of worshipping God, we worship wealth.
It’s just a human instinct. It’s just so difficult to get out of it.
We are all professionals, and when we go into private practise, we start
to build up our wealth – inevitably. So my thought are, when you start
to build up wealth and when the opportunity comes, do remember that all
these things don’t belong to us. We don’t really own it nor have rights
to this wealth. It’s actually God’s gift to us. Remember that it’s more
important to further His Kingdom rather than to further ourselves.
Anyway I think that I’ve gone through it, and I know that wealth without
God is empty. It is more important that you fill up the wealth, as you
build it up subsequently, as professionals and all, you need to fill it
up with the wealth of God.