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Ten years ago, I led a fast-paced life. I was an accounts manager for a top trading company, putting in at least 12 hours a day at the office. For three consecutive years, my team had raked in the highest profit and I had received numerous awards. Life was exciting and I was fortunate to have hired help at home. Little did I know that I would lose it all in the next few months.

It happened after a business trip to China. I developed a persistent back pain and a low grade fever at night. I thought I was overworked and decided to take some painkillers. When I told my husband about it, he said I probably needed a holiday. He promptly booked a holiday for us both to Bali the next day. In Bali, things got worse, especially at night. I had night sweats and I began coughing. I was so exhausted that I cut short the holiday and flew home.

The next day, I could hardly get out of bed. My family doctor advised me to take an X-ray. To my utter dismay, the X-rays revealed that I had tuberculosis (TB) ! He put me on a regimen of 20 tablets a day, containing the usual drugs to fight TB. I soon felt better and everything was back to normal. However, when I returned from my trip to Singapore, I had developed a persistent cough again.

This time, I decided to make an appointment with my friend, Dr Azlin, a consultant chest physician. Another X-ray revealed a fist-size cavity in my lower left lung, caused by a multidrug-resistant strain. My TB was definitely still around. By this time, my weight had dropped to 40 kilos. I could hardly eat anything as the powerful drugs made me sick. I was warned that the treatment would cause nausea, heart palpitations and joint pains. It might also lead to liver problems and blindness. I did not hesitate, as I did not have any choice. I could hardly breathe and a simple conversation was almost impossible.

In the meantime, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my boss, Encik Razman, and we decided that I should hand over my team to my assistant while I recuperate. He was very understanding and kind which made it even more difficult for me. I was used to fighting my way up and we always had heated arguments about our projects. Seeing his sympathy and kindness made me reflect upon the seriousness of my condition. I told him that I wanted to take no-pay leave and he assured me that the job would always be there waiting for me. It was the first time he saw me cry.

I began to think about my job and my accomplishments. I spent a total of four months in bed. During that time, my family and friends could not visit me for fear of infection. I contemplated my future, if I had one. I wanted to die at one point as I had never felt so hopeless. I was slowly losing the battle. Then, my husband bought a journal for me and I began writing again. It was something that I had always wanted to do but did not have the time. I guessed he must have seen the emptiness in my eyes and he desperately wanted to help. One night, when I wanted to go to the toilet, I heard him crying in the study room. It was then that I resolved to get well. I realized that I had put him through so much and he had never once complained to me about the household. When I was better, my children visited me. I missed them more than I realized. A week later, I began painting again, a hobby which I had pursued as a child. I painted and wrote as if I had only weeks to live. My drive and will began to return. I felt better but dared not believe the first negative test results that came back. I had been there before. Finally, after 36 harrowing months, I was declared free of TB. However, the disease had taken its toll on me. It had destroyed 25 per cent of my left lung. Each day, for the next six months, I still had to continue taking the medicine to avoid any relapse.

Finally, a year later, I was pronounced cured. I was finally able to go back to work. A sea of new faces greeted me on that day. I felt insecure but happy to be back. Then, Encik Razman and my team were waiting in my room for me. I was overjoyed that they had maintained the room for me. I cried tears of joy as I hugged my team members.

Although I feel weak and I am constantly on antibiotics, I am enjoying life again. I am thankful for the break that the disease gave me as it had taught me life's lessons. I learnt to appreciate my family and life. I learnt that it is all right to lean back and let others get ahead of me. I learnt that material wealth is nothing compared to health, love and life.

Answer the following questions using complete sentences



From paragraph 1,

(a) according to the writer, what accomplishment can the writer boast of as an accounts manager ?

(b) what does it refer to ?



From paragraph 2, why did her husband book a holiday to Bali ? How do we know that she was still unwell in Bali ?



From paragraph 4, give one example of the seriousness of the writer's condition.



From paragraph 6,

(a) why was the writer unable to receive any visitors ?

(b) give a reason why the writer dared not believe the first negative results that came back.

(c) explain the phrase 'the disease had taken its toll on me'.



From paragraphs 8, give two lessons of life that the writer got from her illness.



Based on the passage given, write a summary

* on the writer's reactions and feelings and

* what she did to deal with the situation


Begin your summary as follows :

The writer had a serious discussion with her boss and ...




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(a) Her team raked in the highest profit / she had won numerous awards.

(b) Her accomplishments / her career



He thought she needed a holiday. She was still coughing and had night sweats.



* She could hardly breathe  * Her weight had dropped drastically * She could infect them. ( Choose any one answer )


(a) They were afraid of being infected.

(b) She had experienced a relapse before.

(c) The sickness had affected her physically.



(a) She learnt to appreciate her family and her life.

(b) She learnt to relax and let others win.


The writer had a serious discussion with her boss and handed over her team to her assistant. she felt bad and wanted to take no-pay leave. His kindness in keeping her job made her cry. During her illness, she thought about her job, her achievement and her bleak future. she felt like dying due to her hopelessness. then, she started writing. She resolved to get well when she happened to see her husband crying. She started painting again and her will to live returned. Although she felt better, she dared not believe the first negative test results of her disease. Finally, she was declared free from tuberculosis after 36 months. However, she had to continue taking her medicine. She was overjoyed when she finally returned to work.


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Comprehension 1


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