When he was growing up, Le Hieu Hien had one dream in life, to become an army officer.
Le Hieu Hien receives a certificate of merit for his excellent performance at school. VNA/VNS Photo
But after developing bone cancer and losing a leg at the age of just 17, Hien knew his dream would never be achieved.
“It was a real nightmare for me when the doctors told me to cut one leg to keep me alive,” Hien said.
“I will never forget my feeling when waking up with only one leg left after the surgery.”
Late last year, Hien started getting pains in his leg and went to see a specialist who delivered the news no young men want to hear. He had cancer.
Months of chemotherapy weren’t enough to save his right leg and doctors had no choice but to amputate it to stop the tumours from spreading further.
But despite suffering constant pain and having to undergo relentless treatment, which caused hair loss, saw him lose weight and suffer with his memory, Hien didn’t let it get in the way of his studies.
His dreams of becoming an army officer might have faded, but Hien had a new goal, and he wasn’t about to let anything stand in his way.
“I need to choose a more suitable path for my health, so I choose the IT field,” said the 18-year-old, who lost his father when he was young.
“Da Nang University of Technology will be my goal.”
And that’s where he hopes to be heading in August, tossing his disability aside in pursuit of education and eventually a better life for him, his mother and two siblings.
He said: “Without a leg, crutches could help me balance my body. But regaining the balance in my mind and accepting the truth for the rest of your life was not easy,” he said.
“I have been trying to keep my balance by learning well to get a place at the university.”
Hien's efforts received support and praise from teachers and students at his school in Binh Son district in central Quang Ngai province.
Pham Van Thanh, a 12th-grader at Van Tuong High School said Hien was a shining example and a pupil to be admired.
Like all his classmates, he hopes Hien will successfully pass his entrance exams for university.
“The illness has taken one of his legs, but he doesn’t lose his hope and study to make his dream come true,” he said.
“I wish he will get a good result in the coming university entrance exam,” he said.
Principal of the school Ngo Ngoc Lam said that Hien was one of the best students of the school.
Lam said: “He could keep up with friends only after a short time although he was absent from school to treat his illness. This is the foundation for him to do the important exam ahead.”
Hien’s childhood dream of becoming an officer in the army may well have changed, but this teenager will not let his disability stand in the way of fulfilling his ultimate goal to create a better life for all around him.