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Martin Duffy is a man who like many here on the islands has been living/visiting Thailand for as long as he can remember. And like many men from the west who choose to make Thailand their full or part time home he has a loving relationship with a Thai girl he met around three and a half years ago. But unlike many full/part time residents on the islands, Martin cannot look forward to a happy future and watching his stepdaughter grow up and blossom with the education he is able to provide for her, those dreams were shattered when he found out he had terminal cancer.
“I have been coming to / living on and off in Thailand, Samui and KPP for God knows how many years now. I have been with my current girlfriend Nueng for about 3.5 yrs. Right now I am sadly home as I was given the awful news I was dreading. I never had a proper chance to even say goodbye to my girls as it was not until I returned to Edinburgh I was given this devastating news, so this makes it even worse.”
When Martin met his girlfriend he also met her little girl Khaimook. He told us “Thai father didn’t hang around for long and he ran off with another woman shortly after Khaimook was born leaving her mother high and dry holding the baby without much money to cope. That was sad enough for her but she soldiered on through it all and has done a great job in bringing up little Khaimook.’ However things were about to get worse when Martin’ girlfriends mother became sick.
With a diagnosis of both Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia, Nueng’s mother needed care twenty four hours a day. Nueng’s only option was to take her mother to a temple in KPP where she pays for her care, leaving her with very little money to take care of her daughter.
Martin stepped in to help when he saw how little money there was for poor little Khaimook, however despite his generosity his girlfriend still insisted on paying her way as well, he said “I help her with everything but she still insists on paying her way as well….she is very insistent on this that she pays as well, so I let her have her wee input to it, but I pay for her mums care.”
As well as taking care of Nueng’s mother Martin likes to help with Khaimooks education “I also help Khaimook go to a lovely boarding school in Phitsanulok.” He said “She LOVES the school and has made many new friends and is doing well in her exams, the latest she scored 96/100 average for ALL subjects so she is a clever little girl too.”
With Mum taken care of and Khaimook excelling herself in school Martin thought the hard times were under control but in 2013 he was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had to have one of his kidneys removed. He recovered well from the operation and once again enjoyed staying with his little family in KPP, visiting Koh Samui for holidays on the beach where Khaimook enjoyed splashing around in the pool and in the sea. However his dreams of a happy future were shattered when the cancer returned aggressively.
Despite the devastating news Martin tried to stay positive. “I took it on the chin and realized that with my positive attitude I could battle on and make the best of a bad situation. Obviously it was heartbreaking news. My girlfriend did not take it was, she has ‘done good’ all her life, she is ALWAYS at the temple even dragging me out at 5am to give the monks food and pray. I am not sure how many monks she prays to but I think it had to be 12, but I do know that during this time she started to doubt her religion, and question what she had done wrong to deserve this as she had never done anything other than good things in her life” He went on “So we got on with it. My doctors told me I could only spend two months at a time in Thailand, there were to be no more long term visits for me, I was so upset to think I could only be with my girls for two months at a time before having to return home for check-ups.”
After one of those check-ups Martin returned to Thailand late last year he said “I was in Thailand from late November until late January and all was great despite the chemo making me very sick and me being in pain I was positive and determined not to give in and let it get me down. We had an ok time but when in Samui for just after Christmas and for New Year I was very sick so we did not really get a chance to fully enjoy it fully but little Khaimook had fun playing…..but she knew daddy was sick and she worried. We made it back to KPP where we finished our time and I came home again.”
On his return Martin went for his check-up and quickly made his way back to Thailand in February. Everything was going fine, although the mother’s illnesses were worsening little Khaimook was loving being in school and thriving with her education. Martin was feeling better, the best he had felt in a long time. With his increased energy levels the family once again came to Koh Samui, a trip designed to eradicate the memories of the previous trip that had been dogged by Martin’s illness. He said “We came back to Samui again for another holiday to try to wipe out the bad memory of our New Years trip. It was great, stayed in N.Chaweng at Briza resort and it was wonderful, everything was great…..apart from my health again…I felt this excruciating pain in my ribs and to cut a long story short we ended our Samui holiday with no problem, but when we got back to Bangkok it got really bad. I was taken seriously ill in a hotel near Suvarnabhumi airport; I was rushed to hospital where all they would give me was morphine. They took an x ray but strangely enough they refused point blank to answer a single question about the x-ray result!! My girlfriend tried to intervene to ask too but to no avail!! All they would do was five me morphine injections until I was ready to leave hospital! I had by now booked a flight home to see my doctors here, I was told to go directly to hospital, and not even to call him home first. So I sent my girls away home telling them I would be ok and only needed some treatment back home so would be back again soon…….well so I thought. It was awful little Khaimook holding my hand stroking it crying her heart out saying please Daddy do not leave khaimook and mummy…truly awful and emotional.”
When Martin returned to the UK he had to face the unimaginable. “I got home and this was when sadly they broke the awful news that the cancer was so bad and so aggressive there was nothing at all to stop it and that all treatment for the cancer would be stopped immediately to try to let me live the final few weeks of my life in some sort of normality, without the awful pains and side effects of Chemo therapy. This shocked not only me but everyone….none more so than my poor long suffering girlfriend Nueng. She was a broken girl when I told her the awful news….and I mean broken, totally heartbroken and devastated and so much so I had to get friends in KPP to go and watch her and that she doesn’t do anything silly….I was so worried. She has since calmed down and is back to being the strong girl I know and love again. She agreed to be strong for little Khaimook as she needs her mummy too.”
When a good friend back home saw what was happening he decided to help Martin with his wish to see his girls in Thailand taken care of by starting a fund to raise money for Nueng and Khaimook’s education, Martin told us “So it was put to me by a friend about fund page to try to help raise some money to help Nueng to pay for the school for however long we can manage. I do have some savings which I will leave to them but I am not a millionaire…I am just a working class down to earth guy…a tour guide and driver with a company called Rabbies tours for Scotland, where I worked for a few months at a time, saved my money then it was over to Thailand to live and spend time with the family so I do not have mega money sadly.”
Martin never expected to have to ask for others generosity to help his girls he said “I was not wanting to do this as I am too proud usually, but many have persuaded me to do it as it is NOT for me at all…I gain NOTHING whatsoever, any funds we manage to raise will go towards khaimook’s school so she has an education and to help Nueng try manage life in general as it will be awful for her without my help, her life will be very very different indeed so before I die we are just trying to see a little fund raiser for a lovely little Thai girl who is really confused, caught up in this and crying every day as she wants to see daddy again…she is the innocent victim in all this.”
Many of Martins friends around the world want to help, as far away as Canada where a group of guys are organizing a band night, all of the proceeds from the ticket sales will be going to the fund, he has friends in Scotland organizing car boot sales and others have now signed up to the Race for Life, sponsored walks and other are being organized as quickly as possible as time is one thing that Martin does not have, devastatingly his doctors have told him he could have as little as two or three weeks left, at best four or five months.
From Martin’s fundraising page it is easy to see that he is a well thought of genuine guy, he told the Samui Times “I am a very down to earth with no airs or graces about me at all……all I want is the best fir my wee one before I die…I gain nothing at all but happiness in the knowledge that hopefully she will be safe in her education…my girlfriend will be able to manage to care for her mum and live ok…it will not be a lavish lifestyle but they would get by hopefully on what legacy I can leave them for a wee girl in a country I know and love.”
Nueng continues to try to do her best for her mother and her daughter, she has two degrees that landed her a good job as an accountant for the Thai government but Martin fears that her salary of around nine thousands baht a month is simply not enough to give her daughter the education he wants for her. He fears without a decent education she may end up being lured into work in Bangkok, his dying wish is to ensure that never happens.
If you would like to help Martin leave a legacy to his girls please click here to visit his fund raising page.