Life has come full-circle for Surrey nurse Pauline Kong.
As a girl, she fell seriously ill with a ruptured appendix, and landed in a local hospital’s intensive-care unit (ICU). She survived the ordeal, which made her want to become a nurse later in life – “to give back,” as she puts it.
Early this decade, while working in the ICU at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Kong discovered a love of performing magic, and brought that passion to work.
“Some patients are lonely and sad, and some don’t have people who come visit them,” Kong explained. “I went to the night market one night and saw a magician there, and I asked him to teach me magic, and I spent the next two years learning from him, so I could use some of those tricks for the patients, to brighten their mood.”
The tricks worked, said Kong, who then took her magic act to local stages, mostly for fundraising purposes.
On April 8, Kong is producing a Vegas-style event called “FATE 2: The Dance and Illusions of Oslen,” a benefit for the ICU department at the hospital where she works.
The goal is to raise $10,000 for the cause, and Kong said Monday that the show, which is set to play the 1,000-seat theatre at River Rock Casino Resort, is nearly sold-out.
In a related effort, she launched a GoFundMe campaign, called “Magic Show for Surrey Hospital ICU,” with a goal of generating an additional $30,000. A video posted on the fundraising website dramatizes the time Kong landed in hospital as a six-year-old, and her memories of a nurse’s soothing, reassuring voice.
“Thankfully I survived and got better, however I was very weak, and suffered from self-esteem and confidence issues due to my (surgical) scar,” Kong says in the video. “To this day those memories remain very vivid to me. Because of this, every birthday I try to do something to give back to the community.”
The first “FATE” benefit event was held at a Burnaby theatre in 2014, when close to $10,000 was raised for BC Children’s Hospital, where Kong was admitted as a girl.
For the April 8 show in Richmond, Kong’s Fate Production company has booked Oslen Chang, who has appeared on Canada’s Got Talent, and also Will Tsai, a contestant on America’s Got Talent.
Kong, who will also perform at the event, said she merely moonlights as a magician, and doesn’t treat it as a job. As a career, nursing is her priority.
“I know what the (ICU) feels like as a patient, and that’s how I started in nursing, to give back,” she said. “I got sick and survived and then got into nursing, and then I became a magician through nursing, so it’s all full circle.”
As a nurse, Kong said she often witnesses families struggle when their family members are in ICU.
“Often, all they wish for is one last chance to spend time with their critically ill family member doing something special,” Kong wrote on the Face Production website (fateproduction.com). “It could be one last memory with their elderly parents who raised them, or one special day before their child passes away in their arms. My team and I will try everything we can to grant them their wishes. However, the biggest obstacle to our commitment is the lack of funding. Government funding will only ensure that medical equipment and professional care are readily available, yet it is the community and donor support that can help make these ‘last wishes’ come true for the ICU patients and their families.
“In addition,” Kong continued, “I also want to dedicate this show to my mentor Oslen. His teachings in life, culinary, show production, and magic have helped me grow and shaped who I am today.”