Gemma Foo ruptured her spleen while training. She tells Jared Ng how her faith helped her during that time.

“Take away this feeling of lousiness,” Gemma Foo prayed to God as she lay in hospital with a ruptured spleen.

The para-equestrian, a parishioner of the Church of the Holy Spirit, fell off her horse during a training session in Cologne, Germany, on Easter Sunday.

Her horse, Cassis, was startled by a loud noise and ran, causing the 20-year-old to fall off.

Her one fear as she lay in great pain in the hospital in Cologne, was that she would not be able to compete in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in September. This was a concern that she brought to God in prayer, she told CatholicNews in Singapore after her operation in Germany.

“There was a small chapel in the hospital where patients could go and pray,” she recalled, adding that she visited the chapel a few times during her 10-day stay in the hospital.

Nevertheless, “faith is an important part of my life and I trust God and His plan. He wants me to continue horse riding,” she said.

Gemma shared that she has had “worse falls before but this one left me with a sharp pain near the bottom of my ribs”.

Her mother, Mrs Jacqueline Foo, decided to admit her to hospital after seeing that a bulge had developed near her left abdomen.

“The doctor came to me and said that her spleen had ruptured,” recalled Mrs Foo. “I was so shocked. He said if we had arrived about an hour later it probably would have been too late.”

Gemma was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth – a condition that impairs muscle movements and makes processing information difficult at times.

She took up horse rising as a form of physiotherapy to help her with balance and coordination.

Now, although she still feels pain in the abdomen area after the accident, she says she is determined to return to Germany to start training again.

“We plan to fly back in July so I can get re-accustomed to Cassis,” she said.

As part of her recovery, Gemma does daily body twists and stretches to keep her body “supple and mobile”. She also visits her physiotherapist at least once a week.

The former CHIJ St Theresa Convent student is currently doing her diploma in mass communications at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) and shared that she hopes to be a novel writer or sports journalist for horseback riding in the future.

Gemma took part in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. In an interview with CatholicNews then, she shared that “Everything [God] does is not without reason; even the fact that He made me this way.”

By Jared Ng
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