Taylor Swift meets cancer survivors

Pop star Taylor Swift (centre) with her fans Dominique Schell (right) and Michelle Liew (far right).
Pop star Taylor Swift (centre) with her fans Dominique Schell (left) and Michelle Liew (right).PHOTO: COURTESY OF MICHELLE LIEW

International pop star Taylor Swift has a reputation for making her fans' wishes come true.

From following their stories on Tumblr and giving them personal words of encouragement to sending a fan US$1,989 (S$2,829) to pay off her student loans, the singer looks out for her fans, as every Swiftie knows.

So, 19-year-old cancer survivor Dominique Schell reached out to Swift on social media in the hope of getting her to meet cancer-stricken patients at the National University Hospital's (NUH) cancer ward while she was here to perform on Saturday and Sunday.

Then, for what seemed like the longest time to Schell, it looked like it was not going to happen.

Her open letter on Facebook on Nov 4 received more than 8,000 likes and 1,800 shares.

The Swiss national, who lives in Singapore, appealed to Swift to visit the children and be "a glimpse of light during one of the darkest times of their lives".

However, it was not till the 11th hour - past 11pm on Saturday - that Ms Schell got a call from Swift's publicist.

While the singer was not able to visit the children, Ms Schell was invited to the second night of the 1989 concert tour at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, along with a guest.

Ms Schell, who works as a youth ambassador for the Sarah-Grace Sarcoma Foundation (Kick Sarcoma), wanted to take along one of the patients from NUH, but none of them was well enough to attend the concert.

Instead, she took 15-year-old Michelle Liew, who was recently cleared of sarcoma - a rare form of childhood cancer that Ms Schell also suffered from - and a big Swift fan herself.

They were given front-row seats and also met Swift before the concert.

"It was completely unexpected, but we found out that they'd kept the meeting a surprise for us. It's just Taylor, you know. She surprises her fans," says Ms Schell.

The girls spent a few minutes with the pop star backstage.

Says Ms Schell, who walks with a crutch and has metal rods holding her bones together on her left leg: "She was impressed with what I had on my leg.

"For a few minutes, she was processing that I have a frame on my leg and things are going into the bone and she said, 'Oh, my god, I haven't seen that before.' "

Swift, 25, had suffered a bout of tendinitis and wore a black ankle brace on her left foot throughout the concert.

According to Ms Schell, the pop star said "I was making such a big deal about it, but look at you guys".

Ms Schell and Michelle also spoke to Swift's mother, Andrea, who travels with her daughter on concert tours.

In April, Swift revealed that her mother was battling cancer.

"We told Andrea to stay strong. She said that she was reacting well to the chemotherapy.

" At the start, she didn't think she'd be able to tour at all, but she's missed only four shows out of the whole world tour," Ms Schell says.

Ms Schell and Michelle say they want to be paediatric oncologists when they grow up.

"We've been through it now, so we can help kids going through it," says Ms Schell, a biomedicine student at the University of Melbourne in Australia, who had to leave school after a month due to a bone infection.

While she has had to take a year off to come to Singapore for treatment, she says: "I'll go back next year and start again."

Similarly, Michelle, a CHIJ Katong Convent student who used to kayak and do dragon boating in school before her diagnosis and treatment, will be back in school next year.

"This whole experience has been amazing," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline 'Swift meets cancer survivors'. Print Edition | Subscribe