Taylor Swift not complaining about wearing ankle brace after meeting cancer patients here

Dominique Schell (left) and Michelle Liew (right) meet US pop star Taylor Swift backstage at her concert in Singapore.
Dominique Schell (left) and Michelle Liew (right) meet US pop star Taylor Swift backstage at her concert in Singapore.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 to pay off her student loans, every Swiftie knows that Taylor looks out for her fans.

So 19-year-old cancer survivor Dominique Schell reached out to Swift on social media in hopes of getting her to meet cancer-stricken patients at the National University Hospital's cancer ward while she was here for her concerts on Nov 7 and 8.

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

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

But it was not till the eleventh hour - past 11pm on Nov 7 - that Ms Schell got the call from Swift's publicist. While the singer was not be 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.


Miss Dominique Schell (right) and Miss Michelle Liew met Taylor Swift backstage before her concert yesterday. They were offered tickets by Swift's publicist after she read Miss Schell's letter inviting Swift to visit cancer-stricken children in the hospital. TNP PHOTO: NATASHA MEAH

While Ms Schell, who works as a youth ambassador with the Sarah-Grace Sarcoma Foundation (Kick Sarcoma), wanted to bring along one of the patients from NUH, none of them were well enough to attend the concert. Instead she brought along 15-year-old Michelle Liew, who was recently cleared of sarcoma - a rare form of childhood cancer that Ms Schell also had - and a big Taylor Swift fan herself.

They were given front-row seats and also got to meet 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 has metal rods holding her bones together on her left leg and walks with a crutch: "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.'"

According to her, the pop star, who was suffering from a bout of tendinitis and wore a black ankle brace on her left foot throughout the concert, 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 this year, 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 only missed four shows out of the whole world tour," Ms Schell says.

Both girls say they want to be paediatric oncologists when they grow up.

"We've been through it now, so we can actually help kids going through it," says Ms Schell, a University of Melbourne biomedicine student 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 dragon boat in school before her diagnosis and treatment, will be back in school next year.

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