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Outpouring of support for single mum with cancer

More than $650k raised after appeal for help on funding website goes viral

IN TIMES OF NEED

Fuelled by social media, an ongoing crowdfunding campaign to help a 46-year-old single mother has picked up steam in the past week.

Ms Tam Chek Ming's story appeared on funding website Giveasia last Wednesday.

In an outpouring of support, more than 6,400 people have raised more than $650,000 as of Friday.

Ms Tam's story tugged at the heartstrings of many, going by the comments left on the site and various social media platforms like Facebook. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2015.

The sole breadwinner, who has a five-year-old son, thought she was done with the disease after several chemotherapy sessions, but it returned aggressively within months of treatment. She is asking for help for the sake of her son, she said.


Cancer patient Tam Chek Ming's story, which appeared on Giveasia, has touched many. The sole breadwinner is asking for help for the sake of her five-year-old son, who she said is "just too young to lose his mum".  PHOTO: GIVEASIA

The page was accompanied by an eight-minute YouTube video interview. Perhaps the most gut-wrenching bit of the clip was that Ms Tam, despite being told by the doctor that she has a low survival rate, showed no sense of self-pity, but turned emotional only when the topic of her son came up.

"He saw me lose my hair, vomit, lying in bed unwell for hours and could not play with him - he could not comprehend or understand the reasons (due to his young age)," she said. "He is my greatest pride and joy."

Ms Tam said she skips meals in order to feed her son proper meals. She lives in a small two-room flat.

"I have sold off everything that I can sell, in order to survive month to month," she said.

While thankful for the subsidies and help she has received from her hospital and the Government so far, she still needs about $139,000 a year for treatment.

"I am appealing out of desperation as I have exhausted all my social connections and charity appeals," she said.

"I need to survive this fight for my life, for at least another few more years in order to stay with my son. He is just too young to lose his mum."

Aside from the Giveasia platform, which crashed initially given the sudden surge in traffic when the story went viral (hashtag #EveryoneAGiver), Ms Tam also received a further $75,000 in donations from other sources.

CRIMINAL MISREPRESENTATION?

If you are a fan of the American television drama series, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, you would have seen its recent episode portraying Singapore.

Titled Cinderella And The Dragon, it involves two American flight attendants who went "missing" in the Republic.

The main bone of contention among many netizens was when the characters discussed Geylang.

Special Agent Clare Segel said the area was the "dark side of paradise". She added that it was an "overcrowded slum with a thriving underworld".

The episode irked the team over at website geekculture.co so much so that it produced a list of 20 mistakes it spotted.

In one example it cited, it made fun of the show's telling of a "Chinese Singapore proverb" that translates to "Where there is a sea, there are pirates".

In another scene of a video, it showed a non-existent "Doosim Road".

The episode was also responsible for a whole rash of humorous videos critiquing the misrepresentations.


The misrepresentation of Singapore in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders has prompted a classy response from the Singapore Tourism Board (above)   PHOTOS: SINGAPORE TOURISM BOARD; 

One of the most popular ones came from prominent Singapore blogger Mr Brown, who claims to be Singapore's "Number One police TV show fan".

"It's not beyond borders," he exclaimed, "it's beyond stupid."

The five-minute clip has been viewed more than 1.1 million times since it was released last Tuesday.

It also prompted a response from the authorities.

The Singapore Tourism Board, in a classy comeback, said in a Facebook post last Thursday: "Hey Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, is this what the 'dark side of paradise' looks like? #VisitSingapore." This was accompanied by a series of well-taken photographs of the Singapore skyline as well as shots of Geylang, Changi Airport and Kampong Glam.

But not everyone was offended by the series. One Facebook user said: "It's a drama series, not a documentary. Take it easy, everyone, and put down your pitchforks!"

SENSELESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

A teenager has become the latest victim of the lure of live streaming senseless acts on social media.

Malachi Hemphill, 13, accidentally killed himself in his bedroom in his home in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to news reports, Malachi was encouraged by his friend to insert a clip containing live rounds into a gun shortly before he discharged the weapon.


The misrepresentation of Singapore in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders has prompted a classy response from the Singapore Tourism Board  as well as humorous comebacks from the likes of blogger Mr Brown (above). PHOTOS: MR BROWN 

His mother Shaniqua Stephens, who heard the gunshot, found her son in a pool of blood.

"As he put the clip in the gun," she said, "that is when the gun went off… My daughter screamed and said, 'Mom turn his phone off!'

"As I proceeded to look at his phone, he was on Instagram Live."

Shortly after the shooting, about 50 of Malachi's friends, who had been tuning in, turned up at his home to check on him.

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Malachi had apparently traded a spare smartphone for a gun just days earlier.

Ms Stephens urged parents to keep an eye on their children's social media accounts.

"Monitor their phones, just monitor your children," she said. "More now than anything."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 23, 2017, with the headline 'Outpouring of support for single mum with cancer'. Print Edition | Subscribe