Support programmes for child cancer patients launched

Polytechnic student Tan Yi Jun, 20, who survived a rare cancerous chest tumour when he was 12, next to a photograph he took for the Together We Are Stronger art and photo exhibition launched by the Children's Cancer Foundation at Concorde Hotel on Sa
Polytechnic student Tan Yi Jun, 20, who survived a rare cancerous chest tumour when he was 12, next to a photograph he took for the Together We Are Stronger art and photo exhibition launched by the Children's Cancer Foundation at Concorde Hotel on Saturday (Feb 18).ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Two new programmes to provide child cancer patients with support during treatment and beyond were launched on Saturday (Feb 18), in conjunction with the Children's Cancer Foundation's (CCF) 25th anniversary.

The programmes, a collaboration between CCF and KK Women's and Children's Hospital, will provide CCF beneficiaries with resources such as psychosocial support and nutritional care.

Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor made the announcement at Concorde Hotel, where a roving photo and art exhibition featuring the works of childhood cancer survivors and CCF stakeholders was also launched.

Among the 140 children diagnosed with cancer in 2015, the largest group comprised those aged below five, and CCF plays an important role in providing support to them and their families, said Dr Khor.

The voluntary welfare association has served 2,800 children and families since its inception in 1992, through services including therapy, caregiver support and financial assistance.

Polytechnic student Tan Yi Jun, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed at the age of 12 with a rare mediastinal germ cell tumour, which grows in the chest, said that CCF's counselling helped him to cope with school bullies.

Mr Tan, now 20, underwent chemotherapy for six months, followed by an operation to remove the tumour.

"It was quite tough, I vomited almost every day during the treatment. During the operation, they had to cut open my ribcage, and my heart stopped twice," he said.

As the treatment disrupted his studies, he withdrew from the Primary School Leaving Examination and took it the next year. But when he returned to school he was bullied by schoolmates, and the torment persisted through secondary school.

"They would call me cancer boy. Sometimes I took it hard, and the counselling helped," he said.

The interactive and digital media student's photograph of a drain in a cemetery is on display at the Together We Are Stronger exhibition, which will make stops at VivoCity and the National Library branch at Ang Mo Kio, among other locations.

While he is now healthy, Mr Tan regularly volunteers at CCF events such as Hair for Hope to encourage other children who are suffering.

"I know how the kids feel, and I want to help make them feel happy and that they are not alone," he said.