Over $1 million raised at overnight relay run in support of fight against cancer

Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Grace Fu (second from left) cheering with other participants at the Singapore Cancer Society's TalkMed Relay For Life, which raised over $1 million.
Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Grace Fu (second from left) cheering with other participants at the Singapore Cancer Society's TalkMed Relay For Life, which raised over $1 million.PHOTO: PORTRAIT FROM THE HEART

SINGAPORE - Actress Bridget Fernandez's family went through a traumatic time in late 2014 when they learnt that her elder brother had liver cancer with just months to live.

They also had to go through a "humbling" experience in navigating and understanding the difficult process of care giving and getting subsidies to afford his cancer treatments, though they received the guidance and help from the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS).

"You usually only hear wonderful things and don't hear the struggles. The SCS helped us through dealing with the reality of helping a loved one with cancer," she told The Straits Times.

So on Sunday (March 3), three years after her brother's death, Ms Fernandez, 54, joined around 7,000 others in an overnight relay run in support of the fight against cancer - which raised over $1 million in funds, and attracted more participants this year.

"He was my role model. My big brother's memory inspires me to this day," Ms Fernandez said, speaking about her brother, who was in his 60s when he died.

"When I was there at the relay today, I realised that it nearly coincided with his death anniversary in February almost three years ago. I felt like my brother was encouraging me to do a bit more."

The relay was this year's Singapore Cancer Society's (SCS) TalkMed Relay For Life.

This was the event's third edition, and set a new record in the Singapore Book of Records for the longest distance (14,849.2km) covered by a group of runners in six hours.

The relay had a total of 208 teams taking part in the 100km challenge - almost double last year's number.

Participants walked and ran from dusk to dawn alongside cancer survivors and caregivers, in a bid to raise funds, provide encouragement to those impacted by the disease, and raise awareness of cancer and its impact on lives.

The $1 million raised - outstripping the $830,000 raised last year - will go towards funding the programmes and services run by SCS to serve the cancer community.

Some of the society's initiatives include providing patient care services to needy cancer patients through its welfare, hospice home care, cancer treatment subsidy and rehabilitation support programmes.

Gracing the event on Sunday was Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Grace Fu, who made the last lap around the track with cancer survivors.

President Halimah Yacob, who flagged off the event on Saturday, also joined the cancer survivors in one lap around the National Stadium and penned a message of support at the event.

Also lending their support to the event were Mediacorp stars Pan Ling Ling, Kym Ng, He Ying Ying and Aileen Tan, who made special appearances.

Dr Ang Peng Tiam, executive director and CEO of TalkMed Group, which was the title sponsor for the relay, said the Group's participation in the relay was an important way to show support for cancer patients.

"A relay is a good metaphor for a cancer patient's journey," said Mr Ang.

"It is also our philosophy - we pull together different specialists and medical personnel, we work together with patients and their family. We finish the race, together."

Mr Albert Ching, CEO of the SCS, said the overnight run concept shows that cancer never sleeps and that the fight against cancer never stops.

"We hope that through such initiatives, we deepen our engagements with the community and empower them to step up and take tangible actions to prevent and fight against cancer," he added.