New group to support brain tumour patients

New group to support brain tumour patients
Thirteen-year-old Dean Tang Yek Seng was one of 20 young brain tumour patients at KKH to get a spin yesterday in a supercar as part of the first Paediatric Brain Tumour Awareness Day.

After losing her mother to brain cancer, Ms Melissa Lim was herself diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, a benign brain tumour.

A 16-hour operation in 2004 removed a large portion of the tumour but left her with double vision and some paralysis on the right side of her face.

The support of friends who had similar experiences helped Ms Lim cope.

Now she wants others to know they are not alone. The Brain Tumour Society (Singapore), of which she is president, was launched officially yesterday.

"I know first-hand how frightening it is to be told you have a brain tumour, how painful and difficult the treatment can be for a patient and the family," said Ms Lim, a corporate trainer in her 40s.

The non-profit organisation aims to raise awareness of the disease and to support patients and caregivers. It holds group meetings every second Saturday of the month at Singapore General Hospital.

In Singapore, about 40 children and 100 adults are diagnosed with malignant brain tumours every year.

"It can be an isolating experience for patients and caregivers, and the challenges can be overwhelming," said Jurong GRC MP David Ong, who is also patron of the society.

He was at the launch at Kallang Leisure Park yesterday, which also marked the first Brain Tumour Awareness Day.

"We need to heighten the awareness of this complex problem and give it more attention."

As part of the Awareness Day, 20 Lamborghini, Maserati and Ferrari cars ferried patients, survivors and caregivers to locations such as Ang Mo Kio Hub and Bishan Junction 8 to hand out information kits on the disease.

Another 20 supercars headed for KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), where the first Paediatric Brain Tumour Awareness Day was held, to highlight the plight of children with the illness.

Some 20 patients aged between seven and 18 were given rides in the cars.

"It helps to have a community that supports and understands what we are going through," said Ms Karen Lai, 48, whose seven-year-old daughter Bianca is a brain tumour survivor.

But her child now suffers from extreme mood swings and sudden tantrums, as well as reduced peripheral vision, after surgery in 2012. "We learn from parents who have gone through similar challenges," Ms Lai said.

calyang@sph.com.sg


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