S'pore girl makes cancer appeal to Taylor Swift

S'pore girl makes cancer appeal to Taylor Swift
Miss Dominique Schell, a Swiss national who moved to Singapore from Switzerland in 2008, was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer, sarcoma, in her right leg when she was 10.
PHOTO: Dominique Schell

SINGAPORE - Miss Dominique Schell is a cancer survivor with a passion for helping others like her beat the disease with positive thinking.

And she's hoping US pop star Taylor Swift can be part of that process - by directly reaching out to her idol on social media.

The 19-year-old Swiss national, who moved to Singapore from Switzerland in 2008, was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer, sarcoma, in her right leg when she was 10.

She has been in remission for nine years and continues to go for check-ups at the KK Women's and Children's Hospital every six months.

She has spent the last three years as a youth ambassador with the Sarah-Grace Sarcoma Foundation (Kick Sarcoma), a non-profit organisation that raises awareness for sarcoma, speaking at events to share her story and spread positivity.

For the first time last Friday, she visited the National University Hospital's (NUH) children's cancer ward as part of a new mentoring programme for kids between the ages of six and 15 who are diagnosed with sarcoma.

In an open letter to Swift, posted on Facebook on Wednesday, Miss Schell expressed her hope for the 25-year-old singing sensation to visit the cancer-stricken children at NUH.

Swift is in town this weekend for a two-night sold-out concert as part of her 1989 World Tour at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

She wrote: "Though I'm sure you are one of the busiest bees in the world, I want to invite you to come and meet the children that have inspired so many.

"I can just imagine how big their smiles would be if they were to meet you. Whether they live another month, another year, another decade, you'll have been a glimpse of light during one of the darkest times of their lives. And for that, their families, as well as I, would be eternally grateful."

In the same post, she recalls how inspired she was after having such close contact with the cancer kids at NUH.

She also details her own battle with cancer, writing: "I underwent intense chemotherapy for nine months, lost my hair, stopped practising gymnastics and ballet, and moved into a children's cancer ward back in Switzerland.

"Though I have a walking stick resting next to me, and some metal rods through my leg holding my bone together, I'm lucky to say that I am cancer-free."

Her post has since received over 4,800 "likes" and more than 900 shares.

When contacted, Miss Schell told The New Paper: "I found out Swift was coming a while ago, but didn't think anything of it. I wanted to get (concert) tickets but they were sold out.

"I then went to talk to these children at NUH, and a few days later I came up with the crazy idea of trying to reach her. I know she has made hospital visits and she's a very charitable and kind person who does a lot for her fans... and is known to respond to them... so there's a very small chance."

Miss Schell is unaware if her post has reached the attention of Swift's management, but the positive feedback and support she has received from her friends and family is more than enough.


She said: "I know it's a long shot but if I can get to her through this letter, it would be absolutely incredible. Regardless, through sharing this open letter through Facebook, people are learning about sarcoma and childhood cancer, two subjects that people don't know nearly enough about. It's raising awareness and that is equally important."

Miss Schell, a former student of the French School Of Singapore and Tanglin Trust School, studied medicine at the University of Melbourne for only two months this year before she was forced to take a year off due to ongoing health problems not related to sarcoma. She hopes to return next February.

Dr Grace Moshi, 53, founder of the Sarah-Grace Sarcoma Foundation and a sarcoma survivor, told TNP: "What Dominique is doing is absolutely fantastic. I'm sure the kids will be so happy."

Dr Chetan Dhamne, a consultant of pediatric oncology at NUH, added: "NUH always welcomes celebrities to visit these kids as they feel excited to meet their idols. They feel encouraged by the celebrities' words."

According to him, Hong Kong action superstar Jackie Chan and US pop star Beyonce have visited NUH's children's cancer ward when they were in town over the years.

Dr Chetan said: "Dominique is such a positive influence on the kids and she really helps them have the spirit to fight the cancer when they are feeling low."

This article was first published on Nov 6, 2015.
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