Unsung heroes in the fight against cancer
Case workers and volunteers at Children’s Cancer Foundation offer invaluable support for patients and their families
When Terry Goh went back to school last month with a scar on his neck, the seven-year-old was worried he would be asked about it.
Diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma last year, he had to be operated on to remove tumour cells that could not be killed through chemotherapy.
But Terry's worries were unfounded.
As part of Children's Cancer Foundation's (CCF) Back-to-School service, a CCF case worker had earlier engaged the Primary 2 pupil's peers on childhood cancer, and what Terry had gone through.
This is just one of the forms of emotional and social support that the CCF, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, provides for its beneficiaries.
With 400 volunteers to date, CCF has helped more than 2,800 children affected by cancer.
On Saturday, two new programmes were launched to provide CCF beneficiaries with support during treatment and beyond.
The programmes are a collaboration between the CCF and KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).
Without the volunteers, I don’t know how we would have gotten by.Madam Irene lim
Terry and his mother Irene Lim, 40, can attest to how important such support can be.
Madam Lim, a stay-home mother, said: "Without the volunteers, I don't know how we would have gotten by. We didn't know what Burkitt's lymphoma was. There were many questions and we didn't know what to do."
The four months after Terry's cancer diagnosis drained Madam Lim emotionally - from anxiously waiting for the results of each scan, to watching her son turn aggressive each time needles were involved.
"He would scream things like 'I hate you'. He has a phobia of needles. It was hurtful, but I knew it wasn't personal. After Daddy comforted him, Terry would apologise," said Madam Lim, adding that she and her husband, who is a despatch driver, took turns to play good cop and bad cop.
Terry, who sat beside Madam Lim during the interview, chimed in: "I don't like needles because they are sharp like knives."
Madam Lim said speaking to the CCF's volunteers and case workers helped her to accept her older son's diagnosis better.
The CCF's family resource centre at KKH - there is another one at the National University Hospital - also provided a brief respite from Terry's battle with cancer.
He would interact with the CCF volunteers - called Play Personnels - at the centre.
"He would go there every day and be the first to 'chope' the Wii. He even taught new volunteers how to set up the Wii, and where to put the games," said Madam Lim.
BE A VOLUNTEER
The non-profit organisation is now appealing for more volunteers to fulfil various roles.
"Volunteers play an integral part in helping CCF in the delivery of programmes and services at the hospitals and in the community, said Ms Neo Lay Tin, CCF's executive director.
"On top of their dedication and selfless contributions in time and effort, volunteers bring with them invaluable experience, talent and immense passion for the cause."
Those who are keen to volunteer or make a donation can find out more at www.ccf.org.sg