Very ill but determined to give back
They suffer diseases that can be life-threatening. Yet, when it comes to pushing themselves beyond the limit to raise funds for others who are needy, all three are determined to do so.
She goes for dialysis three times a week.
He has two shunts - one from his brain and the other from his spine - that lead to his stomach.
Yet Diksha Anand, seven, and her brother Satya, 14, are training hard to swim a relay with five other patients from the National University Hospital (NUH) in a 10-hour swimathon to raise money for needy children with kidney failure.
Called HIGH TEN!, the event, organised by the Tanglin Club and the Shaw-NKF-NUH Children's Kidney Centre (CKC), aims to raise $100,000 for CKC and its programmes such as the annual Children's Kidney Camp and Project Dreamcatchers. (See report at right.)
Ten hours was picked because it takes that long for dialysis to be completed.
Both Anand siblings suffer from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). This disease scars and hardens blood vessels within the kidneys.
As a result, large amounts of protein from the blood leak into the urine rather than remaining in the bloodstream, and cause swelling in the patient, said Professor Yap Hui Kim, who heads the Division of Paediatric Nephrology at the National University Hospital (NUH).
Prof Yap said FSGS is a leading cause of kidney failure and one of the more common causes of end-stage renal failure in Singapore children.
The siblings' condition was diagnosed at a young age - when Satya was four and when Diksha was two.
Their mother, Madam Pushpa Anand, 48, said: "Satya had difficulty walking at the age of two, but the doctors could not put their finger on the issue until he turned four. That was when tests showed he had FSGS."
Treatments for FSGS include steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs, such as cyclosporine, but they caused Satya to develop intracranial hypertension, where the pressure within the skull builds up and gets too high.
Mrs Anand said: "He was five when he had a shunt put in from his brain to his peritoneal cavity (abdomen) to drain the water and relieve the pressure."
Satya said: "But I still get the occasional headaches and they are so painful I cannot eat or function."
His second shunt was installed when he was 12 to relieve pressure from his spine.
Mrs Anand said: "With the experience we had with Satya, we were able to cope better with Diksha."
Unfortunately, Diksha's condition deteriorated. Her creatininelevel went up and there was fluid retention. Because of that, she had to start haemodialysis in December last year and peritoneal dialysis in February this year.
Despite their condition, Diksha and Satya remain active. Diksha does wushu and Satya plays football with friends in the neighbourhood. They also play musical instruments.
The siblings were adamant about taking part in the 10-hour swimathon at Tanglin Club on July 9 and are training every weekend.
Their parents, who are both in the legal industry, will be on standby to ensure that Diksha's catheter site is well protected and that Satya's shunts are not compromised during the event.
"While we can afford the treatments and take them on holidays, there are children who are not so fortunate. I want my kids to learn that even though they are sick, they are still fortunate," Mrs Anand said.
Raising funds for others to survive
She was cleared of cancer only at the end of last year.
Two months later, commercial manager Gale Ng, 32, started training for the Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society Race Against Cancer.
She started rebuilding her strength, first by going for daily brisk walks, then 5km runs, progressing to 10km and 15km.
"I didn't know if I was doing the right thing. I had just recovered, yet I was pushing my body to the limit. My husband and mother-in-law were very loving and supportive so I felt bad because what if I was wrong?" she told The New Paper.
Ms Ng was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in July 2014 and went through chemotherapy until May last year.
"It was a wake-up call as I have always taken my health for granted and led a sedentary life," she said.
"But having struggled with the high expenses of cancer treatment, I know how difficult it is. So, I want to help others who are facing the same predicament and not have the means to pay."
Her treatment almost wiped her out financially.
She paid $80,000 for six cycles of chemotherapy, followed by six more months of maintenance chemotherapy.
Counting herself blessed, she decided to run the race on Sunday to raise funds for needy cancer patients.
"Cancer treatment is expensive and for anyone to make a life-and-death decision because of finances is heartbreaking. I knew how it felt because I was at that level too. As much as I have the will to live, I cannot deny the fact that without money I would have died if I could not afford treatment," she said.
About 35 new cases of cancer are diagnosed every day.
If a Singapore cancer patient runs out of funds halfway through treatment, he or she can seek the option of going to one of the government restructured hospitals for treatment.
Standard medication is available at heavily subsidised rates. In the case of non-standard items, such as targeted agents against specific cancer genes, patients can often get financial aid through the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS).
Ms Ng's cancer is now "technically in remission", making her comfortable to take to the road to help raise funds for SCS.
Having overcome her cancer to be fit and run the race, Ms Ng is also sponsored by the Friends of Soleus programme which identifies and sponsors Singaporean runners who have persevered through overwhelming odds to be fit.
At first, Ms Ng planned to run the race alone, but her husband, Mr Ryan Toh, also 32, who works in the mining industry, decided to run with her.
"Throughout the healing journey, people think that it's only the cancer patient who suffers. Not true. Our loved ones also suffer. I am thankful my husband and in-laws stood by me in my time of need," she said.
In 2014, the Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society Race Against Cancer raised $1 million , but the race was cancelled last year due to the haze.
For anyone to make a life-and- death decision because of finances is heart-breaking.
- Ms Gale Ng
The events, the charities
The Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) Race Against Cancer
Launched in 2008, the race returns for the eighth time with two competitive categories - the 10km and 15km Competitive Runs and a 5km Fun Run.
Where: East Coast Park, Angsana Green
Goal: $1 million for cancer programmes and services
How to participate or donate: Registration for the race has closed. You may donate through Ms Gale Ng's fundraising platform at Give Asia:
Or donate at the Singapore Cancer Society's donation link: http://www.singaporecancersociety.org.sg/get-involved/donate.html
A 10-hour swimathon, organised by Tanglin Club and National University Hospital (NUH).
When: Saturday, July 9
Where: Tanglin Club Swimming Pool
Goal: $100,000 for NUH programmes such as Children's Kidney Camp, and Project Dreamcatchers.
How to donate: Donations should be made out to the National University of Singapore, with Tanglin Club/Children's Kidney Centre written on the back of the cheque.
The Children's Kidney Camp, a sleepover held yearly, was mooted by Prof Yap Hui Kim, the head of the Division of Paediatric Nephrology at NUH.
It enables children with kidney conditions to take responsibility for their own health care including medications and dialysis, and to promote activities that will improve self-esteem and leadership qualities.
Project Dreamcatchers is a teens chronic illness peer support group, made up of a group of adolescents living with various forms of childhood chronic illnesses.
Seven patients with chronic diseases will be taking part in the 10-hour swimathon.