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Tribute to Shawn

23 March 2021

A Tribute to Shawn Low, BTSS Committee Member

Dear Shawn

This morning, I missed you and went to our what’s app chat where your motto “Live Life to the Fullest” greeted me. I was greatly comforted to remember how full you had lived your life although you left us too soon.

Many feel sad that your fight against cancer had come to naught. However, when I think about it, the battle for our lives, whether you are a cancer patient or healthy person, is a fight that everyone will eventually lose.  It is therefore a fallacy to hold on to the motto of “Live Life to the Longest” when we cannot control when our time would be up. Perhaps, because of our fear of death, most cancer patients and caregivers tend to focus on delaying the eventual with the goal of “Living Life to the Longest”.

However, as one who works and lives in a community of brain tumour patients, I see the real fight as not overcoming cancer to “Live Life to the Longest”, but overcoming the fear of cancer and death to “Live Life to the Fullest”. Shawn, I am so proud that while you responsibly sought treatments, you never abandoned your life motto. I could tell as every time I interacted with you, you were Full of Gratitude, Hope and Affection.

Gratitude

You were always ready to thank those who helped you. What’s more, you never failed to follow up with an affirmation of the person…. Your voice “wow, I really have to learn from you.” Still rings in my ear and that of others whom you had appreciated.

My mind still holds images of you at our last 2 Brainy Car Rallies. You were undergoing chemotherapy then yet you were determined to champion the projects to bring smiles to our children with brain tumours. You never once complained or asked for a stepped down role. Instead, you were grateful to be able to do something to bring cheer to the children whom you felt so much compassion for.

Hope

You were wise not to hold on to the hope of overcoming cancer as your only anchor but you created hope to look forward to every day. Like enjoying meals with your loved ones and friends, planning a trip out alone on your wheelchair, buying presents and celebrating the birthdays of your dear ones. I fondly recall how you expressed hope to attend my daughter’s wedding even though it would still be a long way off.

As a hopeful patient, you made it a more joyful and meaningful for your family and friends to be with you.  The opposite of hope is despair and patients who are full of despair often make the journeys tough and sad for their caregivers and themselves. This was never you although you had sometimes expressed worry and fear about not being able to recover.

Affection

You had always been generous with your affection, which you especially expressed in your last months. I recall how affectionately you always spoke of Marilyn, and your siblings as we went shopping to help you buy gifts that they would appreciate.

I felt your affection when you insisted on delivering the BTSS Birthday Blessing to me although you were in a wheelchair. I knew that you wanted to express how much you value me. In fact, from my interactions with you, I could see that you were a loyal friend to many and had never hesitated to extend help to those who needed your support.

Shawn, we are full of gratitude to you for touching so many hearts and lives through our four Brain Car Rallies. Thanks to you, BTSS managed to raise the funds we really needed in our early years.

We are grateful that you showed us how to be full of hope. It is not easy for cancer patients to put aside their fears to wake up every morning with a smile and confidence to face the world and embrace life. Shawn, you set the example for us by refusing to step back or be beaten. You fought hard and won the battle to live your best life every day until your very last breath. We are forever indebted to you for your contributions and shining example.

Because we are full of affection for you, it is now painful for us to say goodbye. We miss you dearly and grieve your passing. But we will see you in Heaven one day and until then, when we remember you, we will remember to “Live Life to the Fullest”.

Melissa Lim

Your friend & President, BTSS

PS: I have adopted “Live Life to the Fullest” as my What’s App status to honour the memory of Shawn Low. I urge every person who has been touched by Shawn Low to do likewise till his first month anniversary on 22 April 2021.

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Info on COVID-19 vaccine for brain tumour patients

 

Brain Tumour Patients and COVID-19 Vaccines

To guide brain tumour patients in your vaccination decisions, BTSS medical advisors have compiled the following from reliable sources for your reference. Please note our disclaimer that the information provided is not intended as professional advice specific to your medical conditions. BTSS and our medical advisors will not be responsible for any outcome resulting from your personal vaccination decision.

  • COVID-19 vaccinations will protect our loved ones and allow more activities to resume.
  • All vaccines used in Singapore must comply with WHO guidelines and be approved by the Health Sciences The 2 currently approved vaccines are Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna.
  • The clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have shown them to be effective and acceptably safe.
  • Many international agencies continue to monitor these vaccines on an ongoing basis to ensure their benefits continue to outweigh any risks.
  • Some typical side effects include injection-site reactions (sore arm for example) and generalised symptoms such as ‘flu-like ’illness, headache, chills, fatigue (tiredness), nausea (feeling sick), fever, dizziness, weakness, aching muscles, and rapid heartbeat.
  • These happen shortly after the vaccination and are not associated with more serious or lasting Side effects tend to resolve within a day or two and these types of reactions reflect the normal immune response triggered by the body to the vaccines.
  • Widespread use of the vaccine now suggests that severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are very rare. Anaphylaxis can also be a very rare side effect associated with most other vaccines.
  • Patients who are immunocompromised should hold off receiving the vaccination. These include cancer patients on chemotherapy or immunosuppressive treatment.
  • Patients on surveillance whose tumours are not progressing can receive the COVID-19 vaccine three months after the completion of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • Patients who have undergone curative treatment and are not on immunosuppressive treatment are considered to have immune systems as healthy as any other person without cancer diagnosis and are encouraged to be vaccinated.
  • One should consult your doctor if in doubt of your immune status.
  • Physical distancing measures, masks, face shields, sanitizers and other hygiene measures are still required during the pandemic, including for patients with cancer, and should certainly accompany the vaccination strategies.
  • If you suffer from other chronic medical conditions, please consult your doctor if there are further queries on fitness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information:
https://www.gov.sg/features/covid-19-vaccination

 

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