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Message from BTSS President, Melissa Lim

Dear BTSS Family,

About this time last year, we abruptly cancelled our Chinese New Year support group meeting and customary “Lohei”. In addition, our 6th Founder’s Day celebration scheduled in March 2020 and Brainy Car Rally in Nov 2020 were scrapped.

In response, BTSS very quickly instituted our ZOOM support group meetings under the leadership of committee member, Peter Koh. With the assistance of volunteers Katherine Chin and William Seah, our Support Group Team has been able to reach out to many new members and refer them to receive practical assistance through BTSS counselling and welfare programmes.

BTSS worked closely with NCSS to distribute COVID-19 care packages and masks donated by thoughtful members of our community.  We also moved our Medical Talks online, covering topics like ‘Brain Tumours and COVID-19’ and ‘Side Effects of BT Treatments’.  To maintain engagement with our community, we started BTSS Birthday Blessings under the leadership of committee member, Nam, who is assisted by volunteer William Seah.

With our Fund Raising severely affected by the pandemic, BTSS launched a digital campaign based on the inspiring life story of our committee member, Shawn Low, on Facebook and YouTube. The funds raised are still modest and we appreciate your kind support to share our campaign and donate generously towards our establishment and programmes.

Several community events were facilitated through ZOOM. Towards the end of 2020, we were able to resume small group events such as the local tours while our youths also organised 2 small group outings. We are planning to organise some interesting small group events in March 2021 in celebration of our 7th Founder’s Day. Watch out for more details!

The greatest impact of COVID-19 restrictions has been on those who are newly diagnosed, those undergoing active treatments and facing relapses. Thanks to BTSS WhatsApp groups, these members have been able to receive peer support in their toughest times. To encourage and facilitate even more discussion and interaction, BTSS will activate a BTSS Facebook Community Group in April 2021.

Behind the scenes in 2020, BTSS Senior Manager, Jackie Lee, had been busy working with the EXCO to set-up our financial and governance systems. Jackie has requested to step down as an employee of BTSS on 28 Feb 2021 to focus her attention on her family. Thankfully, Jackie will remain with BTSS as an EXCO member. The EXCO has decided to split her portfolio between 2 new executives. Ms Crystal Tan is currently on a WSG Career Trial with us and will join as a Finance and Governance Executive on a part-time work arrangement in March. Our new Programme Executive, Ms Janie Joseph, will join BTSS full-time on 15 March 2021. In a nutshell, Crystal will process all members’ grant applications and claims while Janie will be point of liaison for members, volunteers and partners for BTSS online and in-person events and programmes.

The mission of BTSS has always been ‘Connecting to Befriend, Enable and Empower’ so that we can walk with every brain tumour patient and family at every stage of their brain tumour journey. With increased manpower capacity, BTSS is looking forward to adding more value to our members and supporters through better outreach and governance.

In closing, although it was a challenging disease that has brought us together, we have built a meaningful   supportive community that has been conferred the Inspirational Patient Group Award by Singapore Health in 2020. Indeed, having a brain tumour does not limit our capacities to live life well, as many in our community have shown from their inspiring examples. I encourage our amazing BTSS community to grow in our core values of Benevolence, Thoughtfulness, Spiritedness and Service to be more and do more for ourselves, our families, our community and country.

 

 

 

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Terrarium Making Workshop

7 of our beneficiaries discovered the crafty side of them on 23 January 2021 as they took part in a terrarium making workshop brought to us by the cool guys from Project terrAIDrium.  Darrel and Bryan, our instructors, explained the hows and whys of creating a mini garden in a container to our eagle-eyed participants.  The friendly dispositions of the instructors helped our participants warmed up to each other quickly, and within an hour, all completed their personal terrariums!  Everyone was pleased with their special editions.  Special thanks to Darrel and Bryan for supporting charities with terrarium making!

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Youths at Play @ Playnation

After their first outing as a group, our BTSS youths powered up and organised a second outing on 28 December 2020.  This time, they decided on an afternoon of gaming at Playnation @ Scape in Orchard.  The 10 youths split into 2 groups and met up at Orchard MRT before proceeding to the gaming haven where you could indulge in electronic games, as well as, good old board games.

One of the participants Qin Han shared the following :

“The afternoon at Playnation was pretty fun . They had a wide selection of games that we enjoyed. The free flow snacks was nice as well. Personally liked Mario kart and Mario party, as more players are able to be involved. Wouldn’t mind coming back again. Their baked rice dishes items aren’t that great. Would suggest eating elsewhere first if possible.”

Let’s hope the COVID19 situation will improve and our youths could organise more activities in 2021!

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Kampong Tour 5 Dec 2020

A nostalgic walk into the days before HDB flats became the standard of housing in Singapore awaited 5 BTSS families on the cherry morning of 5 Dec 2020.  Led by Mr Yap of Let’s Go Tours, we discovered the last surviving kampong in Singapore – Kampong Lorong Buangkok.  This village is smacked in the middle of modern developments but once you enter it, you are greeted with a kind of serene and laidback feel.  Through the 2 hour tour, the engaging Mr Yap fed us with history of the area and offered insights into the villagers’ life while we walked through the village.  To let us immerse in kampong life, we played old school games like zero point and marbles.  For majority of the kids in our tour, it was the first time playing them, and everyone had fun!  To round off the tour, we were invited to a Muslim home and treated to homemade ice pops (the traditional one whereby they are made by tying a rubber band at the end of the plastic bag) – a first for many too!

Despite the social distancing rules we had to observe, I really enjoyed the tour and am so thankful to see the other BTSS families again.

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Youths Day Out

21 November 2020 marked BTSS first youths’ outing at Jewel Changi Airport.  Adhering to the current COVID19 restrictions on social gatherings, the 10 youths were split into 2 groups and led by Qin Han and Leonard.  After meeting up at Changi Airport MRT station, the 2 groups proceeded to the Canopy Park at Jewel.  Canopy Park, as well as, the rest of Jewel, was decked in Christmas decorations which added wondrous festive cheer.  The youths explored the various attractions in Canopy Park in their own groups, and then proceeded for lunch after much walking.  Time passed fast and before long, the youths had to say goodbye to one another.

(We hope this is the first of many more outings for our youths, and we hope they find strength in one another and build lasting friendships.)

 

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Birthday Blessing for Cheryl

 

BTSS celebrated member Cheryl’s birthday today with the delivery of a cake by longtime volunteer Kim and staff Jackie.  We were warmly greeted by Patricia, Cheryl’s sister, who was thankful for us celebrating Cheryl’s 41st birthday.  Cheryl loves being around people and she also loves We Bare Bears!  The room was cheerfully decorated with We Bare Bears’ balloons, posters and sweet treats.  Though she spoke few words, we could feel that Cheryl getting at ease with us as she allowed Kim to pamper her.

The intention was to bless Cheryl with a simple birthday cake, but I left the hospice all toasty and warm.  The extent that Patricia went to make Cheryl’s birthday all about her favourite character showed the bond between the sisters runs deep and strong.  I am reminded that bliss is always there when you look harder.  Thank you Cheryl and Patricia!
~ Jackie

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BTSS Goes Jalan Jalan

As our nation takes steady steps to open up, BTSS would like to invite you to step out and enjoy Singapore!
 
We are organising 3 tours for you and your family to participate (with safety guidelines observed). Each family can choose ONE of the 3 tours available – Kampong, Chinatown or Changi Airport. The tours run for about 2-3 hours in the morning. You can find out more about these tours here:
 
To indicate your interest, please fill in the Google Form provided by this link
https://forms.gle/h1ebYaXQShMS6HFE9 and complete by 11 Nov 2020. Please call/WhatsApp Jackie at 8738-5669 if you have any questions.
Hope to see you all soon!
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BTSS x Solaris Games Day 7 Sep 2020

A group of student volunteers from Hwa Chong Institution turned an otherwise quiet September school holiday fun for our young BTSS members.  On 7 September 2020, 9 of our children participated in a virtual games event specially designed by the volunteers.  Through the games, they went around the world, challenged one another in a “Where’s Wally?” type of hunt and mused over the varied riddles thrown at them.  As an observer of the event, I found myself having fun and felt like a kid all over again.  Big THANK YOU to Ian, Bingyan, Dylan, Wen Yao and Yi Zhong!

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BTSS feature in Singapore Health newspaper

This article appears in the September-October 2020 issue of Singapore Health newspaper, a Singapore General Hospital and SingHealth publication.

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BTSS Celebrates National Day 2020

Not wanting their National Day to quietly slipped away, a group of our young beneficiaries jumped onto the Zoom platform to partake in virtual games organized by our amazing volunteers.  The volunteers brought them through landmarks of Singapore with a guessing game and guided them through a digital drawing session to see who could draw the Merlion best.  More fun ensued when they tried to outwit each other in digital Pictionary.  Though most of the kids were camera and microphone shy, their inhibitions were loosened up through the constant virtual chats, and 2.5 hours went by too quickly.

BIG thank you to our volunteers for making this National Day special for us!

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