Melissa founded the Brain Tumour Society (Singapore) or BTSS in 2014 and currently serves as its President.
Her personal mission to help the brain tumour patients and caregivers actually started further back in February 2004 from her first-hand experience as a brain tumour patient. She found herself isolated in her struggle to recover from the 16-hour brain operation which removed a 3.5 cm acoustic neuroma. This experience closely echoed the lonely journey she shared earlier with her late mother who was terminally ill with brain cancer.
Upon her recovery, Melissa decided to leverage upon her personal experiences, both as a patient and caregiver, to bring hope and encouragement to those who are also struggling with brain tumours. She started out as the facilitator and programme manager of the Brain Tumour Support Group, which was an informal support group for patients and caregivers. She established BTSS on 5 Feb 2014 as an official platform to reach out to more patients and offer them more tangible support and services. Under her leadership, BTSS has grown to more than 300 strong in its membership with a wide range of programmes for its diverse community; such as befriending and support services, community bonding events, financial and practical assistance. Under her watch, BTSS has also created more visibility for brain tumour awareness in Singapore. Melissa was recognised for her contributions to BTSS when she was awarded the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient Award in March 2015.
‘Connecting to Befriend, Enable and Empower’, the mission statement that Melissa articulated for BTSS, remains her personal mantra today. Although BTSS has come a long way since its inception, Melissa aspires for much more to be done for the brain tumour community in Singapore, such as greater social acceptance and more meaningful and tangible support from the general public to help brain tumour patients cope and live well with their conditions. With the support and partnership of her EXCO and committee members, staff, volunteers and sponsors, BTSS was conferred the Singapore Health Inspirational Patient Group Award in 2020 in recognition of its patient-centric approach and its comprehensive peer support programmes.
Melissa collaborates in the Singapore Patient Advocacy Network. In addition, she is a member of the International Brain Tumour Alliance and has participated in the IBTA World Summits, as well as their global surveys since 2014. To build capability for patient advocacy in the APAC region, she has set up and is co-leading an informal Asia Pacific Brain Tumour Alliance to connect, nurture and collaborate with patient leaders for the brain tumour cause in Japan, India, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
Melissa is participant of the Union of International Cancer Control Mentoring Programme for the APAC Region and a recipient of UICC 2019 Leadership Development Grant which sponsored her attachment to Cancer Council Australia in Nov 2019. She participated in the Inaugural Duke CORE Roundtable Discussion on Patient Engagement in 2019 and also facilitated a well-received webinar on ‘Leadership for effectiveness and impact’ for the UICC CEO Masterclass in May 2021.
Through her role with the NCD Alliance, Our Views Our Voices Global Advisory Committee, Melissa has been involved in selection of profiles for the NCD Diaries and has participated in the WHO informal consultations, as well as served as moderator for NCD Alliance Regional Consultation for SE Asia and West Pacific for the Global Charter for people living with non-communicable diseases.
Professionally, Melissa specialises in Leadership, Talent Development, Organisational Development and Service Excellence. As a Consultant, Trainer, Facilitator, Coach and Assessor, Melissa has worked with numerous international clients across diverse industries. She is also an Adjunct Lecturer with the NUS Business School.
A/Prof David is a practising neurosurgeon in Singapore, specialising in adult and paediatric brain tumours. He currently serves the Brain Tumour Society (Singapore) as the Vice President.
Through his work as a neurosurgeon, he has witnessed the difficulties and struggles faced by patients and families who have been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was during his fellowship in Toronto, Canada at the renowned Hospital for Sick Children that he realised a significant degree of disparity between the level of social support and care between Singapore and North America. This inspired him to connect with our society President and help establish the BTSS upon his return to Singapore. He hopes that through the Society, issues and challenges faced by such patients can be addressed.
Professionally, he is the Deputy Medical Director at the National Neuroscience Institute , Head and Senior Consultant at the National Neuroscience Institute (TTSH Campus). He also involved in patient care at the Singapore General Hospital Campus and KK women’s and Children’s Hospital. He holds educational appointments as an Associate Professor at the Duke-NUS post-graduate School of Medicine and is a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
David graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland with a degree in medicine in 2000. He then went on to pursue surgical training in neurosurgery. He was accepted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh in 2009. He also holds membership appointments in the International Society of Paediatric Neurosurgery and American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
David is blessed with two daughters Mary Ann and Michela. His wife Ashley has provided a pivotal role in supporting his career and cause to promote awareness for brain tumour patients.
SIOW PENG CHAI
Siow Peng brings to BTSS more than 10 years of experience in financial knowledge, corporate governance and leadership. She has served in non-profits in Humanitarian, Arts and Education, and for-profit organizations in professional services. Siow Peng is a licensed CA and received her education from NTU Singapore (Accountancy) and University of London (Law).
Siow Peng is inspired daily by the strength of human spirit and kindness around her. She spends her free time learning new things, enjoys cycling and plays video games with her two young children.
Ian possesses a robust background in the life sciences, specializing in molecular biology, and has complemented his expertise with a master’s degree in technology management. Accumulating 17 years of invaluable experience in the medical device sector, he currently assumes the role of Business Development Manager, overseeing operations in South East Asia for a prominent US-based company.
Ian is characterized by his unwavering drive, focused approach, results-oriented mindset, and a proactive go-getter attitude. His unique journey includes a personal experience as a patient in the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), where he successfully navigated his recovery.
Armed with a distinctive perspective gained from his own journey as a recovered patient, Ian aspires to contribute meaningfully to the medical field. In his role, he seeks to extend support and guidance to fellow patients and caregivers facing the challenges of navigating through difficult times, leveraging both his professional expertise and personal understanding of the healthcare landscape.
Parita’s journey with BTSS started when she was a caregiver to her husband, Sunil, who was diagnosed with – and passed away from – an aggressive brain tumour in March 2022. She encountered challenges and grief when dealing with his side effects from treatments, as well as the cognitive and physical changes, and eventual loss of life. Through her experience, she hopes to provide support to caregivers of brain tumour patients. She also aims to increase awareness about the unique burden that caregivers and families face when they care for brain cancer patients.She organises the BTSS GBM Caregivers’ Support Group Meetings and is involved in BTSS events for kids. She is also a partner with the NUHS Patient & Family Partners group.
By profession, Parita has 20+ years of experience in Research and Insights. She was formerly Head of Country Research – APAC at a leading market research firm. In 2021, she authored a Sustainability-related Research Whitepaper which won Gold Award, Best Project for News Literacy at the Asian Digital Media Awards, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She has a BA (Joint Hons) in Japanese and Management Studies from Durham University, UK, and a Specialist Diploma in Teaching and Supporting Children with Special Needs from the ACC Institute of Human Services, Singapore. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, eating, listening to music and going to plays and concerts. She also loves to spend time with her young son, go for gentle walks, learn about fine art and watch her favourite shows on Netflix.
Peter is a company director with over 20 years of experience in the instrument and engineering industries. He is a results-oriented leader with proven track record of working collaboratively with team members to achieve goals. With his natural ability to connect easily with people, Peter serves as the facilitator in the monthly support group meetings.