Melissa Lim 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 post operation impact arising from a 16-hour brain operation to remove a 3.5 cm acoustic neuroma. This experience closely echoed the lonely journey she shared earlier with her late mother who had terminal brain cancer.
Upon her recovery, Melissa decided to leverage on 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.