The Singapore Health Inspirational Patient and Caregiver Awards is an annual award which honours individuals for their strength, courage and resilience in the face of healthcare challenges. It is also a platform to recognise outstanding patient support groups that have provided invaluable support to our patients and caregivers.
The Revival Connection (TRC) is a support group set up for patients with advanced or recurrent cancer who often have different needs and concerns from early-stage cancer patients. For example, many of them would find introductory talks on cancer and treatment options not as relevant as they are coping with different uncertainties and treatment complications. That is where TRC, which focuses on living well with cancer, comes in.
“What’s different about this support group is that it’s led by the patients themselves,” explains Dr Gilbert Fan, Master Medical Social Worker, who played an important role in setting up the support group. “As they understand the struggles and concerns best, members have full autonomy to develop the programmes that cater to those needs.”
Formed in 2005, the idea to start TRC was initiated by a group of ten patients who had advanced stage ovarian and breast cancers. The group met in 2004 at the annual EnReach Retreat organised by the National Cancer Centre Singapore for patients and their loved ones.
Ms Lam Lai Ore, 63, Volunteer Programme Leader and founding member of TRC, recounts, “We were already meeting quite frequently, so we thought, why not take it further and reach out to others like us?”
In addition to the bi-monthly meetings where inspirational talks and peer support sessions are held, the group also has a visitation programme where members befriend patients who are newly diagnosed with advanced cancers, in the hospital or at home. The group also organises yearly outings to local attractions for members to have fun and bond.
“During our outings, people can’t tell that we’re cancer patients because we’re always laughing and look so full of life,” says Mrs Jade Koh, who has been a TRC member since 2017.
It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses though; members deal with challenges and complications from their cancer. Caregivers also face stress and anxiety giving support, preparing specific diets and being on the receiving end of mood swings from time to time. The group has also seen members pass on due to cancer. During such difficult times, they try to remain steadfast and positive, true to TRC’s motto ‘Where There’s Life, There’s Hope’.
“My friends who founded TRC with me are no longer around. When life has more downs than ups, you have to choose to look at it positively. The more downs you have, the more thankful and appreciative you are for the ups,” says Lai Ore, who has been battling cancer since 2004.
“Like a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly, our support group is all about celebrating life and embracing change,”
Ms Lam Lai Ore, Volunteer Programme Leader
Moving forward, the group hopes to help more patients to live life to the fullest in spite of future uncertainties.