Rising above childhood cancer to serve

Sheam Kannan, Childhood Cancer Survivor and CCF Volunteer

Sheam Kannan’s most vivid memories of childhood, unlike most boys, isn’t playing sports or running in the playground with his friends.

Instead, the childhood cancer survivor, who was diagnosed at just three years old, was short and overweight. These were some of the side-effects from the cancer treatment he received for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Although he loved sports such as soccer and badminton, he struggled to keep up with the physical demands of the activities and often felt dejected.

It was only at CCF’s children’s camps that Sheam got to participate in rock climbing and adventurous races, all at a manageable pace he could keep up with.

The friendships he forged there, with other patients and survivors, made him happier and more confident. This sense of community motivates Sheam so much so that at 13 years old, he rounded up a group of cancer survivors, who called themselves the Youth Committee and performed a dance at that year’s Hair for Hope event.

Their friendship has endured over the past decade, and many of the Youth Committee members now attend CCF events as volunteers. Sheam himself has been shaving his head every year since 2005, in support of Hair for Hope.

The Electrical Engineering undergraduate at the National University of Singapore, who was the valedictorian of his cohort when he graduated from Singapore Polytechnic, has set his sights on a career in patient administration. He wants to work in hospitals, to help improve patients’ experience – just as CCF had done for him.

“My parents were lucky to have a great support system in their siblings, friends and CCF,” says the 24-year-old, adding: “I want to continue to make time for volunteering, even after I enter the work force.”

Read more inspiring stories of our CCF stakeholders at https://www.ccf.org.sg/humansofccf/index.html.