story amos shuiyen

Dr Soh Shui Yen

KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Since my medical school days, I have been fascinated with the subject of oncology, in particular brain and solid tumours in children. Such tumours are notoriously difficult to manage and complex to treat. A huge team is involved, which means that plenty of coordination is required. The success rate is relatively low and definitely worse than childhood leukaemia.

I am motivated to help, as a doctor and as a researcher, these young cancer patients with brain and solid tumours as so much more can be done for them. It is my dream to aid in the development of better treatment and hence better outcome for children with cancer. The treatment needs to be less toxic with milder and fewer side effects, and more importantly, affordable too. Breakthroughs in research can definitely help with that.

As a doctor overseeing my patients, their safety and wellbeing are my priority. Every step along the way of treatment, I strive to have my patients’ best interests at heart, guide the treatment process, communicate and explain options, and also to provide encouragement and comfort along the way.

The greatest challenge of brain and solid tumours would be to get funding and support for treatment and research. They are considered a rare disease, as each of the brain and solid tumour has its own unique profile and hence requires a different type of treatment. We are extremely fortunate that VIVA is very supportive of our efforts to improve research, education and clinical care of these cancers.


Our impact in helping children with cancer is still rather limited, as childhood tumours require cutting-edge treatments that are experimental or require immense financial support.



Dr Amos Loh

KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital

Paediatric surgical oncology was a late discovery for me. I was already a trainee at a local hospital before I stumbled upon it. It was an unpopular field with an abyss of undiscovered knowledge and unanswered questions. I had always been eager to apply my work as a doctor and a researcher where needs from patients were greatest. So I jumped right in.

There were numerous memorable incidents and poignant moments throughout the course of my work. I could vividly remember this boy who had a relapsed Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma – a cancer of nerve cells. He came to remove the tumour in his belly, which had grown back aggressively despite treatment. Surgery was difficult and prolonged. Due to complications, his stay in the hospital dragged on for weeks straight into the holiday season. Despite the painful daily procedures that I performed for him, he always had a smile for everyone.

His chances at surviving the relapse were slim. This might well be his last Christmas. Not one to be expressive with my feelings, I finally plucked up the courage, bought him a little toy and sheepishly handed it to him while on duty on Christmas eve. I would never forget the look on his face when he awoke on Christmas morning to open the gift and play with it. He was discharged soon after, but also passed away not long thereafter. Alas, he was one of those that left a strong impression on me and made me more determined to make a difference.

Our impact in helping children with cancer is still rather limited, as childhood tumours require cutting-edge treatments that are experimental or require immense financial support. Traditional funding sources, such as pharmaceutical organisations and national bodies, are also disinterested to fund endeavours of little economic returns.

I believe VIVA understands that the lives of this handful of young patients cannot be simply quantified in dollars and cents, and that they deserve every chance at life. Its strong partnership with the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the regional networks forged through the St. Jude-VIVA Forum, has afforded us avenues to bring our impact to a larger group of children with cancer in Asia.