Facebook user Brian Anthony Thomas shared an appeal on Facebook to raise close to S$1.7 million after his eight-year-old son Thaddeus was diagnosed with high-risk Neuroblastoma (NB) last October.
Mount Elizabeth Hospital's website describes NB as a common childhood cancer which is usually aggressive and leads to life-threatening consequences if left untreated in most cases.
The common treatment options of high-risk NB include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation and radiation therapy.
Thaddeus' cancer diagnosis
The link to the fundraising site provided by Thomas said that Thaddeus was diagnosed about a month after first exhibiting symptoms in 2021.
He had persistent fever episodes that began in September 2021, and had difficulty walking and complained of severe pain in his chest and lower body a month later.
A visit to the emergency department at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) showed some abnormalities in an X-ray.
Thaddeus was diagnosed after further tests showed a tumour in his abdomen that traversed to his chest, and that it had metastasised to his bone marrow and bones.
Despite having to go through "two-hour long MRIs without general anaesthesia, enduring a 13-hour long surgery, bone marrow aspirations, blood tests, multiple scans and countless procedures involving needles and tubes in his chest and down his throat", Thomas says that his son has maintained his positivity and toughness.
The ongoing battle
Thaddeus continues to undergo treatment despite completing six cycles of chemotherapy and going through tumour removal surgery. He is currently in the midst of five rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and makes weekly hospital visits to monitor his condition.
He still needs to undergo a stem cell transplant with high dose chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy and maintenance therapy consisting of a series of injections, the latter of which he has to receive overseas.
The bulk of the treatment costs, detailed in a publicly viewable Google Document, stems from the use of a drug commercially known as Naxitamab.
The immunotherapy treatment was granted accelerated approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020 for high-risk NB in bone or bone marrow.
A screenshot of an email from Singhealth sent to Thaddeus' family mentioned the cost of Naxitamab to be approximately $42,000 per vial.
As Thaddeus "will need six vials per cycle", they estimate that the five cycles of treatment required will cost $1.26 million, excluding other medication and hospitalisation fees.
While it was not specified in the screenshot whether this sum is in Singapore or U.S. dollars, it is likely that it is in SGD, considering that the immunotherapy treatment makes up the bulk of the S$1.7 million target.
Over 1,000 people have contributed so far
As donations go directly to a bank account jointly managed by the boy's parents, they have pledged to ensure that "bank statements, funding and expenditure will be accounted for by a third party and made accessible in a Google Drive for public viewing".
According to the website, S$401,803.79, or slightly over 23 per cent of the target amount of S$1,698,450 has been raised at time of writing. Over 1000 donors, including four who made donations of S$10,000 each, have contributed.
The family has shared that they will "help children with cancer and/or to further the research related to childhood cancer, particularly Neuroblastoma" in the event that they have any excess funds.
If you wish to donate, you may do so at this link.
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Top photos by Brian Anthony Thomas.