He was a normal, 13-year-old school going teenager, and a star basketball player. Nickson Yee, student of Mayflower Secondary School, had even qualified for the Singapore Youth Basketball team, when his world of hopes and dreams came crashing down one fateful day...
Singapore boy with leukaemia
In September 2015, Nickson collapsed at home due to high fever. After several tests, doctors diagnosed that he was suffering from an aggressive form of leukaemia called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). It is the most common type of cancer in children. Some signs are:
- Easy bruising or bleeding.
- Petechiae (flat, pinpoint, dark-red spots under the skin caused by bleeding).
- Bone or joint pain.
- Painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin.
- Pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs.
- Weakness, feeling tired, or looking pale.
- Loss of appetite.
Mummy Joey tells theAsianparent, "Initially my hubby and I couldn't accept the news, as he was so young. I remember crying every day after hearing the diagnosis..."
His parents went about seeking medical attention from doctors who had specialised in childhood leukaemia, at both KK Hospital and NUH. The initial treatment involved chemotherapy. In September 2016, his father Melvin Yee's bone marrow cells were harvested and transplanted in the hope of a full recovery. Unfortunately, 3 months later, in November 2016, Nickson suffered a relapse.
His father’s cells were subsequently harvested to support the treatment of his leukaemia, while also searching for a compatible unrelated donor. Joey adds, "Currently we are relying on his daddy's and aunt's (daddy's sister) cells. The leukaemia has been proven to be too strong for daddy's cells though. So we are now banking on his aunt's cells, since so far there has been no match from an unrelated donor. Chances are only 1 in 20,000..."
While looking for a compatible donor, a German drug called Blinatumomab is also required to stabilise Nickson's condition. The drug is super expensive and costs about SGD $220,000; it is infused into the body over a period of one month.
Nickson is insured for the treatments that he is doing in Singapore. However any procedures, blood tests or treatment that his father or aunt undergo in order to harvest their cells etc, are not covered under insurance or Medisave, and have to be paid for in cash.
Also, importantly, doctors in Singapore have now recommended that Nickson seek treatment at Seattle Hospital in USA, for cell therapy, as 2 patients from Singapore have shown full recovery after completing their treatment there.
Unfortunately, the deposit for the Seattle hospital requires a minimum of SGD $700,000, and Nickson's parents don't have the means to support it. His father is the sole breadwinner of the family, and his mother is now a full-time housewife in order to take care of Nickson and his little brother. Nickson's health insurance in Singapore only covers local treatment, and not overseas treatment.
Kindly donate through the Give.Asia page
His parents have now set up a Give.Asia page for Nickson, in the hope of raising money to cover his treatment. Do donate to this cause as the possibility of Nickson recovering through cell therapy is high.
Nickson Yee can no longer attend school, or play his favourite sport, basketball. We hope and pray that this young boy receives proper treatment, and gets well soon.
Also READ: Cancer signs in children
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