For four year old Janelle Leo, it’s the simple and meaningful acts of kindness that inspire her to live life each day.
Janelle Leo is only four years old, but she is suffering from Stage Four Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nerve cells. Since her condition was diagnosed in mid-2009, Janelle has undergone a total of seven painful chemotherapy sessions and a surgery to remove the tumor in her abdomen. Inevitably, Janelle’s appetite was badly affected and her weight plunged drastically. Within a mere couple of months, the four year old weighed 11 kg—half the ideal weight of a child her age.
Her mother, Tan Meow Ling, stopped work temporarily as a full-time teacher in order to take care of Janelle in the hospital 24/7. Together with her husband, Leo Chee Keong, Tan spends every waking moment with Janelle in the ward to take care of all her needs. In the face of a tremendous challenge for a child so young, Janelle tries her best to remain upbeat and cheerful, notwithstanding the many agonizing ordeals she’s had to go through in the hospital.
News of Janelle’s illness was announced in City Harvest Church, the church her parents grew up in, and she herself attends. Since then, church members (who know the family and those who don’t) have been praying for her and showing their support in various ways. Many have visited Janelle’s Facebook account and left encouraging and inspiring messages and notes on her “wall,” as the little girl posts updates about her medical condition and daily treatments online. Others who have paid a visit to Janelle in the intensive care ward bring gifts of toys, balloons and flowers to brighten up her day.
Some have shown their love in more personal ways.
Last year, CHC’s music director David Yem and creative director Gan KC were in the midst of production for the album, Writings on the Walls, when they heard the news from Leo (who plays in the brass section of CHC’s band). At the hospital, Yem and Gan were so moved by their experience with Janelle and her family that they penned a song specially for her.
Gan shares, “No words can adequately describe how we felt when we saw the struggles that Janelle and her family have to go through each day. We wrote the song to let them know that as her church, her friends and her family, we are standing together and believing God for her complete healing. While there is nothing humanly possible left to do, we hope it will remind people to say a prayer for Janelle every time this song is sung or played.”
Yem added, “The song ‘For Janelle (Whom Jesus Loves)’ will remind Janelle that she has a Daddy God in heaven Who loves her very much and holds her tight each time she hurts or feels sad.”
Local film director, Royston Tan, also came forward to do something special for Janelle. Tan is currently doing a TV film featuring the courage of cancer patients. He was introduced to Janelle and a firm friendship was forged between them. Janelle has been very excited and eagerly looking forward to being part of the film. However, in days leading up to the shoot, her condition took a rough turn as she developed a high fever of 41 degrees.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF LEO CHEE KEONG AND CAROL LEE
Tan had to make a tough decision to relieve Janelle of her role in the film as a 14-hour shoot would be too grueling for her. Tan did, however, take a 30-second footage of Janelle in her ward while she was still having fever to cheer her on.
Janelle is scheduled for her autologous stem cell transplant on Tuesday, Mar. 16. She will be given high dosages of chemotherapy, followed by total body irradiation. The medical professionals are recommending this move in hope of eradicating all the bacteria and cancer in Janelle. Her own stem cells which were harvested previously would then be infused into her body to help generate new and healthy cells. This would increase Janelle’s survival to 40 percent instead of just 20 percent.
We would like to ask all who read this article to stand together with the family and pray intensively for Janelle over the next few days. Janelle is currently in the hospital due to fungal infection. Her temperature has been spiking for the past few days. Pray that her body will recover quickly and she can proceed to have her autologous stem cell transplant as scheduled. Pray also that Janelle will be strong enough to receive the treatment and that she will respond favorably and her condition will improve in time to come.