Author: Hakim

Hakim goes by his stage name Magic Bo. He is an emcee and magician.

October 3, 2020

Reflections: When September Ends

And so we had a series of conversation for the last 3 days of September and a whole month of awareness through my social media posting on childhood cancer awareness.

What have I learnt?

Here are a few lessons I have learned along the way through the conversation with the caregivers of Asfa, Chloe & Damien.

1. Cancer does not discriminate (and neither should you)

Childhood cancer is not like cancer in adults. There is no known prevention. Research has shown that it does not discriminate between gender, race, socio-economics, where you live, etc.

When your child is sick, you can often wonder if there was anything you could have done to prevent it. Then there are those well-meaning people who try to comfort you with their opinions as to why it may have happened. I’ve had people say they think it’s immunisations, others say it’s the food.

All I can say is, if you are ever in the horrid position of having a friend or family member who has a child diagnosed with cancer, they don’t need you to solve why it happened. They need love and support. Full stop. They need a shoulder to cry on. Someone to vent to on a bad day. Someone who they feel safe to say when they are scared or don’t know how they are going to get through it. They don’t need people being medical experts and making them feel guilty about what they could have done to prevent their child getting cancer.

2. Children with cancer need blood transfusions throughout their treatment

If there is anything that I can say about the research I have done, I would like to say that or what I want to encourage people to do is, to give blood if you are able. It is something simple and if you can do that really, it does make a huge difference to a child having treatment from cancer.

3. Watching a child battling from cancer will change you indefinitely

That is what I had gathered from the conversations with Azleen, Becky & Michael. If you have ever set foot in an oncology clinic or ward at a children’s hospital, it really does change you. The children look different. They have bald heads, often have a bit of a grey skin tone, some are really skinny or are in wheelchairs, and some have feeding tubes taped to their faces.

However, they are still kids. They just happen to be facing the biggest battle of their lives! They are resilient heroes, little fighters and little warriors who, despite what they are going through, continue to smile. They still sometimes chuck tantrums or cry about having to have a needle or take disgusting medicine, but they are incredible.

I believe Azleen, Becky & Michael as parents, often would feel that they are meant to teach their children about life, and how to live. But in turn these special children taught them a lot watching their children battling cancer. I believe their perspective on life and what is important has been changed through watching their kids battling cancer.

4. Siblings of children with cancer actually suffer more 

In many ways, I feel that the siblings of children with cancer suffer more probably due to the fact that having to watch someone they love go through nasty treatment, get really sick, and be apart from them is so heart wrenching, confusing and scary. They also have to have either Mum or Dad away a lot, spending time at the hospital with the sick child. They see their brother or sister get loads of attention and presents, and can sometimes feel like they wish they were the sick ones. The siblings of sick children are the unsung heroes.

5. Friendships made in hospital binds forever

Being in hospital is isolating and lonely. Treatment can be as short as 9 months to 2-3 years. In the conversation with Azleen, Becky & Michael, they had to spend weeks at a time in hospital. I believed they survived because of the friendships they made in the parents’ room of the children’s ward in KKH and NUH or sharing a room with another family. Those friends become their second family because they often see them more than they meet their actual family!

When you spend your days sitting in a square box of a room, bumping into another mum or dad while making a cuppa and having a quick chat, is your sanity. It’s because you’re connecting with other people who truly understand what you are going through. They know how you feel. People who know how lonely it is lying in a hospital bed all night beside your sick child, comforting them while they are sick in the early hours. Someone who knows how scared you sometimes feel at the thought that you could lose your child. How anxious scan day is. How much responsibility you shoulder, giving your child medication and hooking them up to feeds when you are discharged from hospital.

Childhood cancer is a terrifying world, and they are ever so thankful that in the midst of very dark days, there were rays of light with the friends they made. Friends They will call friends for life. Friends They share a bond with that can’t be broken.

6. Life will never be the same when your child has cancer

There is no going back to the somewhat normal life they’ve lived before they heard the awful words, ‘your child has cancer’. They are forever changed.

Even when treatment is finished, they still live with the threat that it will come back. Many children suffer from long-term side effects from treatment, and you see life very differently. In some aspects, for the better.

Their perspective has changed so much that Situations that would have stressed or bothered them before pale into insignificance compared to what they’ve faced now.

They have became really mindful of living for the now. Trying not to worry about what will happen, but enjoy what is happening right in front of them. To seize moments in life and just go for it. They also find themselves appreciating things that would have just seemed so ordinary, they may not have even noticed. No, life is the never the same and nor should it be.

7. Some die from battling cancer

This is a very harsh awareness. Unfortunately, All of them know this all too well that if the treatment don’t work, their children may pass away and I believe they would have heard about that possibility as well. It is one of the most excruciating things to have happen to anyone.

When you hear “Cancer stole our baby. Not because she didn’t fight hard enough, or we didn’t do everything we could.” This is heart wrenching.

8. Fundraising, research and creating awareness

Alhamdullilah, I am lucky enough that my children doesn’t need to go thru such pain but what i could do now is just to spread some awareness through this podcast. To know that I am doing something for the greater good, and that will potentially help children and families in the future is powerful. I don’t have to just sit and twiddle my thumbs, I can be proactive in finding a solution, and being a voice for children who may not.

So If you’ve ever found yourself thinking or saying, ‘I wish there was something I could do to help’, there is. You can donate blood, you can host a fundraiser or attend one, create awareness and create meaningful conversation or donate money to a charity like Children Cancer Foundation, Ain Society, ARC Children Centre, Love Nils and many more that are supporting this meaningful cause.

Children like Asfa, Chloe & Damien and their friends who have battled or are still battling cancer deserve a cure. They are worth fighting for. 

I would like to end this podcast by leaving you with the following quotes pieced together of the conversations I had with Azleen, Becky & Michael:

Keep the Faith! God will only test you with what you can bear! It is ok to cry and tell that to your children too because I know that behind those tears, there is so much resilience and bravery in each caregiver or child that is battling cancer!

To end this podcast, here is something you could take away with: let’s change our outlook in life, seize every moment and cherish with what you have! And Insyaallah/ God Willings, we will live a fulfilling life! Till another episode of Funky Fridays with Bo, I am Magic Bo.

You know magic happens when the power of love overcomes the love of power!

 

September 12, 2020

Giving is not just about making a donation, it’s about making a difference

Did you know that cancer funds allocated by the government towards funding childhood cancer research is quite insufficient?

Importance of funding research on childhood cancer

Currently, the cancer funds allocated by the government towards funding childhood cancer research is quite insufficient. This is why it is so crucial that charities and individuals donate towards childhood cancer research. The research is focused on finding safer ways of dealing with childhood cancers and preventing high numbers of child death cases, especially those caused by cancer.

The funds are also used to make it possible for cancer cure projects that were stalled because of a lack of funds. Also, some of the funds go towards innovative projects that are promising but are not yet eligible for funding by the government. These creative ideas could result in great treatments for childhood cancer.

A large amount of fundraising is used in the treatment of these young cancer patients and survivors. Some children get cured of cancer but still suffer from cancer effects like hearing loss, vision loss, brain damage and heart problems. The funds are used in research and treatment of these effects.

Your donations, therefore, bring us closer to getting better and safer treatment of childhood cancer.

How to Participate in Raising Funds this September

Coronavirus has limited us, especially on gathering in one place, making fundraising a challenge. However, you can be part of the fundraisers right from your home.

At Funky Fridays with Bo podcast, from the 2nd week of September, we will be conducting a series of weekly conversation with 3 parents of children who are in remission to understand and educate the public on the awareness of childhood cancer.

We also note that several organizations, just like the CCF, have taken the fundraising online encouraging people to donate throughout September. You can donate in any of the organizations of your choice. This way, you are part of funding and supporting those affected by childhood cancer. It doesn’t have to be a massive donation as an individual, whatever you donate, you will make a difference.

Secondly, you can organize small fundraising with your friends and contacts on WhatsApp. Let them know the importance of raising funds and encourage them to join in the fundraising. You may send the funds to a foundation or go with a few friends to visit the affected families to show support.

As we mentioned earlier, you can reach thousands of people through social media. It will, therefore, be a great idea to start a social media campaign on raising funds towards supporting those affected by childhood cancer as well as raising funds towards research.

Additionally, if you are a website owner, you can start a fundraising campaign running through September on your website to encourage your readers or listeners (for podcasters) to support the course. On that note, my adopted charity will be https://www.arcchildren.org . ARC Children Centre is an independent charity centre whose vision is to provide a sanctuary for the children attending at the centre to enjoy continuing their education, safety and bonding and provide a haven of respite and reprieve for parents trying to cope.

For Funky Fridays with Bo, we will want to make a difference and we will be donating $1 per each download of the podcast on the series on awareness of childhood cancer for the month of September.

Happy Listening!

September 4, 2020

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope

Did you know that the childhood cancer support structure in Singapore consists of hospitals, organizations and charities both from single individuals and groups?

Childhood Cancer Awareness Organizations in Singapore

Children’s Cancer Foundation

Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) is one of the foundations focused on creating awareness of childhood cancer. They focus on improving the quality of life for the children suffering from cancer as well as their families by providing support. It was founded in 1992 and has been supported over 3100 children and their families monthly. The foundation annually organizes a fundraising event aimed towards helping these children. However, because of COVID-19, there will not be a physical event this year. Instead, they managed an online fundraising platform called Hope Train to let people donate towards CCAM. Throughout this period, CCF will be visiting children with cancer from several towns.

Brain Tumour Society Singapore

Brain Tumour Society Singapore, which was formed in 2014, focuses mainly on children with brain tumours giving support to both the children and their families or caregivers. The organization does this by raising awareness about cancer, carrying out fundraisings and educating the affected people.

Club Rainbow

We also have Club Rainbow, a charity that provides the much-needed help to children with cancer and other chronic diseases. They provide emotional support, education assistance, financial support, youth programs and parental support groups.

ARC Children’s Centre

For the series of podcast on childhood cancer awareness, my adopted charity is Arc Children’s Centre. ARC is a charity day care centre designed for children with cancer and other critical illnesses. Founded by Ms Geraldine Lee, 62, and Ms Ronita Paul, 67, in 2011, the centre prioritises cleanliness and hygiene to provide a safe space for sick children with compromised immune systems to play and learn.

These are just a few groups supporting childhood cancer awareness and fundraising throughout. You can join them in making a difference this month.

Do make a difference! You can donate to my adopted charity at the following website: http://www.arcchildren.org/ways-to-help/#donate

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope!

August 31, 2020

Childhood Cancer Awareness

Did you know that every September, we celebrate childhood cancer awareness throughout the month?

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

The Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM) is an annual international awareness month celebrated every September. The CCAM is aimed at raising support, funding and awareness of childhood cancer that children diagnosed with cancer go through. It is also aimed in raising awareness of the impact for sufferers and families of sufferers of childhood cancer goes through.

Did you know that the event is symbolised by a gold ribbon, worn to commemorate the event and throughout the month, people take part in fundraising towards diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer. These funds are used towards research on prevention and cure.

Impact on Children and Parents

Childhood cancer is devastating to growth and development in children, and devastating to their families and friends. At a time when young people should be focusing on school, play and socialising, if they have cancer, their focus can be on medication, operations, and what life they have left.

Parents of childhood cancer sufferers have the anguish of watching their children suffer, and the stress of decisions on medications and treatments as well as decisions on time of work for themselves and time off school for the child. And worst, trying to explain to a child what is happening to them and answering the resulting questions on life and faith, and worst of all is the loss of a child to cancer, a devastation that can never be put right.

Currently, cancer still leads as the primary cause of childhood deaths. Each year about 300,000 children between the age of 0-19 years are diagnosed with cancer. Their rate of dying from cancer is much higher if they’re from low-income areas where there is little knowledge about cancer treatment.

Create Meaningful Conversations on Funky Fridays With Bo

For the month of September, the podcast, Funky Fridays With Bo will be dedicating a series of conversation with parents of cancer sufferers. In these series of conversations, we aim to educate the public on childhood cancer and create awareness by creating meaningful conversations with podcast as its medium. Our hope is that everyone can learn from the parent’s experience and gain some insights of what the children with cancer goes through. With awareness, there is hope. Spread the word!

Happy Listening!

August 27, 2020

Mental Health Awareness

Mental health is a big deal, but COVID-19 may have made it even more prominent.

I posted on my social media account about mental health, and I’m hurting to see some of my friends who are going through it as well.

Mental health is a connective behavioural and emotional wellbeing. Sometimes people use the mental health term to mean the absence of a mental disorder.

Signs of Mental Illness

  • Mood disorders such as depression,
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Food disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Trauma-related disorders such as PTSD
  • Substance abuse disorders.

People with mental disorders need constant counselling, love, care, support and time to heal.

Mental health in Singapore

Although we have one of the best health systems in the world and host some of the most healthy citizens in the world, it doesn’t translate to the mental health of individuals.

According to the institute of mental health, about 14% of Singaporeans have experienced disorders. The most common mental disorders in Singapore are PTSD, major depressive disorder (MDD), alcohol abuse disorder, and excessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Also, individuals between age 18-34 are at higher risk of suffering mental illnesses. The rate of depression and anxiety in the Singaporean youth population has risen considerably over time. 18% of young Singaporeans suffer from depression.

Factors such as societal and academic pressures, unstable home life and puberty may cause an increased rate of depression in children and young adults as they try to navigate through life.

A lot of young people are depressed and may not know how to best communicate it. Inadequate support from loved ones may be the perfect recipe for an increase in youth suicide.

There’s a general notion that mental illness is for those who do not have a strong will. On the contrary, mental illness has a multifaceted cause. Some strong-willed people have experienced mental illness. Additionally, it takes so much strength to recover.

Nothing dismantles the stigmatization against this concept as quickly as acquiring the knowledge. We must learn, educate and enlighten ourselves on the issues of mental health.

Coping with Stigma and Opening Up

Think about who you’re sharing with. It’s about choice. What’s the outcome you want from the conversation. Think about that. Do you want this person to help you? Can this person help you?

If you want professional help, you’ll want to ask a family member that can help you with that. If it’s just about having the love and having somebody hold your hand then find the family member who can do that.

Michelle, a mental health coach, had to go through therapy and learnt to share her story publicly with people who identified with what she was going through. She received so much love from sharing, and that was part of her healing.

We all have this huge fear we carry, and we think if anybody knows they are going to hate us. We are all suffering silently in our own ways, but people are inherently good and want what’s best for us.

There’s stigma from people that don’t understand or don’t have experience. That’s why it’s our responsibility to talk about it so people can get an understanding.

There’s so much judgement when people should instead see the suffering and the pain. To understand that it’s not a person’s choice to be in that condition. It is an illness. We should, therefore, have more compassion.

Are You Concerned?  Someone Might Be Experiencing Mental Illness

First, build the trust and create the space for that person to just to talk. Then, tell them you are concerned that they don’t seem like themselves. Explain what differences you are observing to them and ask them to go see their doctor. You may offer to go to the doctor with them but just ask them to go get checked out.

Sometimes when we say I think you have depression that might put walls up because people don’t want to have that label. Be a partner with them throughout the journey in case of a diagnosis.

Mental Health Coaching

Mental health coaching means there are more avenues for people to open up. There are mental health coaches besides counsellors, psychiatrists and doctors. We have another channel where people who are suffering there’s always a coach to guide you. The coach works as your partner in helping you achieve your goals.

Stigma between the Western World and Asian and opening up on mental illness

Singapore falls in Asian culture. Asian culture finds it difficult to open up compared to western culture. In the Asian culture, people like stereotyping, especially from the seniors. This is where raising awareness comes in.

Creating awareness on mental health challenges in Singapore

Covid-19 has provided us time to focus on a lot of areas that might have not been looked upon. About stigma, things are changing. The millennials are coming out and opening up about some chosen topics. They’re creating a support structure for people that are facing mental illness, and that’s heartwarming.

Be that voice that we need because these mental illness issues are not going away any time soon. We require strong community support, and it all starts with education.

Advice to Parents in Singapore: Rising Cases of mental illness among youth and Children

Parents should look at it from the perspective of having a different relationship. Look at other possibilities of creating a relationship that treats the child as the young adult. Building trust and openness comes with being a friend besides being a parent. This creates an opportunity for the child to open up about the challenges he or she is facing.

Recommendations For Keeping Check of Our Mental Health in Covid-19 Period

  1. Having a connectionis vital. Call your friends. Reach out. Send a text message. Zoom call if you need to. Talking to a counsellor, a friend, or a loved one you trust can ease how you feel.
  2. Physical activity. Do any exercise you love. Exercises are essential as it releases the happy chemicals in our body. You’ll feel more energetic and healthier. Exercises have long been proven to be as effective as medications to aid your mental health. You can start with a 10-minute stroll outside your house.
  3. Finding wellness practice. Meditation and mindfulness are crucial. It’s good for calming our nervous system, especially now that things are so stressful.
  4. Do the things you love. Performing tasks that energizes, motivates and makes you feel good are a sure way to help you feel better. Performing simple, productive tasks, you enjoy such as writing, reading, scheduling, gardening or watching a movie will significantly increase your chances of being in a better state of mind.
  5. Eat healthily. Avoid foods that have adverse effects on your brain and mood. Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine or processed foods with high preservatives. Instead, opt for more organic fresh foods and drink a lot of water.
  6. Get enough sleep. You may begin by making minor lifestyle changes. Rid yourself of all distractions: no computers, no smartphones, no Netflix. Set a regular sleep and wake up time every day. In due time, you may improve your sleep and mood.

These routine practices play a significant role in achieving recovery if you’re suffering from mental illness.

Catch the special episodes 6 to 8 on mental health awareness in my podcast! Happy Listening!

 

August 27, 2020

Five Awesome Things You Can Do an A Friday Night

Did you know that spending Friday night at home alone can be a restful and relaxing experience? If you were incredibly productive during the past 5 days, Friday night is the perfect time to reward yourself with something special.

Five Awesome Things You Can Do an A Friday Night

Have a party for one or two- Do all the things you usually do at a party. Light the candles, turn on some good music and have a multi-course meal delivered from your favourite takeout joint. Open up a bottle of champagne and celebrate life.

Get intimate with a book– Pick up the book you’ve been wanting to read and start reading it. If you’re not into books, read a magazine, or browse one of your favourite cookbooks or coffee table books. Avoid reading anything work-related.

Channel Your Inner Gordon Ramsay- Stop by your local grocery store and stuck up on ingredients to make a delicious dinner. Make something you’ve never made before or treat yourself to making your favourite dish. Be it pepperoni, sausage and mushroom pizza or pasta.

Have a movie marathon– Netflix was the go-to channel even before COVID-19. Check out the latest 365 DNI like 50 Shades of Grey Movie. Binge-watch a show you’ve wanted to start. If you’re more into movies, pick a director or an actor and have a marathon.

Work it out like Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons- It’s Friday, and you have a gym membership, why not hit the gym and do your own workout. Safe transition is already at phase two gyms are opening. As long as you’re not exercising, showering and then immediately jumping into bed, it doesn’t interfere with your sleep pattern at all. Stress releasing activity like yoga might help you sleep better if done at night.

Happy Listening!

 

August 23, 2020

Podcasting: An Upcoming Mass Medium

“Most people I know are interested in on-demand things: Podcasts are basically audio Netflix,” Jordan Harbinger.

Potentially Wider Podcasts Consumer Base

The first reason is the ability to potentially reach global listeners. Secondly, google Podcast search option is making it possible for target listeners to discover relevant podcasts faster than before.

Additionally, podcast applications that will be integrated into cars will generate a massive growth of podcast listeners. 

Pros of Podcasting

  • You can tell your story anytime and from anywhere.
  • You can communicate any topics or ideas to a particular target audience.
  • The subscription option enables listeners to receive alerts every time you post a new episode.
  • You can build a robust interactive community through the spoken word. 

Cons of Podcasting

  • Bandwidth may be expensive.
  • The possibility of losing your listener base in case you fail to deliver compelling episodes regularly.
  • You must always be passionate. You can’t fake it.

Keeping Your audience involved

One primary reason for delivering a compelling podcast is to get a loyal audience. To achieve this, you have to create exciting podcast episodes that will encourage your audience to engage.

How do you accomplish that?
  • Choose a topic that you are interested in and enjoy talking about. This will help you avoid having boring episodes, and you’ll be able to create episodes regularly.
  • Have a target audience and understand your audience. Avoid trying to please all listener. Choose a specific niche.
  • Tell interesting stories. People are more likely to remember stories more than any other form of information. Stories capture the audience, makes them relate to the information.
  • Create an opportunity for conversation with your audience. Ask questions and report the answers on one of your episodes. Let them ask questions and broadcast your answers.
  • Get expert guests into your show as often as you can. Find experts that are not very popular but have great stories to tell. Make sure they are relevant, entertaining and knowledgeable.
  • Ensure you have a perfect recording with clear sounding. Poor recording with distractive sounds discourages listeners.
  • Always record with the imagination of talking to one person. Since every person will listen individually. It should sound like you are speaking directly to a listener. It’s best to visualize a person in your mind.

Producing Unique Podcasts

There are many podcasts out there. The uniqueness of your content is what will draw the audience to your podcast. You have to ensure that you stand out of the crowd.

How would you achieve uniqueness?
Topic
  • If you are discussing a broad topic, have a specific viewpoint that’s different from other podcasts. Choose a perspective that you can relate to, and your target audience will be likely to connect to it—for example, fitness from the viewpoint of a parent with a demanding fulltime job.
Outcome
  • Paint a clear picture of how your audience will change after listening to each episode. Be as specific as possible. For example, “By the end of this episode, you will be able to differentiate between A and B”.
Unique Format
  • Try a different length for your episodes. If most podcasts in your niche are 30 t0 45 minutes long, create shorter episodes discussing one subtopic at a time.
  • Have a different schedule for releasing your episodes. For example, a 3-hour episode discussion with a few experts once a month and daily release of short podcast giving one tip per day.
  • Most podcasts contain just one host. Try varying from having 1 to 2 or 3 hosts from time to time.

Why I started Podcasting

Being an emcee and magician, I missed performing in front of a crowd and the sedentary lifestyle caused by COVID-19 is really taking a toll on my mental wellbeing. And by starting this podcast, I could kill two birds with one stone. I still am able to speak to people albeit it being a recording of a solo episode or even a Zoom interview with guests as well as keeping myself sane.

My focus is on discovering one’s passion. In the midst of discovering one’s passion, there will be times that we may be off track but anything that warms the cockles of one’s heart, I will try to explore and bring it forward to my listeners. My hope for this podcast is that listeners are able to take a thing or two about the topics that I had brought forward.

Happy listening!

August 17, 2020

How podcast learned to speak – The once useless medium that became essential

When you first heard about podcasts, do you remember how excited you weren’t? Do you recall the first person who said, “Did you know you can now download audio files of people talking?” To which you might have replied, “Talking about … what?” To which they might have replied, “About … anything!” — at which point you realised that podcasts seemed like radio but more amateurish, which wasn’t the most compelling sales pitch.

I’m going to guess you’ve listened to a podcast since then, maybe even a few. And I’m going to guess that you’ve even become obsessed with one or two. There are now an estimated 660,000 podcasts in production (that’s a real number, not some comically inflated figure I invented to communicate “a lot”), offering up roughly 28 million individual episodes for your listening enjoyment (again, a real number; yes, someone counted).

On hindsight, the elements that made the podcast revolution inevitable (they’re cheap to make and easy to distribute) are the exact ones that made them seem the opposite of revolutionary when they first appeared. The portmanteau podcast, a mash-up of iPod and broadcast coined by the journalist Ben Hammersley in The Guardian in 2004, suggests that podcasts rode in on the coattails of the digital-music revolution. Their development since has been a case study in sheer, unfettered experimentation — the gleeful result of the kind of widespread, wiki-sourced evolution that can happen only when no one is paying attention or, at least, no one with enormous bags of money is paying attention.

Podcasts have one very obvious progenitor — radio, to a surprising degree the public-radio program This American Life — while being the brainchildren of thousands of disparate inventors. There are no editors to convince, no producers to pitch, no green lights to be green-lit. To make a podcast, all you have to do is buy a mic, install a recording program on your laptop, and start talking.

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