One day, our parents said we would have another sibling, whose name ends with “den”. We were curious. Are they for real? That’ll be funny, we thought. Turns out they weren’t exactly kidding around...
Welcome to the new ‘baby’ in our family: Frienden Arts.
I am Jaden Lim, 14 years old. My brother is Branden, and he is 11 years old. We are both very different in many ways. However, we have two things in common.
Firstly, both of us like to make art or create things.
Secondly, we both have a rare disease.
Branden has never walked before. At just one years old, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). He started painting when he was two, as a form of therapy to prevent his hands from getting weaker. That’s how painting became our favourite pastime, as Mom would give us paints, brushes and paper, and let us do whatever we liked. We also used our fingers, and it always gets messy—but that’s the best part!
Since then, we have painted and drawn with other adults who are artists at art jam events, had art exhibitions with friends, and created some cool things with our artwork.
I’ve always wondered, how can Branden be so happy? He likes saying, “Best day ever!” though he can’t walk, and has to sit down all day. As brothers, we fight and play like any other boys. Mom has to remind me to be gentle. Since we can’t do sports together, we play online games with our friends. We also love going to the park, and the beach. But during the pandemic season, we couldn’t go out, as we both had a rare disease...
At the end of 2020, I got to know about the tumour in my pituitary gland. This is the reason for my growth hormone deficiency, and it’s why I’m smaller than my peers by a lot. The doctor said that if the tumour grows bigger and is not removed? I might go blind. But removing the tumour can also be highly risky. There’s a chance of damaging the nearby brain tissues or nerves. It might mean losing the ability to draw and paint.
Am I sad about my diagnosis? Of course. It was absolutely crushing. I’m scared, too. And there is nothing we can do about it for now, except to monitor the tumour’s growth. I also really dislike going for the MRI scans, and taking blood tests every six months...
But hey, I have learned that even though we do not have any control over how things happen, we can make the best of what we can do. I like to get busy with my hands these days. I’ll be making helmets or drawing, whenever I am bored with nothing to do. It helps me focus on the project at hand, and I’d feel good afterwards when it’s all done!
As for Branden, he enjoys going “crazy” with art. Whatever he’s feeling in the moment, he’ll “follow his heart” and express it in his artwork. He also dreams of being a YouTuber or a gamer. More than that, he wants to be like other kids—to walk and run and play. I hope his wish will come true one day. This means he needs to continue his treatment. Our parents said that it’s very expensive, but the treatment prevents him from getting weaker over time. It’ll also give him a higher chance of surviving to become an adult.
This is one of the main reasons they’ve created Frienden Arts. It’s to help us earn some money to pay for Branden’s treatment—as well as mine. Every support will mean a lot!
We hope that through our artwork, we can share our simple joys and happiness with you. Even though we have our own challenges, and we’re still young, we believe we can all do something while counting our blessings—every single day.
As my dad likes to say, “make your days count, not count your days”.
Let’s celebrate life every day!