Sad Mother’s Day for two mums

Nurul (front low – left) and Amy (right) shaved their heads to raise awareness of childhood cancer.

MOTHER’S Day is special for mums the world over. It is celebrated on the second Sunday of May every year to honour motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

For two young mothers, Mother’s Day, which this year falls today, is not a day of joy and celebration.

They share the pains of their children’s struggles with childhood cancer and hope to send a strong message on the importance of raising awareness of the affliction by shaving their heads.

For 32-year-old Nurul (name has been changed) of Bintulu, her first Mother’s Day as a mum is tinged with sadness and despair as her only child, Adellia, has brain cancer.

Photo shows Ashton before his illness.

Ashton during treatment. Despite the pain, he still could give his best smile.

In February this year, Adellia experienced frequent vomiting and the condition persisted until she developed a few episodes of seizures.

“When the CT scan at the hospital revealed she had a tumour in her brain, my heart sank. Adellia was just five months old. I was in shock,” Nurul recalled.

“I couldn’t accept the news. I have been struggling to have my first baby for six years and now this has to happen,” she said teary-eyed.

“How does one feel, knowing one’s only child has been diagnosed with cancer, especially when it took one six years to conceive.

“At first, I didn’t even have the heart to tell my mother because she is the one who has been taking care of Adellia since she was an infant.”

Nurul brought her little girl out to Kuching to seek treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) and was thankful her family called frequently to find out how they were coping.

“I never missed a single day without talking with them. They reached out to me through a phone call, a text message or even a live video. The family support was heart-warming and I feel truly blessed,” she said.

Adellia’s condition did not improve despite treatment. Realising she had to do something for her child and also other children suffering from childhood cancer, Nurul decided to shave her head to highlight the seriousness of the disease and the plight of young patients and their families.

“It’s the only thing I can do for my daughter. I want it done for her,” she said.

Adellia is now back in Bintulu and fighting for her life.

 

A mother’s wish

Nurul said all she wanted was to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri with her daughter.

“I plan to buy her baju kurung. I realise with the fasting month approaching, it would be an even bigger challenge to take care of her but I told myself it’s okay, I’m doing it for my beautiful daughter.”

Nurul hopes by sharing her story, she could raise awareness of childhood cancer in the local community.

“Cancer not only affects adults but children too. My daughter had not reached her first birthday when she was diagnosed with cancer. But she is a little fighter. I will be with her every step of the way,” she said.

Nurul shaved her head in April in her daughter’s ward at SGH together with another mother, Amy from Miri, whose child was diagnosed with a similar condition.

 

Amy has her head shaved.

Unsteady gait

A mother of two, Amy first noticed something unusual in the movement of her two-year-old son, Ashton, when he was suffering from a fever which, as she remembers, “just wouldn’t go away”.

“Besides the on-and-off fever and vomiting, everything seemed normal until I noticed he began to have an unsteady gait and his neck stiffened on one side.

“Concerned that this might not be normal, my husband and I sent our little boy to Miri Hospital for a CT scan. We did not expect what was to come next. The doctor told us Ashton had a growth of the size of a golf ball in his brain.

“I cried the whole night. The next morning, we flew out to Kuching to check Ashton into SGH as it was an emergency case. He then went for surgery to remove the growth in his brain.

“After that, Ashton was put on chemotherapy. Later, the doctor told us the treatment was no longer effective and suggested radiotherapy.

“Our main concern was that radiotherapy might adversely affect our son in the long run by causing stunted growth and delayed mental development.

“To be honest, as a mother, I just wanted my son to live like a normal child again, running around happily without any worries like all children do,” she said.

 

Adellia during happier times. She is now back in Bintulu, fighting for her life.

Treatment cancelled

The scheduled radiotherapy treatment had to cancelled due to Ashton’s uncontrollable seizures. The medical team tried to prescribe the appropriate dosage but to no avail as Ashton’s condition persisted.

“Seeing him suffer, my heart broke into pieces. But still, I didn’t give up,” Amy added.

She said she decided to shave her head because she wanted her son to not feel the world was a strange place and that they were in the fight together.

“I also hope by going bald, I could send a strong message to raise cancer awareness. We see people every day and sometimes their physical appearance does make us wonder. To me, going bald could send a powerful message that I’m the proud mother of a young boy who is fighting cancer bravely.”

After all the avenues for treatments had been exhausted, Amy decided to take Ashton home.

“The overland journey was challenging but it was the only option,” she said.

During 14-hour road trip, Ashton’s heart stopped three times and everything possible was done to revive him until they got back to Miri.

Amy has expressed her gratitude to the Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society (SCCS) for its assistance and moral support.

“I’m truly thankful for the accommodation and financial support from SCCS. They have shown there are many people out there willing to lend a hand to children with cancer and their families. More importantly, SCCS had helped to arrange for Ashton’s journey home.”

Amy said as a mother, she had to be strong for the sake of others in a situation like hers even if it meant holding back her tears.

She added it was comforting to know Ashton had a lot of love from the people around him.

Ashton passed away at home in Miri on May 2.

The two mothers with SCCS volunteers and a medical officer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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