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Published: Thursday February 13, 2014 MYT 9:54:00 AM
Updated: Thursday February 13, 2014 MYT 11:38:46 AM

Final days through a lens

PETALING JAYA: It is natural for photojournalist Ahmad Yusni Said to always carry around his pocket camera to document important events in his life.


Then came the day he decided to snap a daily photo of his younger brother, who was diagnosed with cancer, thinking that it would have a happy ending.

“In my mind, I expected the last photo of this diary to be him getting back on his motorbike and leading a healthy life,” the 45-year-old told The Star Online.

However, little did he know his younger brother Mohammad Sani was slowly succumbing to terminal ‘germ cell’ cancer, a medical term that even sounded alien to him.

“I wasn’t really worried about his condition at first. We did some research and found that this cancer, even at the last stage, has an 80 per cent chance to be cured,” he said.

He said he started to feel something amiss when his brother showed no sign of recovery as days went by and he lost a lot of weight in a short period of time.

Mohammad Sani sitting in a wheelchair at a hospital in Georgetown, Penang, Dec 12, 2013.

“Then it hit me, that my brother may not survive as his deteriorating condition could no longer handle chemotherapy,” said Ahmad Yusni, who travelled back and forth from Kuala Lumpur to a hospital in Georgetown, Penang where his brother was warded to take care of him.

Ahmad Yusni, who is currently attached to the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), first submitted the photo diary for the news agency as a personal encounter as he believed this could help spread awareness about cancer.

And this was quickly picked up by British daily The Daily Mail’s news portal Mail Online and was published on Jan 24 and went viral since. 

The photo diary emcompassed 11 heartbreaking pictures of Mohammad Sani’s battle with cancer and how it stole his life just 39 days after diagnosis.

He died at the age of 33 on Dec 28, 2013 in the Penang hospital.

Mohammad Sani lying on a bed with an oxygen support mask at the hospital.

He was later buried in their hometown in Parit Buntar, Perak alongside their father and brother, who both lost their lives in 2011 and 2012 consecutively. 

Ahmad Yusni said the main purpose of the photo diary was to alert the people how deadly the illness can be if not detected early.

“My only regret is that we did not treat him much earlier as he had been sick for almost a year, but none of the doctors said it was cancer.

“Some said it was hernia, haemorrhoids or gallbladder. So, we put in effort to cure those instead,” he added.

Ahmad Yusni, who is the eldest in the family, added that his brother was the mother’s only hope after the passing of his other younger brother and his father.

“He was very close to our mum and always helped her with her business. He also intended to take care of our mother as he was still single, unlike the rest of us,” he said.

However, he conceded that he felt awkward taking the photos as his brother was battling the illness.

A view of the graveyard where cancer victim Mohammad Sani was laid to rest.

He also revealed he was criticised by some quarters for allowing the photos, deemed to be personal and intimate, to be published.

“But if I keep the photos to myself, no one will learn from this lesson. My brother would have died in vain,” he said.

Based on his observation, Ahmad Yusni said the awareness among people on cancer is still considered low.

“I don’t think many people are aware how to make early detection for cancer, especially if it’s as rare as this. 

“Most cancer research organisations usually ask for donations instead of spreading knowledge on what we can do to fight cancer,” Ahmad Yusni added.

 

Tags / Keywords: Ahmad Yusni, Photo Journalist, germ cell cancer, Mohammad Sani

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