KUALA LUMPUR: When faced with a choice between keeping her leg and losing it, Dr Aizan Sofia Amin made a very difficult decision. She chose to have it amputated.
Dr Aizan was only 16 when she lost her right leg to bone cancer after a failed bone replacement surgery two years earlier.
“The pain was unbearable. I told the doctors ‘please cut off my leg’,” she recalled.
Dr Aizan’s biggest challenge after becoming disabled was not the disability itself, but in facing society’s perception towards her.
“I was born with all my limbs. But when I became disabled from losing my leg, they immediately assumed I was disabled mentally as well.
“It affected me when people thought I could not do much as a person.
“There was a time that I just wanted to quit everything, quit my studies and quit society,” she said.
The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia lecturer said most disabled people would become depressed if they were not given the space and room to develop their own potential.
She recalled how some of her schoolmates spread stories of her having learning impairment.
But Dr Aizan was done beating herself down and decided to immerse herself in her studies.
“I became a top student at matriculation and in the university, and as luck would have it, I was hired as a lecturer,” she said.
Dr Aizan later furthered her studies and obtained a doctorate in disability studies from the University of Glasgow.
Yesterday, she received an award for her achievements in the academic category from Women, Family and Community Develop-ment Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim at the National Disability Day celebration at the Putra World Trade Centre.
Rohani later told a press conference that the Welfare Department would be expanding its job coaching programme for disabled people to the Asean level.
“We have developed the expertise for job coaching and we are ready to share it with other Asean countries,” she said.
Job coaching is a programme that matches a disabled employee and employer to ensure work compatibility.
The coaches train and assist the employees until they are comfortable and confident on their own.
The Welfare Department currently has 108 coaches.