Special treat for young patients

Young end-stage cancer patients and their parents, volunteers and hotel staff including Phoong (back row, centre) in a group photo.

GOING to the beach, riding in an MPV or enjoying a hotel buffet are simple things most take for granted.

But for a group of end-stage childhood cancer patients, it brought simple joys and allowed their parents to treasure precious moments.

The day out was organised by Friends of Childhood Cancer (Foccan) Northern Malaysia and held at Hompton By The Beach in Tanjung Tokong, Penang.

The seven children from Kedah, Perlis, Perak and Penang were first chauffeured to the hotel in MPVs. They were then ushered to its coffeehouse for dinner.

Five-year-old Nurul Amelia Ramadhania Khairul Azman kept asking about the outing after learning about it, revealed her mother Masita Wahab, 45.

Nurul was diagnosed three years ago and was supposed to undergo a series of radiotherapy treatments. However, her doctors decided to stop treatment midway through as the cancer had spread to other parts of her body and there was nothing else they could do.

“We are grateful to the kind people who organised this. My daughter is still young and doesn’t really know the severity of her condition. She dreams of going to Legoland and we will try our best to fulfil her wish,” said housewife Masita.

Aqil Fayyadh Aswadi had a simple wish of becoming his favourite superhero — Spiderman.

Nurul getting her hand painted while mother Masita (right) looks on.Nurul getting her hand painted while mother Masita (right) looks on.

Hotel staff duly obliged and gave him a mask and finished the look with some face painting.

His mother Nor Suziana Azmi, 38, said five-year-old Aqil also loved riding on trains, which they were able to do when they travelled from Kangar, Perlis, to the meeting point in Butterworth.

“He enjoyed seeing all the food here and wanted a little bit of everything. From the outside, he looks just like any normal active kid,” said Nor Suziana, a school administrative assistant.

Her son was diagnosed two years ago and aggressive treatment was not able to prevent cancerous cells from spreading. Doctors advised against operating as chances were 50/50.

“They prescribed medication to slow the spread and keep him comfortable. I’m taking many photos and videos of our moments together and I’ll cherish them forever,” Nor Suziana added.

Qistina Batrisya Zamri, seven, who has leukemia, said all she wanted to do was to go back to school and see her teachers and friends. But she has to stay home as she gets tired easily.

Doctors had to stop her chemotherapy recently as it was no longer having an effect. Sadly, the news also came on her birthday.

“It was bittersweet but she has kept her spirits up despite knowing her fate. In the hospital, doctors and nurses know her as the kid who loves K-pop music,” said mother Juriah Saad, 41, a housewife.

Foccan chairman Maznah Tayib said they organised the event to bring some cheer to the children after their long, hard battle with the disease.

“These families come from the B40 group and lack the opportunities to enjoy an evening out like this. It would also give their parents some treasured memories to hold on to,” Maznah added.

Rose Charities representative Engel Cheoh said they also brought a caricature artist to amuse the children and a photographer to record the occasion.

“Seeing them here reminds us that nothing lasts forever. We should treasure our loved ones and spend as much time as possible with them while we still can,” said Cheoh.

The Vellfire and Alphard Northern Community (VANC) helped chauffeur the families to and from the event. Club member Mahfuz Ramli said it did not take long for 10 members to volunteer once they found out about the effort.

Hompton general manager Suffian Phoong, who helped the children pick out items from the buffet line, commended the noble humanitarian services provided by NGOs like Foccan.

“Dear children, you are brave, strong and loved. You are our inspiration. Keep fighting and know that everyone is sending prayers your way,” Phoong said in his speech.

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