I promised Nik Aiza, a former colleague of mine, to blog her son's ailment a few weeks ago. I must apologise to her for not doing it earlier. I was travelling and doing some NGO work that made me forget what I had set out to do. I now want to rectify that. Hence, this piece.
Aiza's son, Rayyan, went through an extremely difficult period recently, As the doting mother, Aiza focussed all her energy into her son, The following is her e mail to me, which she had also sent to other friends.
It shows that one is never alone when faced adversity. There'll always be families, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers who, out of the kindness of their heart, will come out with deeds or kind words to help us see through the tough times. Aiza certainly had her share of such goodwill.
Let's hear her story:
"I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all of you for the well wishes, kind thoughts, encouragement, contribution & prayers during this difficult period. Rayyan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in early March & was hospitalized in Pantai Medical Centre & then the Pediatric Cancer Ward in University Hospital.
"The total count of his white blood cells were extremely high & his platelets were really low, causing him to bruise easily. He is now undergoing chemo treatment which has several phases, depending on how well he responds to each phase & each phase lasts from about 2-5 weeks. He will finish his 2nd Phase by end of this week, followed by the next round of chemo.
"As the pictures show, he’s generally in high spirits when he’s not being jabbed or treated by the doctors. He especially enjoyed the visitors & gifts (especially Shakirah who is always excited to go to the hospital – never before in her whole life!) – and thank goodness for the portable DVD player! The hospital has volunteers who come over every week with small gifts & balloons.
"And sometimes there are organizations or companies that have small parties – it’s certainly an eye-opener to see that small efforts like these have a huge up-lifting effect not only for the patients, but the affected families & hospital staff as well.
"Rayyan is now at home & needs to visit the hospital every 3 days for his treatment. His blood count is still sometimes low & they’d give him a blood transfusion. There are several types of chemo drugs & ways to administer them. He has oral pills to be taken daily, medication to fight against pneumonia to be taken every 3 days, his hospital treatment is a jab on the butt & also another one thru IV.
"Every 15 days they also take a sample of his bone marrow to test & also to administer another drug thru there. The side effects differ from one person to another & this round of chemo drugs have increased his appetite & made him extra hyper as it works like steroids.
"As we go along, the chemo drugs will intensify & might cause him to get weaker, lose appetite & hair. He’ll need to go for surgery next week to insert something like a chemo-port, which is a tube that’s inserted thru the neck and comes out from his chest.
"The drugs will be administered thru the tube as it is more central & his tiny veins might not be able to “carry” the strong drugs. The doctors have assured us that this is a better choice as it reduces the frequency of his jabs, but we’d have to take extra care of the tube so that it’s not exposed to bacteria.
"When we go for his check-ups, he’d be extremely distressed when we’re in the treatment room, but he’s immediately cheerful again once we leave. I’m relieved that he doesn’t really act like someone who is ill. Insyaallah he’ll be alright as long as things go as planned & we don’t face any set-backs such as fever or falling down.
"With his low blood count & weak immune system due to the chemo, these would be his biggest challenges.
'It’s certainly a difficult journey, but one that must be done for him to return to health. On behalf of my whole family, I’d like to say thanks again to everyone. There are no words to express how thankful we are to have the support of so many. We can only hope that all the blessings will be returned to you & your respective families as well.
"With warm regards,
-Aiza, Izlan, Shakirah & Rayyan."