Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our Gem of Life

"Sir, tolong buat sikit untuk aku ni, ni gambaqnya, hang scan bubuh buat satu page, lepaih tu headingnya Gem of Life. Caption semua aku dah bubuh," my simple request to Nasir Ahmad.

The huge letter was naturally designed to impress Intan, marooned somewhere and adapting to life as an English teacher in Cameron Highlands.

We got to know each other in 1999 and in less than a year, we were engaged. On May 28, 2001, the akad nikah ceremony was conducted in Kulim. She was only transferred from SMK Kampung Raja, Cameron Highlands to the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) in January 2002.

We were blessed with our first-born in June 2002, his birth coming at a time when the world was focused on the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. Intan went through hours of agonising labour, I should know because she almost crushed my hand in coping with the pain before the doctors decided to conduct an emergency C-section.

The second major operation came along a few years later. But it was not the C-section. It was in fact due to the Big C.

At the age of 29, she was diagnosed with colon cancer Stage 2. It was on Eidul Adha that Intan felt a sharp and terrible pain on her stomach. Immediately I took her to Ampang Puteri. She underwent an ultrasound scan, MRI and the whole works.

Less than a week had gone by when the doctor broke the news to me, one-to-one. A tumour was detected on Intan's colon. And it was malignant. It took time for the news to sink in. How would I tell the family?

So began a journey and a humbling experience for the whole family.

I requested for the doctor to refer Intan to the HUKM after seeking advice from a few close friends and the then National Sports Institute director, Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz.

Intan was referred to colorectal specialist Dr Ismail Sagap and Dr Azli. They kept asking me, during the check-ups, Intan's age and they seemed perplexed as to why someone under 30 could be diagnosed with cancer. Again Intan was required to undergo the screening process. Everybody was hoping that this second opinion would provide a different diagnose - Crohn's disease or perhaps simply appendicitis.

The tumour on Intan's colon was confirmed as invasive colorectal carcinoma. Decisions had to be made. The date of the surgery was confirmed. The day came and Kak Lin and Man both came over during lunch as I waited outside the surgery room - from 8.0am to 4pm. As she was warded at the female ward, I was not allowed to sleep overnight. Kak Lin spent a few nights sleeping on a toto.

'Akif was only two at that time. We were mentally preparing ourselves for chemotherapy or radiotherapy, supported by Kak Lin, Man, Mak and Abah, Kak Ja, a doctor and Mak Anjang, a nurse. We sought opinions and advice from those who had gone through it before. Adjustments had to be made.

We were lucky. One fine day, Dr Azli gave me a call, telling me the malignant cells were localised and had not metastasised. Intan did not have to go for chemo. I literally jumped for joy and as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Once the doctors confirmed the cancer had gone into remission, we sought their advice if we could have a bigger family. They said OK and we had two more, through the C-section.

From those moments onwards, we began to appreciate each other more and savour each and every single day. We learn to count our blessings. We pray that the Big C never makes a return. I learn that nothing comes greater and bigger than the family.

We learn a lot from each other. We share the same values.

Never one to be seduced by material wealth and the allure of precious gem stones, Intan is God's gift to me.

Happy birthday Intan, our precious gem of life.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to Kak Na,
Semoga panjang umur, murah rezeki
dan kesihatan yang baik.

Dari kami di Turkmenistan.

pakmat said...

happy birthday, Intan.. lc had never before devoted a post to you in his blog..he did mentioned you once, in passing, whilst posting about his children..and he shied from including a picture of you..but this coot can guessed, from looking at the lady-of-a-thousand-lights and her siblings..but beauty is not measured by the skin that covers..and beauty in a marriage are seldom seen, only little caresses as fingers touch, and furtive smiles as eyes met..or stifled laughter of jokes private.. got yourself a good man, there, Intan..principled and a gentleman..shy of words, perhaps, when it comes to expressing his love..the posting indicates that..inasmuch you are his gem, let he be your rock, steadfast and true..through sun and hails.. a birthday gift to you, pakmat dedicates this song..from five decades ago..symbol of how love should be between a husband and a, flirtatious and sexy..

rizal hashim said...

Pakmat, Intan and I sat through Joget Si Pinang Muda together. For your information, she has the full compilation of P Ramlee's song in her car! Thanks Pak Mat, hehe but you make me sound like a heroic figure la, segan...

Kak Lin said...


Happy Birthday... Panjang Umur, murah rezeki, sihat selalu...

I remembered staying a few nites at the hospital with you.. and trying to comb ur hair and that itself was so painful for you.. Aisha also stayed over Adik.. bergilir dengan Kak Lin...


You are a strong gal and thank you to both of you for the wonderful nephews and niece!!

Lots of love
Kak Lin & Aisha

Anonymous said...

happy brithday...and all the best.

teachuhman said...

Happy Birthday Intan

and Rizal .. yes no need for anyone to tell you.. I know you treasure this "GEM"...

Yes.. we all have to.. stop and feel those around us...enjoy and value their presence in our life.

God is great and everything he gives us he does for a purpose... every second counts.

I salute your courage and strength. may Allah bless you with the best.

Anonymous said...

God (not the one below) Bless and happy birthday

Fowler is God but Torres is the new Almighty

Ahmad Khawari Isa said...

and to think that i never thot someone as stubborn, hard headed and laser mouth like you can weave such beautiful words....

this is LOVE! period!

Anonymous said...

Intan, Happy birthday - Once an angry young frenchman

Anonymous said...

Intan, Happy birthday - Once an angry young frenchman

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Intan.
I know you not but I wish you all the best and may you always be in remission.

And thank you for sharing, Rizal. Your love and appreciation of Intan is inspiring.