KOTA KINABALU: Donning a full military uniform, Nurul Syahidatul Addawiyah Mainim sat quietly in a wheelchair as army officers briefed her on the duties of a soldier. The 13-year-old cancer patient’s dream of becoming a soldier was fulfilled for one day at Lok Kawi camp, where a special visit was arranged to let Nurul experience the life and duty of a solder.
Despite her limited mobility, Nurul could be seen communicating with her fellow ‘comrades’ using hand gestures when she was brought around for a tour of exhibition booths displaying communications devices and military firearms specially set up at the brigade headquarters.
Her grandmother, Bunia Kayun, 62, said Nurul’s dream of becoming a soldier was inspired by her late grandfather who was a member of the Territorial Army Regiment.
He had passed away before Nurul was born, therefore she only knew him from photographs.
“In most of the photos, my husband was in army uniform. I guess that was how she got the spirit of becoming a soldier.
“Whenever Nurul played with her friends or relatives, she would play the role of a soldier. Her interest has never faded over the years and we are happy to have this experience for her,” she said.
Bunia said Nurul was the youngest among two siblings, adding that she has been looking after them for 12 years at her home in Kampung Contoh, Petagas here since their parents’ divorced.
The former SK Contoh pupil was diagnosed with brain tumour (small cell glioblastoma) in November last year, just after sitting for her Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah exam.
Surgeries to remove the tumour were carried out in November and December last year and Nurul had been admitted to the Likas Women and Children’s Hospital between January and April this year where she underwent 54 radiotherapy sessions.
Paediatrician Dr Ng Su Fang said a third surgery was carried out on September 21 after her cancer reoccurred.
“We hope she continues to progress. On our part as the palliative care team, we will make sure she is able to spend quality time and to have good quality life.
Nurul’s dream was made possible thanks to KK City Mosque Women's Affairs Syukbah president Datuk Dr Suzain Suhaimi, who wrote to Fifth Brigade Infantry Commander Brigadier-General Datuk Mohd Anuar Rijaludin three weeks ago.
“Being terminally ill doesn’t kill one’s spirit and we are happy to give Nurul the exposure on the duty of an army personnel,” said Mohd Anuar, who personally welcomed Nurul to the camp.
During her visit, Mohd Anuar pinned a Royal Army Ordnance Corps badge and a nametag on Nurul’s uniform. He also presented her with a military beret.
Nurul was all smiles for the entire duration of the visit. Although it was difficult for her, Nurul managed to say, “Saya gembira, terima kasih (I am happy, thank you),” while giving a peace sign.