Zerina Amien’s 11-year-old daughter always dreamt of being a fashion designer. But only five months after she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, Naaziyah Manuel lost her battle with the dreaded disease.
Naaziyah started her menstrual cycle at the age of nine. However, when she turned 10 her irregular bleeding patterns became a cause for concern.
She had only just started the new school year when she got sick, Zerina told Health24.
After undergoing numerous tests, doctors discovered that Naaziyah had a 2.8kg tumour on her right ovary. The bleeding stopped after the tumour and ovary were removed.
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Doctors put Naaziyah on the strongest form of chemotherapy, but it was too late. “We know that the doctors were just buying us more time with her,” says father Moenieb.
Naaziyah was given three to six months to live; she died after five months.
“Seeing her go through something so traumatic at such a young age was heartbreaking,” says Zerina.
The family dynamics had to be adjusted. Zerina had to leave her full-time job to care for her daughter.
“Many changes took place after Naaziyah was diagnosed. I had to leave my job to be a full-time carer, which was challenging financially. Looking after a cancer patient and a two-year-old son was exhausting,” says Zerina.
The Cape Town family not only had to face the pain of their daughter’s suffering, but they also took a knock when the medical bills came rolling in.
Zerina started a foundation in aid of her daughter to help raise awareness in the community and to raise funds for Naazihah’s medical expenses.
“We started the foundation to raise funds for her hospital treatments,” Zerina told Health24. “But most of all I wanted the community to know about her illness as we knew nothing about childhood cancer up until our own daughter was diagnosed.”
Zerina says that they never thought that their happy and healthy 11-year-old would be diagnosed with such a dreadful illness.
“Neither did we suspect that after just five months she would be taken away from us, while we were still trying to process and understand her cancer.”
“Let’s rather spend time on experiencing life with our kids, instead of spending money to make up for lost time,” Zerina continues.
“Let’s hug and kiss our kids and make sure we tell them how proud we are of their achievements, big or small. Take as many family photos as you can – today pictures and memories are all I have left.
“If I could have just one wish, I’d wish for just one more day with her, one more minute to tell her, ‘I love you and I'm proud of you’.”
Symptoms of cancer