KOTA KINABALU: The date September 4, 2014 will now be more meaningful for 24-year-old Ahmad Nazri Hamzah who lost his right leg to cancer.
Because on that day, he stood tall at the peak of the 4,095-metre tall Mount Kinabalu, accomplishing not only an achievement in cancer awareness, but also confirming the belief that determination is the key to achieving dreams, with or without cancer.
Ahmad Nazri’s cancer story began when he was just at the age of 14, after he fell down while playing football.
Following a series of medical check-ups at the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM), he was then referred to Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM) Kubang Kerian in Kelantan after the swelling on his right knee was suspected to be a tumour in 2012.
The following three years saw Ahmad Nazri undergoing various treatments, including MRI and bone scans at the HUSM Kubang Kerian, and later seven chemotherapy treatments and seven surgeries, before it was confirmed that he had third stage bone cancer, and his leg had to be amputated through three other surgeries due to cancer cells beginning to spread to his lungs.
Losing a leg did not seem to stop the young lad from pursuing his love for sports, or from anything else for that matter.
Not only is Ahmad Nazri a diploma graduate in Business Studies from Politeknik Shah Alam, he is also an athlete in the national wheelchair basketball team.
“The three years that I had to get the series of treatments at HUSM Kubang Kerian meant I had to skip three years of school. But following successful treatments, and self-determination as well as support from my family, loved ones and Majlis Kanser Nasional (MAKNA), I managed to repeat my Fourth Form and eventually sat for Sijil Peperiksaan Malaysia (SPM), before being offered to further my studies,” he said.
He went on to represent Malaysia in the international-level wheelchair basketball in France, through the National Sports Council, of which he is currently an athlete.
One of the biggest support networks that helped Ahmad Nazri to get through is MAKNA which has been helping him ever since his journey with cancer began.
“MAKNA has always been assisting cancer patients who are not well-off, like myself,” said Ahmad Nazri, whose late father was a taxi driver.
“They contributed financially such as bearing transportation and accommodation costs, treatments, and also providing moral support, especially in a circle where everyone else knows exactly what it feels like to have cancer,” he shared.
That was what inspired Ahmad Nazri to sign up as a volunteer with MAKNA, as he wants to make a difference in the lives of other people, especially young people like him, who have cancer.
And he did not turn down the offer to scale Mount Kinabalu as a way to raise awareness and funds for cancer last year, through MAKNA’s ‘Klimb for Kanser’ (K4K) annual event, which proved to be more challenging than he initially thought.
“I initially doubted that I could do it but I managed to convince myself that I could, and I would have if it had not been for reaching the last checkpoint, Sayat-Sayat gate, 15 minutes after the gate closed at 5am sharp. “So this year, I set my eyes and goal to reach the peak, and learning from last year’s experience, I left Laban Rata much earlier than the rest of the team at about 1.30am.
“I reached the peak at about 5.30am and finally achieved what I had set out to do, not only taking cancer awareness to a higher level, but also to challenge myself and what I am capable of,” said the bubbly young lad, when met at the MAKNA volunteer appreciation dinner 2014 at the Pacific Sutera here last Friday.
Ahmad Nazri, along with 13 other MAKNA volunteers who came from as far as Bangladesh, Norway, Hong Kong, Kuching and West Malaysia, scaled Mount Kinabalu on September 3 to raise awareness and funds for cancer.
They were honoured and given recognition during the event, as well as all of MAKNA’s Sabah-based volunteers, for their significant contribution in achieving the organisation’s vision and missions.
There is a silver lining in every cloud, and there is a reason behind everything, even in cancer.”
“Accept what God has given us. But never give up on yourself,” said the optimistic young man.