Mum's ordeal made her want to learn about cancer

Mum's ordeal made her want to learn about cancer
Elicia Nadya Elvis Isyak with her mother, Madam Junaina Basir.

She was determined to understand cancer after her mother's battle with the disease.

As Madam Junaina Basir was enduring rounds of chemotherapy and operations, Elicia Nadya Elvis Isyak lugged her school books to the hospital.

Last week, the 18-year-old Tampines Junior College student returned from a 10-day sponsored research trip to the Technischen Universitat Munchen (TUM) in Germany.

While in Germany, she studied about disinfecting water as bacteria in water could lead to colorectal cancer.

Elicia, who researched the topic, said: "There are pathogens in water, such as e.coli, that can cause gastrointestinal disease.

"Research has shown that these bacteria are more commonly found in the colons of patients with colon cancer than those who are healthy."


Her interest in the subject was sparked by her mother's ordeal.

In 2012, Madam Junaina, a 41-year-old housewife, was diagnosed with third-stage colorectal cancer. That year, Elicia was also preparing for her O levels.

Fearing for her mother, Elicia stayed by her side during her treatment. Throughout the whole process, the oldest of four children had her textbooks and study notes with her.

Madam Junaina pulled through and Elicia emerged as one of the top students in her school with an L1R5 (English and five relevant subjects) score of 13.

Madam Junaina's cancer is now in remission.

The ex-Springfield Secondary student said: "I was feeling messed up at first and didn't know how to deal with it. But my teacher provided me with moral support and I was driven to work even harder."

Madam Junaina recalled: "It was the darkest period of our lives. I wanted her to do well and carry the burden on my own, but she insisted on staying with me.

"She helped me to clean my wounds and at the same time, her notes would be beside her."

Madam Junaina then told her daughter about a programme she heard from a social worker at their family service centre, SBL Vision.

The programme, Building the Future 2014, is a collaboration between TUM Asia and The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

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