Cancer survivor turns Cinderella

When she was just three years old, her mother saw her limping and suspected something was wrong.

Several medical tests later, the phrase acute lymphoblastic leukaemia cropped up, shocking her family.

Nur Batrisyia Mohammad Shah Ronny would lose her hair and be racked by nausea.

But Trisyia, as she prefers to be known, is not one to give up.

She won her battle against cancer, at least for now.

And this month, the St Margaret's Primary 2 pupil, who is now eight, won a beauty pageant for children.

Her mother, Madam Nur Hidayah, 35, a teacher, called Trisyia a resilient child.

She told The New Paper: "The first sign of trouble was when she turned three years and 10 months old.

"I saw her appetite decreasing and she complained about joint pains. One day, I even saw her walking with a limp."

She thought Trisyia had suffered a bad fall and took her to KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

On Dec 10, 2010, Trisyia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer of the bone marrow that affects young children. (See report above.)

Madam Hidayah, who also has a son, aged two, added: "The news came as a total shock to my family."

In 2011, she took a year of unpaid leave to care for Trisyia because of her intensive chemotherapy treatment.


The first bone-marrow aspiration Trisyia went through, to remove samples of the bone marrow for testing, took a toll on Madam Hidayah.

She said: "Nothing in this world hurts as much as seeing your child all wired up and someone injecting a big needle into her back."

Trisyia had to face her worst fear - going bald.

Madam Hidayah recounted how Trisyia called herself ugly and refused to look in the mirror.

After eight months of chemotherapy at KKH, Trisyia's hair grew back and she finally smiled again.

While the cancer was in remission, Madam Hidayah chanced upon the Little Cinderella and Little Manhunt 2015 pageant online and thought Trisyia would love to join it.

She remembered how excited her daughter was when told about the pageant at West Mall in Bukit Batok.

"Trisyia could not stop talking about it. She even had a mental picture of what to wear and say," she said.

Madam Hidayah would sometimes find Trisyia walking and posing in front of the mirror at home.

Preparing for the pageant gave the little girl a purpose.

On Nov 1, she was crowned Little Miss Cinderella 2015.

One of the judges, Madam Anne Goswami, 36, said Trisyia stood out with her amazing stage presence.

The Mrs Singapore Universe 2015 was shocked when The New Paper told her last week that Trisyia had been battling cancer.

Madam Goswami said: "She just looked confident and at ease on stage, I had no idea."

Trisyia told TNP she hopes to inspire others, especially her peers, to persevere no matter what comes their way.

As for winning the Little Miss Cinderella title, she said: "I just wanted to have fun on stage so I didn't really expect to win. But I was really happy when my name was called out."

What is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia?

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) affects all age groups, but tends to hit younger children from ages two to eight.

It is a cancer that arises from young lymphoid cells in the bone marrow that stop growing and maturing.

Associate Professor Allen Yeoh, a senior consultant in the Division of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology at the National University Hospital, said it is the most common form of cancer in children.

It affects three out of every 10 children who are diagnosed in Singapore annually, he added.

The lymphoid cells can be either T-lineage (which are responsible for protecting the body from viruses) or B-lineage (which are responsible for producing antibodies that protect us from further infections like chicken pox).

Prof Yeoh said ALL disturbs the normal function of the bone marrow, causing patients to have frequent fevers because of depressed immunity.

They become pale and lethargic because of anaemia from a low number of red cells and experience bleeding spots or gums from low platelets.

The leukaemia cells can also cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck and compression of nerves in the bone marrow, causing bone pain.

This may cause some children to cry incessantly or refuse to walk.

Prof Yeoh added: "It is a highly curable disease with intensive chemotherapy and the current cure rates in Singapore are more than 85 per cent."

This article was first published on November 9, 2015.
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