On June 22nd 1994, a healthy baby girl was born to Eurlene Cummins-Inniss and Curtis Taylor. We were very proud of our daughter and we named her Khadija Asha. Khadija was like any healthy child. She had the common cold, got her immunization shots on time and started Pre-School at age three and half years old. She continued her primary education at the St. Patrick’s Primary School, up to class 4. During her time at St Patrick’s, Khadija was involved in the Brownies and many other activities at the school. At age Ten years, Khadija took the Common Entrance Examination and gained a place at the Foundation Secondary School. At the Foundation School, Khadija did well with the subjects she loved, and fair with the ones she would prefer not do.
I would always encourage her to try and do the best she could with the subjects she had difficulties with. I instilled into her that she must be respectful to her teachers and to everyone around her. We, Khadija and I, would have little chats about life in general. I told her of the different stages her body would go through leading into adulthood. Physically she was a very well developed child. At age 10 years, she started her menstrual period. I am glad we had these chats; they are precious memories of my lovely child. Her general health was good, or so we thought until January 2007. Khadija started having minor headaches. Towards the end of January, the headaches become more frequent and would respond to home remedy. We did not think the headaches she was having were a problem because the pain would stop after taking over the counter pain tablets. She complained of feeling tired and she was not eating the way she used to. However, her complaints did not stop Khadija from attending school. On February 12th 2007, Khadija left home for school and I went to work.
During that morning I received a message from my co-worker stating that some one wanted me on the phone. When I answered the phone, it was Khadija’s form teacher, my heart sank. My thoughts were, “What has Khadija done that her teacher has to call me at work?” She was always respectful and I never had any complaints about her not behaving well at school. As I listened to her teacher, he said, “Miss Cummins, Khadija is not well, we need to see you as soon as possible” I told him, I would arrange some time off at work and see him later that day I went to the school immediately and was directed to the secretary’s office. Khadya was sitting in a chair with a piece of cotton wool in her hand and she was smelling it. It was smelling salts, a first aid treatment used for dizziness and fainting spells. I spoke to her Year Head and Form Teachers about Khadija’s health.
They told me they noticed some changes in her general appearance. I told them that she did complain of having minor headaches and she was not eating well but she was still active and continued to help around the house. However, they recommended that I take her to see the doctor at the Polyclinic. I took Khadya to the polyclinic the same day. She was seen and examined by the doctor. Bloods were taken from her and sent to the laboratories for testing. She had medication for the headache and she was told to drink plenty of water. She did not return to school for the remainder of that week. On Saturday February 17th, we went to our aunt’s wedding, Khadija became ill at the wedding. We took her to my mother’s home and put her to bed. I checked on her before I went to my house and she was asleep. Sunday morning I was awakened as if some one pushed, me, out of the bed. I called my mother’s house, my brother answered the phone. I told him to wake up Khadija because I was coming for her and that I was taking her to the hospital.
On Sunday 18th of February, she was admitted to hospital. She had a fever and tonsillitis, her tonsils were very swollen. Several blood tests were done. An intravenous line was set up in her arm. The doctor attempted to take a biopsy from Khadija’s tonsils it was not successful. She bled a lot from where the doctor tried to take the sample. The doctor wanted to repeat the biopsy but she was worried about bleeding. She decided to do other blood tests instead. Some of the blood tests that were done previously; did not show any thing abnormal. Chlorhexidine mouth wash was ordered for two weeks and she started vitamin B12. An ultra sound and several x-rays were done.
She was seen by the Haematologist and a bone marrow test was done. Blood tests were done regularly. Khadija had to wear a face mask. Anyone visiting her had to wear a face mask, this was to protect her from picking up infections. A doctor informed me that Khadija would need to have a portacath. He explained what a portacath was and the reason for putting it in. I had to sign a consent form, giving permission for it to be done. She was taken to surgery to have the procedure done. On Monday March 5th 2007, the doctor reported the result from one of the many tests she had. It is a day I don’t want to remember but how can I forget? The day I was told that Khadija had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). The doctor explained what (AML) was and that Khadija would have to start chemotherapy treatment very soon. I tried to explain to Khadija about her diagnosis. On March 6th, two doctors from the Haematology Department spoke with me about her treatment and the various tests that would be done before starting the treatment on Khadija. This would include an echo, to make sure her heart was okay and getting some spinal fluid from her spine. (LP) Members from the Myeloma, Lymphoma and Leukaemia Foundation visited and gave me information on acute myeloid leukaemia. They continued to visit during her stay in hospital. Many family members, friends, school teachers and class mates visited her.
She was never alone. I was with her from the time she was admitted to hospital until the day she died. I took unpaid leave from work to be with my daughter day and night. Wednesday March 7th, the social worker at the hospital came to see me. We discussed sending Khadija to the USA or Canada for treatment. She said that the hospitals in these countries would be contacted by the doctors here. She needed other information from me to start the process and had things in place to go overseas. March 7th: They were hoping to start chemotherapy today but she needed blood or platelets. She was given a blood transfusion the next day. Sunday, March 11th: It is now three weeks that she has been in hospital, and she is not feeling well today. Monday March 12th: A cat-scan was done because she complained of headaches. She also had a blood transfusion. The doctor told me they had not heard from the hospitals overseas as yet. I was told that they would start the chemotherapy treatment. If she goes to Canada or the USA they will continue where they signed off. March 13th: Finally, she started the chemotherapy treatment today. March 14th: Her chest was swollen; she was seen by the doctor.
The intravenous fluid was disconnected from the portacath, and was placed in the arm. March 15th: The portacath was removed from her chest because her chest remains swollen. It was making her very uncomfortable. On March 16th, Khadya’s condition deteriorated, she said to me, “Mummy, I feel as if I am dying”, and that her tummy was feeling “funny”. I went from her room and started to cry. She was transferred to the Paediatrics Intensive Care Unit (PICU). She was having oxygen by a face mask. She made signal, to me to come to her so I went to her bedside. She said, “Mummy I talk to God and he talk back to me.” I joking said, And what did He told you? She said, “It was between God and me, and I want you to do one thing for me, stop going into the bathroom and cry.” Those were her last words. She was very pale, and lifeless as if she had on blood in her body. The doctors tried to revive her, she did not respond. She closed her eyes and died. My heart is broken; I cried many tears because I missed her so much. When I reflect on her last words to me, I know she is with God. It gives me the strength and a new meaning to life. Each day her words draw me nearer to God. I thank God for those precious 12 years. I will always love and remember you. Mom