“Erra said, ‘Nenek, when I grow up, I want to be a nurse so that I can take care of you!’” HCA patient Mdm Musleha Binte Mustaffa, 60, relates with pride.
Mdm Musleha and Erra enjoy a fun day out at the Universal Studios Singapore.
Mdm Musleha’s face lights up with joy as she watches her beloved granddaughter skip happily around the bustling sights and sounds of the Universal Studios Singapore (USS). The curious explorer had been clamouring to visit the theme park for ages – a wish Mdm Musleha had not been able to fulfill on her own, due to her physical condition.
The soft-spoken grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer around seven years ago and the numerous rounds of chemotherapy had taken a toll on her immune system and energy levels. Today, Mdm Musleha relies on a wheelchair to get around as the cancer has robbed her of her ability to walk for long periods of time.
For Mdm Musleha, the notion of a good day is simple: to create happy memories with the little girl she loves dearly. When the HCA team came to know of Mdm Musleha’s wish to take Erra, 8, to the USS, they made arrangements for the tickets and logistics, to help bring a grandmother’s heart to fruition.
Erra beams as Mdm Musleha holds out an ice cream for her to take a bite. Erra’s love, in its childlike candour, is the purest expression of affection for the most important person in her life.
Mdm Musleha and Erra share an ice cream.
Mdm Musleha had taken on a mothering role after Erra’s birth, due to difficult circumstances surrounding her daughter. “I have been taking care of her ever since she was a baby,” Mdm Musleha shares.
It is evident that she has brought Erra up well. Despite her youth, the little girl is independent and understanding of her family’s situation. “Erra does her homework by herself and helps out with household chores,” Mdm Musleha says proudly. “She also goes to school and comes back on her own.”
The family of seven subsists on Erra’s uncle’s income, who spends most of the week working. “Erra always asks if we can go out and play; I explain to her that we need to wait for Uncle to have a day off as I can’t bring her out on my own,” Mdm Musleha says.
Mdm Musleha and her family have not divulged the full extent of her condition to Erra, but she does have an inkling of the situation. “Erra knows a little bit, not that much,” she explains. “She takes care of me at home – when I am unwell, she will call her grandfather and uncle immediately.”
“I worry about the future, about what’s going to happen next,” Mdm Musleha says.
Mdm Musleha looks on lovingly as Erra cartwheels around the theme park.
But Mdm Musleha remains positive about the wonderful possibilities of more outings with her family, quality time she cherishes dearly. There are plans for a family outing to Johor next year, for a short stay at a relative’s home. “I told Erra if I’m feeling better, we will definitely go,” she says hopefully.
“She often tells me, ‘Nenek, you must be strong!’ – in turn, I tell her, ‘Yes, I will be, for you.”