Monday, September 08, 2008

Ode to Siti Mariam

2007 and it was the Penang Bridge run day, held on the same weekend as the Japan GT in Sepang. I remember me wondering then, how am I supposed to go to Japan GT 2008 if these two events are scheduled on the same weekend. Lucky, 2008 Penang Bridge Marathon was cancelled this year.

For the first time, the marathon introduced a 'Fun Run' category, which saw 21,399 participants amounted in total from..i don't know..the usual less than 15,000 participants, i bet, as some 8,000 people were contributed from the Fun Run category. It was a really happening day, which started as early as 4.30am for us. For all of us who are frequent users of the Penang bridge, i personally label it as having a notorious traffic scene and you can never really predict a traffic jam even during weekends or 12mid nite. It was a Fun Run alright, some of the participants carried along their digital SLR cameras, I mean, who would've 'thunk' you would be strolling along the whole stretch of the notorious penang bridge until USM Minden entrance, taking pictures, sceneries and all. The weather was nice, the sun wasn't too hot, we strolled along and we didn't sweat as much as in the sauna. So it was a nice and pleasant experience altogether.

After the "run", a friend mentioned of another friend who was then hospitalized in Lam WahEe private in Penang. We made a short visit, and I was introduced to Mariam. She was friendly and we greeted each other like we were no strangers. Most of my social friends are from my previous company, although some of them are newbies hired after I left, I have still managed to create new social circles around them. But I guess me and Mariam, we might have had a brief chance of working under the same roof as we were chatting and acknowledging each other's names.

Tho appeared to be weak, she managed to smile and talked about her first ordeal in accepting cancer and surgeries. It started off of a condition she thought was just constipation. Little did she realize that it had been a full month since the last time she moved her bowels. I am not sure if there was any pains that triggered her to go for a check up, but the outcome was devastating, a tested cell showed positive of cancer in her colon and she had to go for an immediate surgery. First surgery was fine a few days before, but tests still needed to be done. She had a bag with a part of her colon in it hanged outside her belly. We learned that there will be a couple more surgeries and chemotherapy indefinitely. Strange tho the conversation revolved around cancer and surgeries, the aura surrounding us was pleasant. I remember her telling us that she learned from one of the attending docs that there is a patient who is so positive to live, he actually went scuba diving with his colon hanged outside his body in a bag. She was not fully vibrant but she was optimistic about healing, that, we can tell.

Once in a while as I picked up friends for lunch, we would meet at the vendor lobby entrance. We would have a brief chat of ,"hi-hey, hows life, how u doin" and we'd had some short laughs and plenty of positive auras exchanged. Friends said she walked slowly, sometime looked pale, but she had always been optimist about healing. Work resumed as usual, lunch dates and all. Tho she'd feel bad about having to leave work for her chemo sessions but she could be more passionate about going to work compare to us healthy ones.

I will always remember that the day i walked together with thousands and thousands of others in white t-shirt on Penang Bridge, was the day i met Mariam, whom has so far in my eyes had shown a strong courage in living through cancer. Since the Penang Bridge run day, she had gone through a constant chemotherapy to kill off the cancer cells. One year after that, as of last week, she underwent a final surgery, went into a comma and finally succumb today morning, Tuesday, 17th September 2008. 28 years old and fell in her battle for survival thru cancer. But with grace.

May God rest and bless her soul. May things smooth on her in the underworld and may she is always in peace. Al-Fatihah.

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