A Nigerian mother, Hafsat Aliyu has penned a moving tribute to her beautiful daughter, Zainab, who died of Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, on May 7, 2015. She was aged 22. Born in 1992, late Zainab died at a hospital in New Delhi, India. After her plight was published in Daily Trust, friends and relatives launched a massive social media campaign to solicit money for her treatment. Many Nigerians, including Atiku Abubakar and Aliko Dangote, contributed to save Zainab.
Zainab was only 22 years old when she died in 2015. In a moving eulogy, Zainab’s mother Hafsat Aliyu wrote about her beautiful daughter and her fight against cancer. You can read it in full here.
Zainab Aliyu was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer that affects the blood) in 2013 at the age of twenty, though her health problems started about a decade earlier. The first symptoms her mother remembers her having were a bad cough and high fever. For many years, Zainab’s symptoms was misdiagnosed as various infections such as tuberculosis. Doctors also claimed she had then brucellosis, an infection that is commonly transferred to people from unpasteurized dairy.
Zainab underwent various procedures, treatments, and even surgeries. She was sick and unwell throughout her school-aged years and was bed ridden at many points during this time. Her brothers would help her get around in their home, laugh, and playfully tease that she was an invalid. Little did any of them know the long road they had ahead.
A giving relative sponsored Zainab to allow her to be treated at the International Medical Center in Cairo, Egypt in late 2013. It took three weeks of testing, PET Scan, and MRI’s before her illness was finally discovered. Her entire family was shocked by the diagnosis of blood cancer.
Her mother describes the day of her daughter’s diagnosis as the day the “world stood still.”
Bewildered and “appalled” they moved quickly forward with treatment. Hafsat describes how hard she found it to accept that her daughter was a cancer patient.
She admits she was always waiting for the call from the doctor where he would apologize for giving them the wrong medical information and that Zainab did not have cancer at all.
Zainab accepted her diagnosis optimistically and had a strong belief that she would get better. Early on, she had a successful stem cell transplant that left her family in good spirits.
But shortly after the transplant, she started having serious back pains and weight loss and not long after, her doctor solemnly confirmed that she had relapsed.
Zainab’s health continued to deteriorate.
Her mother was determined to search to the ends of the world to treat and cure her daughter and looked into moving her to a different hospital. She even got in contact with St. Jude’s Hospital in America for a free treatment but that opportunity failed. Zainab’s mother settled on taking her to BLK Hospital, India, because it was closer.
In early May, Zainab recalls how the doctors seemed to be making more effort to make Zainab comfortable and preparing her for the worst. And on May 7th 2015, the doctors came to Hafsat and told her that her daughter did not have much time. The nurse came and sedated Zainab. Her mother called Zainab’s father and before she even got off the phone the life support machine went flat. “There are no words strong enough to describe the pain of losing her,” Zainab’s mother says.
Zainab was buried according to Islamic injunctions in New Delhi, India.
Hafsat concludes her eulogy with this passionate message: