While most cancer patients detest their condition, a ten-year-old girl from Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Dak Nong considers the illness her ‘friend,’ believing that it is a undetachable part of her.
It is such positive thinking that has helped Nguyen Thi Diem Phuong, a native of Dak G’Long District, get through a year-long treatment of a tumor found in her ovary.
It all started more than a year ago when Phuong experienced the first signs of pain along with a fever.
Pham Thi Hien, her mother, took the little girl to a local medical center and the district’s hospital, but doctors there found no signs of any serious illness.
It was not until Phuong was taken by her mother to the Children’s Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, after she had continued to experience pains, that the mother and daughter knew that she has a one-kilogram tumor in her ovary, and a smaller metastatic tumor in her uterus.
Phuong was then transferred to the Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital to begin her inpatient treatment for the serious illness.
It was also when the young girl started writing her diary.
|Nguyen Thi Diem Phuong (left) and her mother Pham Thi Hien hold two out of three diaries Phuong wrote when she was in the hospital. Photo: Tran Mai / Tuoi Tre|
Phuong has since her hospitalization filled three different diaries with words describing her pains during treatment, secrets she hid from her mother, as well as her thoughts and feelings.
When Hien asked to read Phuong’s third diary, the daughter would only show her mother the first page.
“I don’t want you to read my diary, because every time you read it, you will cry, and I do not want to see you cry,” Phuong wrote on the first page of her diary, the only page Hien was allowed to read.
“I am going to get well soon, so you have to be happy, only that way I can get well fast.”
Hien was allowed to read the other two diaries.
“Ever since she got sick, she grew up quicker than I thought,” Hien said.
“She has thoughts and feelings even adults can hardly understand.”
Phuong had to undergo a four-month chemotherapy process before doctors decided it was time for a surgery to remove her tumors.
Before the operation, doctors had warned that they might have to remove the girl’s urinary bladder, which would mean she has to use urinary catheter for the rest of her life.
Fortunately, the surgery was successfully carried out and doctors were able to keep her bladder.
|Nguyen Thi Diem Phuong (left) rides a bike with her younger sister in the back. Photo: Tran Mai / Tuoi Tre|
Still, the surgery was followed by another long and painful chemotherapy process, which threw Phuong into unbearable pains.
Hien was left in desperation as she could only helplessly watch her daughter cringing in pain.
However, Phuong remained positive, calling her illness a “friend” inside her.
“You and I, we are going to live together, you are the illness inside me, you are my companion. Please don’t hurt me anymore!” Phuong wrote in her diary.
Many of the other child patients sharing the hospital room with Phuong came and went but the ten-year-old girl, who had the most severe diagnosis, would always bravely battle her illness.
Then came the day when doctors announced that her cancer cells were stopped and she could come home.
On the way home, Phuong opened her diary to write the last words of her journey: “I’m well again, so now my illness friend and I will live in peace.”
|A page of her diary. Photo: Tran Mai / Tuoi Tre|