A single mother from Auckland who had a rare ovarian cancer and taking care of her three-year-old daughter suffering from brain damage passed away peacefully in Auckland on Sunday, May 24.
A Givealittle page created by Baitul Ilm Playgroup to help support the medical bills and other treatment expenses of the single mother Rizwana Shaikh and her two children announced the news on Sunday of Rizwana’s demise.
“It is with great sadness that we have to deliver the heartbreaking news of Rizwana’s passing a few hours ago,” the update on Givealittle page posted by Baitul Ilm posted.
“She fought bravely to the end - with her angelic smile ever-present no matter how much pain she was in,” the update read.
Rizwana Shaikh, 37, already struggling to care for her three-year-old daughter Alisha and five-year-old son Aabir, was given the devastating news of her rare and aggressive form of cancer earlier in January this year and was given only 18 months to live.
Rizwana’s was diagnosed with a large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma that originated from her ovaries, that metastasized, spreading to adjacent organs including her lymph nodes.
Rizwana’s daughter Alisha suffered a terrible traumatic brain injury at birth that left her brain-damaged and further adding severe cerebral palsy to her condition. This meant Alisha needing immense care from her mother, who would be around her round the clock. Alisha is non-verbal, and has auditory, sensory and swallowing delays and is wheelchair-bound.
In addition to this, Alisha has a vision impairment, spastic quadriplegia, thermo-dysregulation of her body and myoclonic spasms and seizures.
Rizwana’s treatment for cancer that included chemotherapy, and its unpleasant side effects on both mental and physical health, undergoing intravenous vitamin-C injections, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, hydrogen therapy and taking other natural supplements to support her body.
Undergoing through these multiple treatments herself, Rizwana could not devote as much time as required taking care of her severely disabled daughter Alisha that further resulted in multiple epileptic seizures and severe side effects of prescribed medications impacting her overall health.
Exploring other options for Alisha, Rizwana also tried different resources and therapies in a safe and controlled environment such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, stem cell therapy and private intensive physiotherapy both here in New Zealand and abroad.
As per NZ Herald’s report, Rizwana was visited by her sister Tabassum Shaikh along with their parents from Brisbane, Australia in February during the initial diagnoses of cancer this year.
Tabassum last met Rizwana in Auckland before flying back to Australia on March 25, just a few days before the Alert Level 4 lockdown and international travel ban in New Zealand.
Tabassum tried speaking with the immigration, Indian, New Zealand and Australian embassies during the global pandemic lockdowns to allow her and her parents to travel to be by Rizwana’s side. Despite all her efforts, Tabassum and her parents were deprived of the opportunity to meet and see their dying sister/daughter in person.
Rizwana was supported by the Muslim playgroup, Bailtul Ilm in Auckland where her children were taken care of during her stay and who created the Givealittle page to support Rizwana and her ailed daughter via donations financially.
Rizwana came to Auckland in 2011 and got married here and was in the IT industry earlier but she got a job offer in administration and HR in New Zealand. She continued her work after the birth of her first child, Aabir, now five years old and currently being taken care of by his father, NZ Herald reported.
The couple soon split after the birth of their second child Alisha and Rizwana took care both of her children as a single mother.
Alisha is currently being taken care of by a guardian as appointed by Rizwana under her will, but her long-term care is a matter that requires resolution by the Family Court.
Rizwana’s dying wish was that one-day Alisha would be independent.
The Givealittle page has so far raised over $81,000; the proceeds will go towards Alisha’s recovery via most appropriate therapies, to support her ongoing medical needs so that she can fulfil her dying mother’s last wish of being healthy and independent.