SEPANG, Nov 7 — Nur Izadura Abdul Aziz was at the height of her career when she received the devastating news that she had bone cancer.
The AirAsia X cabin crew member was forced to resign from her dream job in 2007 after being diagnosed with early-stage Ewing’s sarcoma, but she always knew deep in her heart that she would get back to flying again.
After seven years of rest and recovery, the mum-of-three applied once more to AirAsia in 2015 and passed her exams with flying colours for a second time.
It wasn't easy because she had to start from the bottom by reapplying for a job as a cabin crew member.
She subsequently sat for all the necessary examinations and got a job at AirAsia X again.
After a few years, she moved up the ranks again and is now back at her previous job as a cabin crew member.
Now, Izadura hopes her story can inspire people to weather the challenges ahead of them with strength and perseverance.
“The news of my cancer shocked me and it remains one of the most challenging times for me both professionally and personally," she said.
She added that she resigned from AirAsia at that time because she wanted to focus on her health and be with my family.
“During that one year of going through chemotherapy, I faced a lot of challenges that weakened me both physically and mentally,” she told Malay Mail.
Fighting the battle
Izadura discovered that she had bone cancer when the swelling from a torn ligament in her chest failed to subside and turned into a lump.
A biopsy revealed that she had early-stage Ewing’s sarcoma which could only be treated with chemotherapy, a process that took more than a year for Izadura to complete.
“During my treatment, I became very down. I lost all my hair and the whole experience was very traumatic for me.
“I became very paranoid after that. I couldn’t bear to see any dust and I refused to eat certain foods like meat. I was too scared to do anything and I lost all my confidence.”
The diagnosis dealt a harsh blow to Izadura’s family as her younger sister was also battling leukaemia at the time.
Her parents divided caretaker responsibilities between them, with Izadura being looked after by her mum while her father watched over her sister, who fought the illness for seven months before passing on.
Izadura’s cancer also created a heartbreaking divide between her and her children.
“Whenever my kids wanted to see me in the hospital, I always said no because I didn’t want them to see me in that position.
“I knew they were scared and I could see it on their faces. They weren’t afraid of me but they feared the cancer and what it was doing to me.”
After a long year of chemotherapy, Izadura finally received the good news that she was cancer-free, prompting her to take time off to rebuild her confidence and reconnect with her loved ones.
Her old colleagues often visited her during her recovery and she even received a phone call from AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes while going through her first round of chemo, a meaningful gesture that she says she’ll never forget.
Flying once more
It wasn’t long before Izadura began to get nostalgic for the jet-setting career of a cabin crew member, especially after hearing exciting work stories from her former colleagues at AirAsia.
With the approval of her doctor and her family’s blessings, she applied to her former company and became a cabin crew member for the second time.
The Kuala Lumpur native said she was encouraged to return to the working world thanks to strong support from her loved ones and the tight-knit culture amongst AirAsia staff.
“My passion for flying comes from a love for meeting new people. Each day brings something different and there’s always a new story.
“Our company is made up of people from all over the world and I love getting to share our cultures with each other.
She added that she loved watching Korean dramas and learning the language.
"So getting to work together with my Korean colleagues has enabled me to pick up some common words and phrases,” said Izadura, who also confessed to being an ardent fan of BTS and Blackpink.
“It feels like we are family even though we come from different parts of the world.”
Battling cancer has taught Izadura several valuable life lessons, the most important of which is to not stress out too much over petty matters.
She also thanked her parents and her husband for supporting her throughout her journey, admitting that being a cabin crew member requires a lot of patience and passion in order to succeed.
“We are the front-liners and our job is tough. Not everyone can become a cabin crew member and I don’t want people to look at us and think that what we do is easy.
“My parents and my husband were my biggest pillars of support while I had cancer. My mother was a working mum and when I was diagnosed, she had just retired, so luckily she was able to take care of me because my husband also had to work while taking care of our children.
“My husband really fought the battle with me and offered support all the way, so he’s truly the best husband in the world.”
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