GEORGE TOWN: A personal physician to the late PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat today shared what it was like taking care of the late Kelantan menteri besar and PAS leader during the final years of his life.
Dr Azhar Amir Hamzah, of the Universiti Sains Malaysia Kubang Kerian Hospital in Kelantan, said Nik Aziz had left an indelible mark in his life.
“He was like a father to me. He treated me like his son. Whenever I think of him, I tear up,” Azhar told reporters after receiving the Tokoh Perubatan award by the Penang Malays’ Association in conjunction with Maal Hijrah today.
Azhar said he met Nik Aziz for the first time at the Kubang Kerian Hospital in 2005, when he was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer. He said Nik Aziz was first diagnosed with cancer in 1995, but soon went into remission.
Being the only urologist at the hospital, Nik Aziz worked it out with the hospital management so that Azhar could take care of him wherever he went.
“Despite having cancer, he was very active and energetic. He went to work as usual every day and was always full of life. Even towards the end, he continued to meet the people although he had to lug around a urine bag.
“When we advised him not to tire himself out, he would say, ‘In life, we are on loan from God, so we must do our best. This is my amanah (responsibility) and you have your amanah, too’,” Azhar said.
He said Nik Aziz, unlike typical Kelantanese, was not sceptical about surgery, chemotherapy or other medical treatments.
He said while most Kelantanese were afraid of surgery and would often plead, “tak nak bedah” (no surgery, please), Nik Aziz would say, “Go ahead, we try and see’. ‘Kita usahakan,’ were his words.”
The doctor said that while he was caring for Nik Aziz, he tried to be as professional as he could by staying under the radar as much as possible.
Azhar said no one knew that he was Nik Aziz’s personal physician because he took extra precaution to have the politician’s scans done in either a less crowded hospital or at a private practice.
“For example, we took the earliest flight out of Kota Bharu once for a private PET scan in Kuala Lumpur.
“Although he was a no-protocol sort of guy, I told myself that I must give him all the privacy that he needed as a patient,” he said.
Azhar also related how he was pursuing a fellowship in uro-oncology in Australia when Nik Aziz’s condition became critical in 2015.
“I took the next flight out and held his hands during his last hours. He grasped my hands just for a while and then let go,” he said.
Nik Aziz died on Feb 12, 2015 at 84 years of age. He left behind a wife and 10 children.