Lynley Bilby

Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Doctor in training - aged 11

Samir Azizi, with his mother Fazeela Abdullah, wants to study medicine. Photo / Michael Craig
Samir Azizi, with his mother Fazeela Abdullah, wants to study medicine. Photo / Michael Craig

Young cancer survivor Samir Azizi has learned so much about his deadly disease he plans to be an oncologist. At just 11, he is already being asked by hospital staff to explain procedures to young patients.

To adults, conversation is peppered with medical terminology but to children, Samir has a remarkable gift of communicating.

His attitude has won the admiration of many, including his oncologist Dr Scott MacFarlane.

Mum Fazeela Abdullah said Starship Children's Hospital staff asked Samir to help other children and their families understand the cancer treatments.

"Whenever I was in hospital and someone new came in who hadn't had a port in before, the nurses would ask me to explain to the new patients what it was like and how it felt," said Samir. "The parents would get it straight away and would thank me for helping."

MacFarlane said Samir was remarkable. "He's probably been one of the more outstanding patients we've seen in terms of confidence for his age and the types of questions he has asked."

Fazeela said she was shattered at the end of last year when doctors broke the news her son had cancer after an unusual lump appeared at the base of his neck.

His bravery and positive attitude was inspirational.

"I was so amazed because he was upholding me," she said. "I'm so proud of him."

Meanwhile the youngster, who returned to his Year 8 class at Auckland's Blockhouse Bay Intermediate this week, plans a career in medicine.

During one appointment Samir told "Dr Scott" he wouldn't need to worry about continuing with the lifetime follow-up because he would be performing it on himself. "I will be a doctor myself."

- Herald on Sunday

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