In the second article of the ‘Mother’s Day 2017’ series, Priscilla and Sarah-Ann speaks to Thila about her remarkable journey and strength with her equally remarkable son, Murkeish.
“Can you please stop crying, Ma? I don’t want to see tears in your eyes. Go wash your face, apply some powder and comb your hair, then come back. Because I don’t want to see you crying.
I will do this for you. Don’t cry Ma, I will be alright. You wash my back today, and when you are old, I will do it for you. We will do it together, we will be strong.”
These were the words from her then 9 year old son, Murkeish lying on the hospital bed preparing himself and his mom for the first day of his chemotherapy treatment. Thila will never forget how those words made her feel. Sharing her heart with us, tears filled her eyes, as she recalled that he was the one that day who turned around and reminded her to be strong and stay positive.
Thila’s youngest son, Murkeish was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in September 2014. Her world came crashing down at the news and during the first month, she went into depression. During one of his chemotherapy sessions, Murkeish also suffered a mild stroke. There was a blood clot in his brain, half his face was pulled up and he could hardly speak.
There was a host of other complications, such as Murkeish requiring surgery when his appendix burst. Prior to entering the operation room, the surgeon had told Thila that she should give Murkeish a kiss, just in case. She refused to do so, believing resolutely that her son will be alright. True enough, Murkeish went through the surgery without needing to be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and was soon on the road to recovery.
“The worst treatment for chemotherapy that I have to endure is the spinal injection – where they have to sedate me, and bend me over like a turtle. That is the most painful”, shared Murkeish.
In 2015, Etihad Airways and Make A Wish Foundation Malaysia joined forces to make this leukaemia-stricken boy’s dream come true. The whole Krishna Murthy family was sponsored to fly to Manchester, England where they toured the city and visited the Etihad Stadium, where Murkeish’s favourite football team, Manchester City was playing against Chelsea.
His eyes lit up as he spoke candidly about his magical experience meeting his favourite footballer, Sergio Agüero face to face. “I also asked Sergio to score a goal for me and he scored the first goal in the match!” Murkeish giggled with pride. He also had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the Match Day Mascot and walked hand-in-hand with Sergio into the stadium before the game started.
Although unspoken, it was obvious that Murkeish looks up to his older brother Kishein. He credits him for being the person who first introduced him to football. “He likes the losing team, Manchester United though!” Murkeish quipped. Their brotherly bond is stronger than ever, especially over their shared love of football.
As for Murkeish, he might only be 12 this year, but he already knows what he wants to be when he grows up – a professional footballer who will open his own animal sanctuary on the side. Oh, and he wants to be a part-time chef too! Kishein on the other hand, hopes to become a motorsport engineer. Thila is all smiles as she listened to her children speak about their future aspirations and dreams, and assured that she will support them in pursuing their desires.
Thila also proudly praised Kishein for being so understanding. She explained, “If I have to go to the hospital for Murkeish’s chemotherapy treatment, he will take care of himself by ironing his own clothes and preparing his own meals. He has been a very good son, he has never once complained about anything”.
Thila also shared her views on parenting and children with sickness. “I believe it helps to be open with your child about his/her sickness. In fact, Murkeish takes it upon himself to read about his condition. He even goes the extra mile to look up recipes with a healthy twist so that he and I can try it out in the kitchen!” she laughed.
It helps that from a very young age, Thila and her husband has instilled in both their children a sense of positivity and ‘I-can-do-it’ attitude. She often tells Murkeish to not let this sickness be an excuse to skip out on house chores and help around in the house. “I always tell Murkeish that he is fine, normal in fact. He just has this little sickness, but otherwise, I always give them positive thoughts!” she said.
Since the start of this journey, she has to be extra cautious about the food that Murkeish eats. His dietary requirements are very strict, he is not able to eat leftover food or food that has been reheated in the microwave.
Thila, who has always been drawn to cooking, began to find ways in being creative to provide nutritious recipes for Murkeish, such as “beetroot Tosei”. Thila is now giving out baking classes, and she donates the proceeds from her classes to other children charities around Klang like the Good Samaritan Home and Anbesivam. “I am keen on contributing to society more – and my heart especially goes out to children, after going through this experience with Murkeish. I make it a point to visit orphanages, I cook, bake and celebrate their birthday with them”, she further shares.
She dreams of one day opening her own café – a place for sick children, where parents can confidently bring their children and feed them with nutritious food that will help them in their road towards recovery.
When asked about the one thing he would like to say about his mum, Murkeish shyly whispered to us, “Mum has been very helpful and caring to me since I was diagnosed. She’s always been there for me, I’ve never been alone once”. The sense of appreciation and adoration towards his mum was obvious.
We asked Thila what lesson motherhood has taught her so far, “That I can love my children so much that I am willing to sacrifice anything for them. I never knew I was capable of that kind of love. If I could take the pain away from Murkeish and bear it myself, I would,” she answered. “I also realise that I have a very supportive husband, and I’m very thankful for that,” she adds.
Through our conversation, one thing is clear – Murkeish remains undaunted by the “big C-word”. While he is currently undergoing chemotherapy until November 2017, it is clear that he is a very mature boy for his age and is fully aware of his risky health condition. Yet the energy and excitement that he exudes tells us that he still retains the innocent spirit of any child his age who loves to go out to the fields to play football with his friends. He insists on not being treated differently by his friends, and is determined not to let this sickness cause a normal childhood to pass him by.
If you would like to get in touch with Thila and support her by attending her home baking classes, please contact her at [email protected]. You can view the video of Murkeish’s wish come true here: Murkeish Make A Wish Foundation