A 12-year-old girl, dubbed the ambassador of cancer fighters in Saudi Arabia, said that she felt her dream come true when Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud accepted her book in which she narrated her experience with the disease.
Sharifa Al Haqbani made a buzz on social media in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf when a picture of her taking a selfie with King Salman went viral on the Internet, triggering questions among those who did not know her about her identity.
“I was in Qatar to launch my book at the Doha international book fair, which coincided with the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” Sharifa said. “I entertained the dream of meeting him, and thank God, it did happen.”
Sharifa met the king at a dinner hosted by the former emir of Qatar Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani in honour of King Salman who was making his first official visit to the peninsula country, the second leg of a four-nation tour that also includes the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait.
“I introduced myself to the king who welcomed me and he accorded me some of his valuable time. He listened to my story and fight with cancer, my experiences and how I was dealing with the disease. I was truly honoured when he accepted a copy of my book. He thanked me and prayed for me,” Sharifa said, quoted by Saudi news site Sabq on Wednesday.
“It was an incredible feeling and it was the most beautiful day. I also had the honour of greeting the Emir of Qatar Shaikh Tamim and his father Shaikh Hamad, and I offered them copies of my book. I am really grateful for the nice welcome and gracious hospitality.”
Sharifa, a cancer survivor, said that she had suffered for five years and had to show great resilience.
“I had to be very, very patient and my condition is better now, with the grace of God, of course, and thanks to the support of my family and friends on social media,” she said. “I kept a diary in which I recorded the daily events unfolding as I went through the various stages of my cure course. I was able to turn them into a book ‘Beyond the Suffering, there is Hope’ that was initially launched at the Riyadh book fair last year.”
Sharifa earlier this year told Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) that she came to think of having cancer as the start of new life.
“Prior to the disease, I was a child among millions. I later launched an account on social media and quickly had many friends.”
She highly appreciated the psychological support she received from her family, friends, social workers and doctors at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre and which strengthened her determination not to give in.
The young girl said that she managed to stand firm and steadfast in the face of the disease and was able to turn the pain and suffering into positive power, Kuna reported.
Mohammad Al Haqbani, her father, said that Sharifa was still receiving treatment at the centre.
She was once felt hopeless, especially when she lost her hair, and the father and the brothers had their hair shaved off to give her some encouragement.