It was a typical Wafa Dabbagh moment. Last month, in the midst of intensive treatment of her advanced lung cancer, the petite lieutenant-commander in the naval reserves met a delegation of her colleagues and superior officers in a hospital visiting room.

They were on an important mission: to present Dabbagh with a Diamond Jubilee medal, a new award created to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's ascension to the throne. Lloyd says the list of qualities that earned Dabbagh the medal is long, and includes "her commitment and dedication to duty. Coming to work with a smile every day, in spite of the enormous challenges of what she was going through. Being that effervescent team player. What she has done as a trailblazer, in the Muslim community and the military community. All of the above."

Apprehensive about seeing their friend in the final stages of such a devastating disease, the officers arrived with heavy hearts, but left feeling transformed.

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