We only realise how beautiful life is when we chance upon death

I started writing this post three months ago but as my luck would have it I jinxed myself and ended up having a slightly more complicated last stretch of treatment..I’d been plodding along minding my own business getting on with life, when I learnt the dreaded word, the word that would come back to haunt me… penultimate.  Yes you heard me, penultimate – i.e. second to last.  

Considering I was in hospital for treatment every three months I was meant to have my very last cycle of chemo in June including the IV/intrathecal/steroids etc basically the whole shebang. I decided to at every opportunity use my newly found word and say to my friends ‘hi guys it’s my penultimate chemo coming up.’ That’s basically how the conversations always started and sometimes ended. Yes I’m afraid our conversations are always that exciting. 

So come March I went in, had my penultimate chemo, my penultimate intrathecal, and my penultimate set of steroids. Nothing felt that different – I had a sore mouth for a few days but nothing out of the ordinary. 

So on the 13th of March, when I got that private number call and I picked up to hear my CNS’ voice I panicked.  I still remember before I was diagnosed I had a blood test done and I received a phone call that same day from the hospital to come in ASAP as every component in my blood that would help it clot, that would be my defence against any bugs and creepy crawlies was to say the least non existent. Anyway, that previous week when I had the chemo injected into my spine, some of the CSF was removed – the fluid that surrounds our spinal cord and brain, and it was sent off for testing as per usual. Some suspicious cells had been found in my CSF so my consultant wanted to see me to discuss it further. I put the phone down and immediately called my brother (basically my emergency helpline) in tears and told him. And he, calm as a cucumber said ok don’t sit there and stress we’ll go tomorrow and see what happens.

 I don’t know if you want to call it irony or a mere coincidence but just that morning, half an hour before I received the phone call I’d gotten an email from uni giving me all my placements for the upcoming year. So there my mind started to wander about why life seems to do this. I retreated back into my shell as I always do when something starts to go slightly wrong, and counted down the hours whilst imagining the worst.

I refused to tell anyone else, fearing just saying the words would make it real and also not wanting to worry anyone least of all my dad. So off we went, my brother and I and waited to see my consultant. He basically explained that some of my original leukaemia cells had been found in this spinal fluid. My reply – I’m meant to start uni again this year, and we’re all going on holiday in a couple of weeks. At that moment in time I couldn’t think of anything else, genuinely, it’s funny the things that will go through your head when you’re given some ‘bad news’. He explained that nothing was clear here and this situation was unusual as it wasn’t the usual route that a relapse occurred. Usually it would be found through blood tests, or through a bone marrow sample. But him, being one of the best doctors in the field was very honest and frank that he just didn’t know what to do, there were no clinical trials or research that he could refer to – chances are I would have to have induction chemo all over again and have to have a bone marrow transplant. But he would need to discuss with his colleagues around the country and I would need to have yet another intrathecal to take another sample, inject more chemo, and also do a bone marrow biopsy to see if I had had a full blown relapse. I left my brother to ask the questions, as there’s no doubt he was thinking about the same things I was and I’m grateful to God he was there to allow me to stop fighting back the tears and just let go. I remember back when I was first admitted on the ward after my diagnosis and a lady who was in the bed opposite me, told me very simply and frankly, ‘I cry when I feel down, but when it’s about my illness I only allow myself five minutes’. I was in awe at how strong she was, but it’s something I’ve never forgotten. So I had a couple of minutes to myself and then we came to a decision that we would meet again the following week for the results from the tests and once my consultant had gotten all the information he needed.

On the way home I kept thinking one thing; My life is just about getting back on track, having to leave uni the previous year after just a couple of months as my body and immune system couldn’t keep up was bad enough but at that very moment I was in the best place I could be. I was managing my medication well, my immune system had decided to be my friend, I had planned a holiday, was set to start my final year again in June. I was the happiest I had been in years, mentally and emotionally so well that I had come off my medication and my future was starting to look a little clearer but now this. I couldn’t face telling my dad, part of me felt like I had disappointed him, that my body had let me down again and my life would be put on hold yet again. But Allah has blessed me with a wonderful supportive family including my brother, he has always been my first port of call in any problem or worry and who I can say is hands down the best brother I know. He simply as the protective caring brother he is took over and said, I’ll come over later and we can tell dad together.

I went home, tried to sleep, my brother came over and explained the situation to my family. My dad was as shocked as anyone would be but a few questions later he came and gave me a hug and again the same words I heard from the very first time I was diagnosed – everything will be alright. 

I called my best friend and told her everything, I cried for a bit and she told me she would be coming to see me and that was that. I still remember the very first time I went into hospital she turned up and spent the night with me. We often remember that night mainly because that was the night I was, no word of a lie, named ‘the patient with platelets of 7’. 

I think it was silently decided that I would go in to the hospital the next day with both my sisters and my friend, and they stayed there keeping me calm whilst I had my intrathecal chemo and my bone marrow biopsy. Again, the nurses tried sedating me, my blood pressure was too low so I had to do without but alhamdulilah it wasn’t as painful as before. 

I got home that day like a zombie. I hardly ate that week, hardly slept aside from the temporary sleepiness the painkillers gave me, I hardly moved or left the house or even spoke to anyone. Staying silent seemed to be the only way I could cope and it just took me all the way back to two years before whilst I was on intense treatment where I went through a period when I basically just stopped talking, that was it, I could form the words and my mind was wide awake but I’d sometimes manage to mumble a few words or whisper but that was it. It’s actually something called ‘chemo brain’ and is a real thing, I’m not sure if this was the same thing or I was just retreating into my shell but suffice to say it brought all those memories back again. I got the dreaded ‘intrathecal headache’ which I haven’t had in so long, that went on for days. It’s basically one of the worst headaches you can feel, the pressure is only relieved by lying down, and is at times so bad that I would constantly vomit, I could only stay upright for a short period of time before i felt like my head would explode. My friend offered to visit and I refused saying I would be bad company but her reply was simply so what, I’ll sit there with you, not talking, playing games on my phone, so I didn’t refuse, I could do with the company. I couldn’t even sit up the headaches were that bad, so I was in bed the whole time, and she sat there talking when I wanted to talk and keeping me distracted. She introduced me to ‘cafeland’ (thanks for that and by the way guys if you’ve ever wanted to own and manage a cafe/restaurant that’s the game for you). We established one thing though that my penultimate chemo was not actually the penultimate one as I had 7 more left (kill me now). We refused to use that cursed word again, and I put it on par with You Know Who.

That week was one of the longest of my life, I’ve never really had to wait for bad news as when I was first diagnosed I had no idea anything was even ‘bad’ to begin with and it all happened so quick. But I had so much love and support around me I couldn’t complain, my dad was there again bringing me breakfast in bed comforting me when I was so overwhelmed with pain or being sick even if it was the middle of the night. I’m truly blessed to have friends and family who drop everything to come and spend time with me, who listen to me cry like a baby and reassure me that things will always be ok and that we will deal with it together.
The night before we got my results my sisters decided to take me for a Nando’s trip, I’m not sure if it was just because they wanted to keep my mind off things and get me out of the house or if it was because if things went wrong this would be my last trip out to eat for a long time. Either way, I knew we were in it together and just like they were there to care for me like I was their own child they would be there again. I’d pretty much eaten very little for that last week and every meal I had vomited so even Nando’s which I love, (like true love the kind you would go to the ends of the earth for) couldn’t make me work up an appetite. We went and ate, and avoided talking about anything hospital related. All I regret now was not finishing my meal because I could kill for a Nando’s right now!

The 22nd of March came, I woke up, wanting to get the day over with, it was a dark rainy day, but I sat there and I took my time and did my hair. It seems silly, but my hair had just recently gotten long enough for me to do things with it (and anyone who knows me knows how much I loved my long hair and how I love doing braids) so I did a braid in my hair thinking I would soon have to say goodbye to all this hair again so I may aswell make the most of it. We went to the hospital, my brother and dad by my side, and I was silent pretty much the whole wait. When we were called in, my consultant with a smile on his face told me the bone marrow was clear, so was the repeat CSF. He was baffled as were we about what had happened and also what this meant. The consensus he had reached with his colleagues was that this wouldn’t be treated as an overt relapse, (thank the Lord) that my treatment would just be upped to monthly and they would keep a closer eye on me until the end of my treatment in September where I would also have another biopsy. He was as surprised as we were and was honest enough to tell us this was complicated for him as he had never in his experience come across a situation like this – but of course Sod’s law with me being a medical student it obviously had to be more complicated!! Nevertheless, this was honestly the best outcome any of us could have hoped for.
You know the phrase people use when they say they have a weight on their shoulders? Well, that was me, but walking out of there that weight genuinely felt like it had been lifted, no word of a lie, the sun was out and I was suddenly hungry! My dad was so happy smiling from ear to ear, and I let everyone know what the doctor had said. And the best news of all (of course) was that I was cleared to go to Turkey with the family – the thought of having to cancel 11 tickets alone was giving me palpitations (yes the trip reminded me of the entire home alone family going on holiday, but I assure you, this was crazier).

There are a few dates I have ingrained into my mind and this one has been added to the list because it genuinely felt like I was being told I was perfectly fine even though everything wasn’t perfect, but that didn’t and doesn’t matter because instead of remembering this day for bad reasons it has done the opposite and given me hope.
Over the next few weeks my hair started falling out in clumps likely due to the extra treatment I’d been having, I panicked and was crazy worried I would soon be saying goodbye to my hair, but it settled over a couple of weeks. Thank God that I was repayed with an even thicker mass of hair after it all fell out that to lose some of it now wasn’t the end of the world. 
Since then, I’ve been in hospital every couple of weeks to monitor my bloods and monthly for treatment, and now as I lie here recovering I have just had my PENULTIMATE INTRATHECAL CHEMO! Yesssss indeed. I can stop referring to it as the p word now as it’s done!!!! InshAllah I only have one more IV chemo, one more set of steroids, one more intrathecal, one more bone marrow biopsy and one more month of taking these chemotherapy tablets!!! I think that calls for a party! One that I’ve been planning for the last couple of years now, yet I’m too afraid I’ll jinx myself again.

These hiccups along the way have only reminded me of the reality that nothing ever works out the way we want it to. Yet, I’m in the best place I have been for years, I’m back to being a final year medical student and I’ve actually managed to make it through the last 6 weeks on the wards pushing through my fears and anxieties, with my health on my side. I’ve been lucky enough to end up with such supportive people around me at uni that encourage and reassure me every single step of the way that I can do this. My life seems to be moving forward and I’m off on holiday to Croatia in just a few days time! I won’t lie the fear of things going wrong is always there, but I think that might be the pessimist/worrier in me. I genuinely think I find things to worry about as not having anything to worry about worries me!

The best way I can sum up that experience was what my best friend said to me at the time which will always stick with me, that nothing is ever impossible and I am proof of that. Make the most of the time you have, take it from me, regret is the worst feeling in this world. 
As always I only ask that you keep me in your prayers, that from here on out things go ok and I can make it through this year with my health on my side and get this degree done!!! The light at the end of the tunnel is definitely in sight.

Love, always x

P.S: be careful using the p word.
P.P.S: want to learn how to write an essay and perfect the art of rambling on? I’m your person.

Never let a stumble be the end of your journey

I know it feels like eons since I last posted but I for once can honestly say it’s not all due to me being lazy.. (maybe a little).  I have had some of the most wonderful times over the last few months, kept myself busy and started to tick things off my (pretty extensive) bucket list.

I travelled to Morocco and Portugal with my beautiful friends, completed the Race for Life, spent days out with friends and had numerous ‘sleepovers’ (yeah I feel like I’m making time for all I lost out on as a child). I got to spend all the time in the world with my family and most importantly restarted my final year (yipppee). Finally, my life seems to be moving forward, and as scary as it may seem I just think back to this time last year and never would have imagined in a million years this would be where I am. The holidays were the best break ever, although I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent, and ended up getting a little sick, I had so much fun and laughed so much that I’m certain I could be heard from here. And hey, what better bunch of people to go on holiday with than qualified doctors?! I know it was definitely a comfort for my family knowing that, and the lovely bunch also stopped me ‘forgetting’ to take my meds. Nothing, and I mean nothing at all beats travelling!!! It has become my number one thing to do, and it’s no surprise that I’m already on to planning the next.

 

Managing to complete the Race for Life was an enormous achievement for me, for a start raising money for a cause so close to my heart was great enough in itself, but knowing in my heart that I had managed to do it was a whole other accomplishment.  I recall back to just a mere year ago when I could hardly walk a few metres, climb the stairs or even have a shower without getting breathless, managing to take a walk in town without having to make a few stops were challenges alone that managing 5K was pretty much out of the question. But I promised myself, and over the months I trained and I got my fitness back up and I could literally see my stamina building before my eyes; and with my sisters I managed to get through the day.  It’s a truly beautiful thing what the human body can achieve, how it can be completely broken down but manage to rebuild itself to a working, functioning, almost ‘normal’ state.

Over the last few weeks though my life seems to have slowed a little, I’ve backtracked somewhat and felt weaker than I was mentally, emotionally and physically. Headaches, feeling low in mood, and sleeping all the time blah blah blah you know how it goes! I ended up being in and out of hospital, blood tests, a CT scan, a lumbar puncture, and it shocked me how I was hardly phased by it, it’s like this is part of my normal life now. To top it off my neutrophils –  the infection fighting cells, dipped over the last few weeks (I like to call this being neuty, yes I make up my own words most of the time) – this meant me not being able to start my next placement, and the time I spent wallowing in myself seems to have increased.  Anxiety has always been my biggest downfall, I’ve suffered forever from it (anyone with a magical cure please contact me – I’ll pay you!) heartache, being let down or hurt has such a overly tremendous effect that I end up stuck in a rut and always thinking the worst – and then comes the dreaded snowball effect. I get anxious about my own abilities, by what others think, I’ll spend hours, if not days dwelling. I’d already set myself up being nervous about restarting placements out of fear that my knowledge wasn’t up to scratch or my consultants wouldn’t be happy with my progress, and then what if I can’t carry on and I can’t finish my degree, what will I do with my life, how can I start all over again? (See what I mean about snowballing??) So not being able to start placement properly came as a bit of a blow.  I was looking forward to having a proper routine, keeping me and my mind busy and quite honestly I didn’t prepare myself properly for the potential little hurdles that could come my way.. It’s pretty much a waiting game now. Waiting for my body to start being my friend again, and let me get through this blooming year!!!! Although I guess being around sick patients at the moment when I have next to none white blood cells would be the cherry on top of the bloody cake. There is however one small plus side, which is probably wrong on so many levels, but I can atleast use my low counts to my advantage – e.g. don’t be mean my neutrophils are low. It works 80% of the time, but everyone’s getting used to it now so I’ll have to think up something new.

Today I came to the realisation that self criticism has always been a really (BAD) habit of mine – I have friends, and family constantly telling me to be a little easier on myself, to calm down, relax, to not expect too much of myself, especially now having been through so much. When I restarted uni, on my placements my tutors congratulated me, telling me it’s so good that I’ve come back after a tough time – I didn’t quite get it at first, because it was like well yeah, of course I was going to come back what else am I going to do? that I almost ended up undermining myself.  But today, after having a much needed talk from a wonderful friend (I love you Reena!!), a lightbulb seemed to go off in my head about how I’m giving myself no credit whatsoever. She gave me a simple piece of advice and told me to sit down and make a list of everything I have overcome, all the hurdles, all the bad times, and how regardless of what state I was in, I managed to get through it.  The first thing that cropped into my mind was losing my mum, never did I ever think I would get through it and by that I don’t mean ‘get over it’ – instead come to terms with the reality and learn to accept.  So today I sat down and wrote a list of my ‘hurdles’ that I have overcome, the achievements I’ve made – some bits made me laugh and some cry, but now I feel angry with myself for sitting there, moaning and always saying to my family and friends, I’m 26 I’ve done nothing with my life – still no degree no job and alone. All of us tend to do this, we are our own worst enemies at times and taking ten minutes out of your day to make a list of your own achievements to show you your own strength and resilience will if anything, be an eye opener. So I say do it! Nothing bad comes from seeing how far we’ve come and what truly matters to us at this present moment.

Now my body may feel like my enemy at times, but maybe its a sign to slow down and not rush into things – after all as they say, its a marathon, not a sprint.  What’s important to remember, in particular for myself is I always thought there would be an end to this journey, partly because I focused on the illness itself as being the big picture. But no, this was just a mere blip along the way, I’m still on my journey, and this brief setback will only take up a small chapter in my book. I recall back to one of my previous posts, talking about Bilbo off on his journey in The Hobbit (yes I watched it again for the 6th time last week) and how he wasn’t sure if he’d return – the important part to remember is when we do return what kind of person will we be. At that time I wasn’t sure what version of me would come out of this side of the tunnel, and I’m still not sure.. I’d say I’m still a work in progress!! Can you believe it I have just over a year of treatment left inshAllah?! After that I will be a freeeee women with crazy ass long hair, yes indeed. Speaking of which, I’ve been recording my own little hair growth journey and can I just say people – don’t take your hair for granted, my wannabe afro literally has a mind of its own, and any tips to regrow my mane will be greatly appreciated! Currently resigning myself to the fact that I look like a little curly haired school girl/boy.

I always seem to disregard this bit but thank you to all of you who take time out to read this, I know its mostly my own ramblings of my life but I love how we can always learn things and intertwine other peoples experiences into our own.  In this case, to end all I will say is God gave me everything I could have asked for, the love, support and the strengthening of friendships and bonds almost makes this whole ordeal worth it. For now, I promise to concentrate on just me, the hurdle ahead, and the people constantly by my side who I owe everything to.

So like the title says, never let a stumble be the end of your journey 🙂

Love, x

 

If this is your first visit, please do check out my previous posts, if anything, me droning on might just be a good way to put yourself to sleep.

Cancerversary

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Good things come to those who wait..

Mirror, Mirror

“Never feast with those who didn’t starve with you”

I’m negative! (In a positive way)

Fight 3, Round 1

Broken Mind

“Newman’s first law: It is useless to put on your brakes when you’re upside down.”

 

Cancerversary

The dread I had of this time of year coming around again seems to have surprised me somewhat. I remember waiting anxiously, looking at the dates, recalling detail by detail how I first went into hospital, what exact time I was diagnosed, when my first session of chemo started. Amongst my family and friends there were many conversations starting with “This time last year we were…” But yet there were no tears, no breakdowns and no horrific nightmares of reliving everything that had happened just a mere year ago.  It was as if this whole experience has been a dream, and now finally I’ve woken up and can see it all clearly for what it was – just a mere blip in the grand scheme of things.

This year has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride and although the end is yet not in sight, I can only be grateful for all the beautiful moments I’ve been lucky enough to experience. I was able to see the most amazing friends graduate, spend time with my family, somehow find myself again when things seemed almost hopeless and meet people on this journey that have changed my life. I can only thank every single person who was there, who held my hand and who continue to be a beacon of light for me when I lose my way. Loneliness is truly a gift, and I definitely recommend everyone take some time out to be alone, although not everyone is a bum like me with nothing to do! We can learn so much from ourselves and our thoughts that now I feel like my inner monologue has become the voice of reason in this somewhat unreasonable world – usually a great thing for introverts like me *high five*

I recall some months ago as I sat at the hospital waiting for an appointment, a young boy walked up to the consultant who also happened to be mine and said ‘Thank you for saving my Mum’. So simply put, the gratefulness and emotion that was shown in a single statement brought me to tears (nothing to do with how much of an emotional wreck I am of course) We take for granted the healthcare we are provided with and although we may all have had good and bad experiences it’s important not to forget that there is good and bad everywhere, in every profession. By painting everyone with the same brush we are undermining those doctors who work tirelessly at the forefront to help, treat, cure, and save our lives every single day. I can without a shadow of a doubt say I would not be here without the doctors I encountered, not just them, but the numerous healthcare professionals I had the privilege to meet. They kept me comfortable, sane, and most importantly – breathing. As someone who has also been lucky enough to see what it’s like on the other side, I can only tell you that these healthcare professionals are still undermined, overworked and underpaid and with the way our government is handling this issue the NHS will not last very long at all. It’s extremely easy to point fingers and complain about the healthcare in this country but what would people like me have done without it? So to those of you that are reading this, please take a little time out to read about what junior doctors are currently going through with changes in their contracts and how they need everyone’s support at this time in order to fight to provide us with the greatest level of care.

At this moment in time if there is one little bit of advice or wisdom (yes really) that I can part with it’s that every single one of us should take life with both hands and really, really make the best of it. Every day, every minute, every second should count, so that by the time we close our eyes to journey off into the dreamworld we can nod off with a smile that we didn’t let a single moment go to waste. I can only speak for myself in saying that however much I wish this year hadn’t happened I can only be grateful for what I’ve gained – strength I never knew I had, love and support one could only dream of and the revelation of how beautiful people can be. The best things truly happen when we least expect it and every thing that does, happens for a reason – the only thing we can do is embrace it with open arms and realize that resisting any of the hurdles life throws at us will only make the path rockier. If I can still be here a year later, alive, breathing and happy then that has got to count for something, right?

Now signing off with a little bit of real wisdom (!)

“Whatever happens to you, don’t fall in despair. Even if all the doors are closed, a secret path will be there for you that no one knows. You can’t see it yet but so many paradises are at the end of this path. Be grateful! It is easy to thank after obtaining what you want, thank before having what you want.”  – Shams Tabrizi

Wishing everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you all!

Love x

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Just a handful of days ago I had my last chemo session of my last cycle of my last phase (for now!) I’d been looking forward to this day for so long that when it came and went, I was somewhat… downhearted? I’m not sure what I expected to be honest – fanfare? A feeling I was suddenly 100% myself again? A part of me is missing almost and I feel a little lost. Now I’m not saying I miss the daily trips to the Marsden or the chemo or anything else! But I just do miss the routine, the feeling that I’m actively doing something to help myself.

Treatment goes on, but now I’m in my ‘maintenance phase’ so it’s chemo and procedures every three months now, alhamdulillah. Better than the constant daily battle it felt like it has been for the last 9 months!

I haven’t written in a while, every week I would be reminded by my sister, and I would write it in my diary that by the end of the week I need to have a new post up! But I just never got round to it.. I had an awful month with the treatment in between – no sleep, constant pain which nothing LITERALLY nothing could relieve. Pain + insomnia = worst possible combination. I was basically a zombie – a crying, not with it, delerious zombie on steroids, just because the chemo on its own wasn’t fun enough obviously.  The number of blood transfusions I had to have was frustrating, but you won’t hear me complaining, the energy boost literally had me bouncing off the walls!!! But again, alhamdulilah, I got through it, no matter how many tears I shed and how close I was to giving up I didn’t. And I still haven’t.

On a more positive note I’ve had a number of occasions over the last couple of months that I had to look forward to! Most importantly, was graduation. Quite possibly the best day I’ve had through this entire ordeal, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that proud. I was in two minds about whether I would be able to go/even manage the journey, so much so that I could hardly sleep; but at 7am there I was getting myself ready and off with my personal chauffeur/photographer (the brother). The day was just beautiful, absolutely perfect, and every single one of my friends deserved all of it after such a long and testing 6 years. I was so excited to see friends that I had not seen in ages and be there on possibly the most special day of their lives. (You better all be there when its my turn!!)

Needless to say, I was smiling the whole journey back even though I was straight back to the Marsden for treatment.

We also had weddings to attend, and going through the whole process of getting ready and dressed up made me almost feel like my old self! Although I did spend most of the night asking my sisters if I still looked okay/like a human being, to the point where I’m certain I was going to wake up the next morning with a black eye from one of them. Still, it was a wonderful night even if it did end with me dragging myself up the stairs to bed, shoes, hair and eyelashes in hand.

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My loves. (We’re not this happy in real life)

Does she remind you of someone? Starts with Diddy ends in Kong.

Does she remind you of someone? Starts with Diddy ends in Kong.

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I know I look like I could punch someone, but it was the end of the night and all I wanted was my bed.

I know I look like I could punch someone, but it was the end of the night and all I wanted was my bed.

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Poppa and Mr Fredricksen

Poppa and Mr Fredricksen

All this girl needs is food.

All this girl needs is food.

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I don’t know what I can say about the last 9 months, I don’t know whether this has made me a better or more importantly a stronger person, and I don’t know whether this journey is truly over. But I thank Allah every day, that I am still here, that I have the most wonderful family and friends, that He gave me the most beautiful gift – my father. I can never thank Allah enough or everyone that has been there for me, duas truly have helped me get through and still be here getting healthier and stronger every single day.

So I have another 9 months now, to do the things I probably won’t get a chance to do once I’m back in my final year and busy with everything life will bring me. No excuse for me not posting, and no excuse for not completing that long bucket list I’ve made!!

Lastly, just to end off this essay of me blabbering on to myself, to those people who are going through their own tests and trials – never think that you are alone. Be grateful for everything you are given. Always keep faith. And take every single day as it comes. Recipe for success yeeees indeedy.

And to those of you who receive my delerious ‘zopi texts’ in the middle of the night, I hope you enjoy them. You won’t have them for too much longer!!!

I’m almost certain I’ve added this quote somewhere in my posts before, but it’s my absolute favourite so here it is again!

“There’s something amazing about this life. The very same worldly attribute that causes us pain is also what gives us relief: Nothing here lasts. What does that mean? It means that the breathtakingly beautiful rose in my vase will wither tomorrow. It means that my youth will neglect me. But it also means that the sadness I feel today will change tomorrow. My pain will die. My laughter won’t last forever but neither will my tears. We say this life isn’t perfect. And it isn’t. It isn’t perfectly good. But, it also isn’t perfectly bad, either.”
Yasmin Mogahed

Promise to write again… I won’t say soon though.

Love, x

Good things come to those who wait..

Where is the time going?! It’s June already, and I still feel like it was yesterday I was moving into halls in my very first year of uni.  I still remember the walks to and from uni, the nervousness of going on placement for the first time, and making new friends; friends I had no idea would eventually become like family.

Again, it has been far too long since I last wrote. No chemo, nothing, nada in this last month or so. Instead, endless delays and every single week there’s a new excuse, as if my body is putting up barriers preventing anymore of this evil (albeit lifesaving) drug from entering my body again.  The first week I was unwell, the second my platelets were too low. Then last week my blood haemoglobin levels were too low, so I ended up with two units of blood. And Monday off I trotted again to the Marsden with my dad in tow, and I had an infection so here we are. Another week gone by, another week wasted. I was hoping with every breath in me that I would be done with this treatment by atleast mid June, but I’m still stuck counting down the weeks till this is over; I know I know I should be grateful I’m even getting this treatment. The mere thought of me being in a different country with no NHS, no trials, makes me shudder. Alhamdulillah, I’m being treated at the best hospital by one of the best consultants in the specialty, even if the treatment hadn’t worked, alhamdulillah for being given the chance to try and fight back.

However, the break hasn’t been all bad, my energy seems to have gone back up, I’m able to do more things at home, and go out a little more than I did before. There’s only so much TV one can take; yep that is ME saying this. I started watching the prison break series again (MY FAVOURITE SERIES EVERRRR!!) and I got my dad into it too. He got so engrossed that we ended up having a prison break marathon one weekend, we both didn’t want to move and he was literally sitting on the edge of the seat; wish I’d taken a photo now!!!

The final year exams are over, (I know I wanted to go back to uni, but exams? No thanks) so I had the chance to reunite with some of my wonderful friends, I laughed so much that my jaw ached (nothing a couple of codeine couldn’t fix) and without a doubt I went to sleep smiling that night. Tomorrow I meet with another couple of friends, and I’m already looking forward to it. Spending most of my day around children who can’t understand me nor can I them, has been entertaining, yet I’m literally turning into a punchbag for my little sister Hafsah. She’s an angry old man stuck in an almost 2 year old’s body.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Although I can usually only divide up the day by what times I take my magic pills (the legal drugs), the little understanding I have from my niece bearing in mind she’s only 2, brings me my medicine box, and continuously throughout the day asks me “do you want dayi (medicine)”. She’s reminded me on many occasions to take them when I’ve almost forgotten. Kids can be so sensitive sometimes, and I love seeing that side to them! But when the screaming and arguing starts count me out (won’t lie I do wind them up sometimes, got to give myself a li’l entertainment) but being able to be home, and watch them all grow has been invaluable. I always worried about how when I would graduate, start working insh’Allah I wouldn’t have much time; but now I have that opportunity, to spend time with my family, so yes, every cloud does have a silver lining. Going back to how sensitive kids can really be, on one occasion I was leaning on my knees only to stretch my back – and my little sister came and started rubbing my back. She’d obviously seen how my dad would rub my back to comfort me whilst I was being sick, and remembered! Even though I wasn’t actually feeling unwell and I’m glad I wasn’t, it was still so heartwarming.

My stylish helper

My stylish helper Marwah

I was having a look back through my diary, and the detailed notes and questions I’d written each day in my first few months after diagnosis made me realise how I was in control of everything that was happening. I mean you’d expect anyone to, but the daily notes on my weight, how much I was losing, my blood sugars on a 4 hourly basis, what I’d eaten, how many glasses of water I’d drank; now I’m lucky if I remember what I ate this morning let alone write it down!! My OCD of being organised and orderly is still there, but I’ve let go of the nitpicky things. I know I don’t eat well, I know I’m losing weight, so I just remember to keep on top of it, at this moment in time I only need enough strength to get through the last bout of treatment; that’ll be enough!

Today I told my brother how bored I was, his answer  – write a novel. Although I know he was only joking, maybe I should make myself write more here, and in the end compile all my posts together in a little book. Don’t worry it’ll be free, and even if you don’t want to read it I’ll send you a copy!

Seen as I’m currently waiting for my dad so we can get back to watching an episode of prison break I’ll finish with a quote from one of the characters. You can guess who it is, and if you do, you can give yourself a pat on the back!!

Until next time,

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Love x

Mirror, Mirror

I don’t know where the time is going, or what I can say I’ve done/achieved in the last few months; instead I feel like I’ve been in some kind of slumber, half asleep ninety percent of the time.  The last three weeks there’s been a delay in my chemo, first due to low blood counts and then secondly due to a viral infection which lead to a weeks stay in hospital. This last stretch of chemo seems to be taking the longest and at times I wish I could just be put to sleep and wake up when its all over.  Nausea and vomiting and general tiredness has taken its toll  on me and my inability to at times make it to the top of the stairs without becoming breathless has left me on the edge of tears one too many times. No longer able to eat my favorite foods, mostly because I’ve lost my appetite (I would welcome any one to find it for me – for a cash prize of course) is something I thought would become easier with time, but instead it’s harder; much harder. The decision between eating just to end up vomiting against not eating and feeling even more nauseous has been what my life has consisted of the last few weeks – FUN FUN FUN!

In total I have 6 treatment weeks left, seems like nothing at all considering everything that I’ve already had, but the delays and general hiccups are making it difficult to see an end in sight.  But alhamdulilah, looking back at what the last 5 months?! It seems crazy that so much time has gone by, and I am still here. Still going. Alhamdulilah.

For the longest time I have always had relatives, friends, telling me how I reminded them of my mum. That I looked so alike to her – but I never saw it, only in an odd photo by chance I would catch a glimpse of her. But just two days ago, the second time that my hair has all fallen out, I looked in the mirror and I saw my mum staring back at me. There I was, wearing pretty much the exact same nightie I remembered her wearing, hairless, with an aged and tired face. What saddened me more is that my family had to and have to see me this way – we can never truly understand the impact illness has to those closest to us. Helplessness is an understatement, I know the feeling, and now that I think about it I don’t know what is worse – seeing someone I love go through this or going through it myself.

Loss is part of this life, in one way or another we will lose things, possessions, people, feelings, but what we gain out of it is always worth it in the end. As strong as my conviction was from the first day that I would steamroller my way through this with courage and strength, I lost myself on the way to things that never should have been a distraction. I’d gotten so caught up in this world, in people and my own feelings that praying for strength and concentrating on my health didn’t seem to matter anymore. I still can’t say I’ve learnt to let go and look at what is important; I’ve become too much of a glass half empty kinda gal that needs a constant source of love and care to feel secure. But could I have any more love than I have right now? Do I even have the right to ask for more? Not at all. I’ve been given more than my fair share, and most of you who read this probably appreciate life much more than I do, but never, ever, forget to be grateful.

Ever read a book you felt was literally about you?? I was gifted a beautiful book by an even more beautiful friend, and after reading just the first chapter I felt like it was written for me. It talks about losing yourself to this world, by becoming so distracted by people, by materialistic posessions that we forget what holds true value. In a way, I feel like this had happened to me, not just once for a moment, but it had continuously been getting worse and worse over a number of years to the point where I didn’t know how to find my way again. The months before I was diagnosed I felt this niggling thought growing in the back of my mind, feeling more restless, more anxious, questioning my life and my decisions. That coupled with the tiredness in the final few weeks, led to part of me not even being surprised when the bombshell was finally dropped. It’s as if my mind knew there was something wrong, that I’d spent far too much time concentrating on meaningless thoughts and it was time for me to come back down to earth again.

As the next few weeks come by, and I stop myself wondering what I would be doing and where I would be had none of this happened I’m praying for all my friends, most of whom will be sitting the most important exams of their life. This time is theirs and I have no doubt they will all do well and make me proud! My aim right now – be done with this stint of treatment and able to see them graduate!! I feel somewhat sad that even though we all started our journey together to become doctors I couldn’t complete it with them. But I pray, whenever the time is right and God wills it I will also have the chance to complete what I started. For now I’ll stick with getting through the next few months!

(I finally got the chance to see the last Hobbit – oh the eggcitement! And Thorin Oakenshield officially became my favourite character, no surprise that I will leave with his words then)

Thorin Oakenshield: If more people valued home above gold, this world would be a merrier place.

It would indeed.

I promise to try not to leave too long till my next post!!!

Love x

I saw the picture below and just had to add it – this is literally my life right now.

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“Never feast with those who didn’t starve with you”

When I first saw this quote some weeks ago on Facebook, I saved it. I’m not sure what my interpretation of it was at the time, but maybe through eye opening experiences over these last 3 months I truly felt like this quote was right, just, fair, and truly the way things should be.

But when you look deeper  (And you know by now I love doing that.) I think what it may really mean is somewhat the opposite than what you initially see. Appreciation is at the core of this message, appreciate the people who are there when you are starving/suffering/struggling, because these are the people you will be able to rely on for the rest. of. your. life. Never forget them. When the dust finally settles, and you see that light at the end of the tunnel these are the people who will be waiting at the other end.

I’ve never been a person to have loads of friends, but I have always been overly sensitive and overly reliant on the few people that I have kept in my life.  In a way it is unfair, both to myself and the person on the receiving end because I have always ended up expecting the same that I would give myself. Just because one person would go above and beyond for another it doesn’t mean that they would do the same; and that’s the harsh reality, that being sensitive, overly in touch with humanity is not something that everyone possesses. I will be the first to admit that I have expected more from the people that surround me, purely because I felt that I could – but when you feel let down or don’t get what you expect, you learn a lesson, one that I know no doubt my fellow sensitivees (I just made that up) will understand.

But in reality what our focus should be on – mine more than anyone’s, are the people that stand not behind or beside you but infront of you, like a shield, determined to not let you down, or ever let you go.  The perfect example of this would be my father – my angel, my father, my mother, my friend. He has always been my priority and nothing can come before him, and these last few months the way we have grown closer has made me feel like there truly was a reason behind this entire journey – I have always felt like my feelings with him have been in tune, my ability to sense the smallest reaction whether it was sadness or anger has made me feel that much more that we are one and alike, both branches from the same tree that yearns for love, care, and nurture. Having just a single person through any adversity can be what saves you.

Part of me always wonders what would life be like if I was still at uni, preparing for the biggest exams of my life, planning away the summer when I would finally graduate, and then start working for real. Where would my family be? Would life go right back to the way it was before any of this had happened?  I have always been a dreamer and I’d probably spent months thinking and wondering about my future, and at times I still do – old habits die hard. But I’ve learnt to stop myself in my tracks, just think of one day at a time, and leave to one side the elaborate plans I’d made for myself. No one knows whats around the corner but equally that doesn’t mean you allow everything to come to a standstill. You still have hope, prayer, and your own determination that you will achieve every single dream if you want it hard enough. And speaking for myself alhamdulillah by the grace of the Almighty, I am still here, but I wasn’t the one who hoped and prayed hard enough, the credit for that goes to my family and the friends and people that were there.

Now, as I sit here in the hospital, somewhat tearful and heavy hearted, I can only say that life is too short. Everyone will encounter difficult times at some point, they could all be the same but the way we react is never the same. Everyone’s struggle is their own, no one can take it for them because at the end of the day when we all close our eyes we’re alone – just like we entered this world alone we will leave alone, and that span of time we have in between is our own to make of it what we will.

Ok, I think I need to take on the job of Mrs Motivator – after I’ve depressed the hell out of you first!

Getting a little off topic I had a little encounter of my own at 4am this morning with a lovely new healthcare assistant who had come to check on me, she did all her observations and as she was about to leave in my half woken state I said nice to meet you, and her reply – to meet you nice. I’m not sure why it put a smile on my face but I assure you, the little things count.

As always I like to leave with something, today I won’t choose a quote but a sweet conversation I had with my nephew.

‘Khala (Aunty) you’re the best in the milkyway’

‘Why not the universe??’

a short pause…ok but how about the milkyway??’

‘But I want to be the best in the universe, the universe is the biggest’

‘Ok. How about the best in the galaxy then?’

At this point I resigned myself to the fact that I would not win against this three year old, and I should just settle with the Milkyway. Well.. atleast that’s something?

Love x