Plans never work out… especially when you get cancer

Published: February 4, 2014

I have been diagnosed with renal sarcoma, a malignant cancer. This was not a part of my plans. PHOTO: AFP

My life was going according to plan; everything was going well. I had passed my first year of pre-medical with marks good enough to get me into a medical college and now my second year was almost over.

My father is a doctor as well and I have always looked up to him. He has always been my idol. The doctor genes run in the family; my sister is also on her way to becoming a doctor from King Edward Medical University (KEMU), one of the most prestigious medical colleges in Pakistan. Because of the gene pool, I aspired to be a doctor as well and was on my way to becoming one.

The two most crucial years of my life were about to pass without any hurdles. With only two more exams to go, the second year exams were about to finish and I would have been free. My hard work was paying off as I was doing well in my exams.

Life has always been kind to me up until five months ago when all of a sudden my life took a vicious turn and everything came crashing down.

It was during my exams that I received the news that my test results had come through; I could tell it was bad news.

I was diagnosed with renal sarcoma, a malignant cancer.

It was devastating on so many levels that it left me and my family in a state of numb shock for a while. We didn’t know what to do or how things can go from being positive and certain one day to being completely uncertain the next. My game plan was changing and my future was at stake.

I had to pull myself together, I couldn’t let this news get in my way, despite the emotional trauma it brought for me and for my family.

I just couldn’t let this get to me.

I was the eldest son and it was my responsibility to support my family emotionally as well as financially when the time came. If I lost my heart and gave up, everyone would have followed suit. I couldn’t let this happen, not while it was in my hands. So I made a decision and decided to go on with my life. I decided to give my two remaining exams and then the practical exams.

As soon as I got done with the exams, I had to undergo surgery; they had to operate to get the cancer out.

As a consequence of the surgery, I lost a kidney.

I will admit, life has been quite hard on me since the diagnosis.

At the moment, I am undergoing chemotherapy, which let me tell you is not a pretty thing. It drains the life out of you, leaving you weak and bleak. Everyone thinks that they’re strong enough to get through it but it is not that easy at all.

At this point you will realise that you have a choice to make – either you can let it take over and not struggle, or you can fight it till your very last breath.

I chose the latter.

I couldn’t let this cancer get the better of me and it was not in me to give up. I am a fighter and I fought with all the strength I had.

The three most important months of my life, in which I was supposed to prepare for the test, I spent lying in the hospital – first for the surgery and then for chemotherapy. Since the surgery left me very weak, I couldn’t get any coaching for the entry test and had to study and prepare for it on my own. I had to pull myself together and so I did. I couldn’t lose hope and let my hard work go down the drain just because life chose to be hard on me.

I took the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and scored 885. After that I had to take my FSc exam which I did and passed with a score of 972, giving me a collective score, of the two exams, of 84.98. Now I am waiting for the merit lists of University of Health Sciences (UHS) to see whether I secured a seat in a medical college or not. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see whether destiny will play yet another game on me or not and what fate has in store for me.

When I ask myself whether I deserve this break and whether I deserve to be a doctor, a voice inside of me questions my doubt and assures me that I deserve every bit of it since I have the calibre and determination to be a doctor, a good one. But then I start questioning life – it doesn’t always go the way you plan, I for one should know that better than anyone.

Will mine go the way I planned?

Yes! I do truly believe that I’m a fighter. If I can make sure that nothing stands in the way of my dreams, then I can take my life wherever I want it to go. Even though there has been a huge deviation from the original plan, my life will come back on track and every hurdle that I went through will be compensated for.

At least I hope so…



An alias has been used instead of the name of the blogger in order to maintain anonymity.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Saad

    Hang in there buddy. My dad survived cancer few years ago but now he’s been diagnosed with another one. Nothing goes as planned in life, its your willpower that can make things go your wayRecommend

  • Uza Syed

    Good choice! Keep kicking, with this spirit you have great chance to win this struggle and you will. Believe me it’s worth putting up a good & focused fight and you’d see— like I did! — that life is worth living after even cancer.Recommend

  • Unknown

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Don’t lose hope and I’m sure things will work out and your life will be back on track. All the very best to you! You are a true fighter.Recommend

  • AamAwam

    You are going to get through this. InshAllah you will get into that medical college and become the best doctor that you aspire to be. Amen
    You are a strong person. You will be in my prayers.Recommend

  • saman

    May Allah keeps you safe n healthy. Fight till your last breath !! You are a trooperRecommend

  • A Pakistani

    Its so heart wrenching buddy but I must admire your courage and the will to fight. I hope and pray you succeed in all aspects of life in sha Allah, amen.
    Just have faith in Allah and keep fighting though its not an easy thing.Recommend

  • Maleeha

    Your courage is admirable, MA!
    You sound pretty strong, keep moving.
    Also, in times of availability of extremely advance technology there’s no pt of loosing hope..

  • Nadia

    though you probably meant well, it is not a good idea to tell a patient fighting cancer, that another one might be on the way for him. Recommend

  • Saad

    Apologies for any misconception. If it makes it any better, he’s on his road to full recoveryRecommend

  • Talha

    I wish you all the best buddy. No struggle ever goes in vain. Keep your chin up and go with the flow and i am sure you’ll be there where you want to be.Recommend

  • Behlim

    Oh Allah! The Sustain er of Mankind! Remove the illness, cure the disease. You are the One Who cures. There is no cure except Your cure. Grant us a cure that leaves no illness. AmeenRecommend

  • KM

    Chin up, mister! Admire your strength and courage in these difficult times. Wish you the best – and hope you have a happy, healthy life ahead of you. May your treatment be successful, and you move on normally with life. Our prayers are with you.Recommend

  • Arooj ghufran

    Indeed its not a pretty thing when your body sheds cell by cell,may Allah give you a healthy normal life.Recommend

  • Syed


    Thanks for sharing your experience.. May be you could become an oncologist after you graduate and then build much better rapport with your patients…

    If I may suggest, I would strongly recommend you watch the “Last Lecture” from Randy Pausch on internet. Retiring professors from universities in US are often asked to give a last lecture which is usually about their life experiences etc. However Randy was suffering from Pancreatic cancer so when he gave his last lecture he knew it would truly be his last. This is however far from depressing lecture, in fact full of how a man achieved his childhood dreams and lived life to its full extent, and how other people can do so.
    It made me realize the importance of life and things that we take for granted.
    Best wishes for your recovery

    Kind regards; Recommend

  • Nimra

    Such an inspirational personality you own that too during such a critical stage of your life, I really admire you for that and it clearly shows your determination. I really really wish to see you in a medical college but I would want to suggest you to just relax and stay calm for sometime. Jaan hai tou jahan hai na? My heartfelt prayers are with you. KEEP BELIEVING !
    May Allah subhaan wa taa’la grant you peace, strength, and comfort (Ameen)Recommend