More than just cancer

Published: March 28, 2014
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I dreamt of being beautiful again; having long, shiny hair and glowing skin. I dreamt of having a normal life now and how I would plan my future. PHOTO: AFP

I stared at him, not being able to comprehend what he had just said.

Had I heard correctly?

Was he really saying what I had just heard?

Did those words really come out of his mouth?

Tears started welling up in my eyes and my hands started trembling. I felt as if the whole world had just come to a halt. I looked at the person sitting next to me, equally astonished.

What is this?

My doctor had just told me that I had stage three cancer and that I would require surgery urgently to stop the cancer from spreading even further in my body.

I just could not accept it – how could I?

It was part of my body; how could I just cut something off like that?

How would I feel after that?

How would people look at me?

Would I ever get married?

I started thinking about everything all at once; the thoughts came in a rush, flooding my mind. My mother, who was a mess too, tried to calm me down but I could see that she was struggling.

Why did it have to happen to me?

What have I ever done wrong to deserve this?

I am not ready for this. How the hell can anyone ever be?

Cancer… but I pray regularly, give zakat (almsgiving), help the poor too.

So then… why?

How could this have happened to me?

The doctor explained that since it is stage three cancer, they needed to act upon their findings immediately. The surgery was urgent and necessary. I was then told that after the surgery I would have to start chemotherapy and radiation therapy, coupled with multiple blood tests and hospital visits.

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to go for it.

What choice did I have, anyway?

The surgery began and I was a wreck. I stayed up all night praying to God to help me get through this. My mother was by my side the entire time, throughout the treatment.

The chemo and radiation therapy was painful and tiring at the same time. I soon realised that I did not even have enough energy to lift myself off my bed anymore.

I began losing my hair; my beautiful, black hair that made every girl at university envy me. I was always nauseous. I sat there, with my shaky hands and bald head, looking at other people enjoying their lives.

My mother was always either weeping or praying for me. She stood by me throughout and I cannot thank her enough; I will always always love her for that.

When my doctor told me that they have successfully removed the cancer from my body, I was elated. We all prayed and thanked God for the strength He gave us during the traumatic experience. No more chemo, no more radiation and, thank God, no more hospital visits!

I slept like a baby that night – relaxed, contended and happy. God helps you in surprising ways.

I dreamt of being beautiful again; having long, shiny hair and glowing skin. I dreamt of having a normal life now and how I would plan my future. But the next morning when I woke up, I saw my mother weeping away right next to me.

I shook her and asked her why she was crying.

She didn’t reply.

I got out of bed and went to the other room.

My dad was crying too.

I asked him what was wrong. He looked at me but he didn’t say a word.

Now I was really worried. I know that my dad would hide things from me just so that I don’t get upset.

But I was upset, my mom and dad were both crying and I didn’t know why. I needed to understand and he needed to tell me.

I yelled and demanded for him to respond. He looked straight at me – with a blank look in his teary eyes. Looked straight at me… but he wasn’t looking at me because I died that night. I slept straight into the grips of death, peacefully, blissfully, dreaming about my future.

I am not a part of your life anymore, dad. You mustn’t cry.

I am not alive anymore, mom. Don’t weep.

I am at peace… I miss you but I am at peace.

saima.shivji

Saima Shivji

She is currently working as the Project Coordinator of School Outreach Tours at Citizens Archive of Pakistan. She loves reading books, hanging out with friends and listening to good music.

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