2010: The year my mother didn’t die

Published: December 17, 2010
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Cancer is a deadly disease that is expensive to treat

The eve of a new year brings hope and the promise of positive expectations to all. There is a chance to believe in dreams again. A hope that the resolutions left unfulfilled last year may finally be achieved in the new one.

I was also excited about the year 2010. It would be the year when I would go back to my beloved Pakistan after completing my higher education in the UK. I was excited about meeting my family and rediscovering my home city , Lahore from the eyes of someone who has been away from home for so long and has learnt to treasure all the quintessential Lahori qualities. It was a happy beginning. But life is unpredictable.

My new year’s nightmare

My mother was diagnosed with a rare cancer in the leg in February. What followed was a nightmare of conducting tests to ensure the cancer hadn’t spread. We were recommended by a family friend, who was a highly renowned surgeon, to get the malignant tumor removed by the head surgeon of a reputed hospital-whom I will refrain from naming. The operation was conducted in March, and the tumor removed successfully. On further lab results, we discovered the tumor had been wrongly diagnosed and it was in fact benign. We were in shock. God had listened to our prayers. A miracle was the only explanation we could fathom from our experience when so many different tests had all pointed to one thing: a malignant tumor.

The wounds time would not heal

We brought Mom home and looked forward to her healing and returning to normal life. We eagerly waited to see her energetic, tiny frame bustling through the house. And we waited. And waited some more. But something was amiss.

The pain wouldn’t go. My mother’s health deteriorated as she stayed awake night after night in severe pain, which the surgeon explained was due to the tumour’s proximity to the Sciatic nerve.

Time waits for no one. The days swept by as we tried different medicines and tests hoping to ease Mom’s pain. It was soon July. We finally decided to change doctors. What the new doctor told us shook us all.

Hectic running around and numerous tests later, our worst fear were confirmed. The operation had not removed the tumor at all. It was now three times larger. But how could such extreme negligence ever be possible? The mind sometimes refuses to believe what it doesn’t want to. But that’s only possible if you have the luxury of time to ignore the inevitable.

A tumor that was never removed

The surgeon had been the head of one of the best hospitals in Lahore. This was supposed to happen only in movies when operations were conducted by inexperienced doctors. This was not supposed to happen to anyone – in my life, and especially not my mother. I needed explanations but those would have to wait. Right now, it was pertinent that we got the right treatment.

I don’t think there is anything more traumatic than waiting for test results of this nature. Yet, God is kind. The tumor was still only in her leg. However, they would now have to amputate Mom’s leg from the hip joint.

If the previous surgery was successful-this would not have been necessary.

The end of the year

This time we took our mother to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. To ensure Mom’s comfort we tried to procure a room-but there were no single rooms in the hospital. There were double beds, separated by curtains to make sure doctors treated rich and poor patients equally. I had never before heard of a hospital having no single rooms and I deeply respect the concept.

The operation was successful and Mom’s leg, along with the tumour, was removed from her body. My mother was finally cancer free.

I sit and ponder on the events that defined 2010 for me. I believe that underneath all the pain and troubles lies a beautiful lesson. I remember as I sat with my mother in the operation theatre before her operation, an old lady sat with us whose grand-daughter was awaiting chemotherapy. The girl was 10 years old but she could easily be five. She was stick thin, bald and very weak. However, her grandmother was happy that at least she was getting treated, since they had assumed that due to limited resources, all would be lost.

What touched me the most was how many young children were suffering from such a deadly disease – which can brings adults to desperation. I can only salute their courage and that of their families. But wait…is that really all I can do? Is that really all you can do? The beauty of being human is the power to make change happen. And what better way than bringing hope to someone’s life?

The gift of hope

There is still time for us to make 2010 a special year. Personally, I would like to do that by trying to bring hope in the life of one affected by cancer. An easy way for you to do the same is through an SMS. I am going to copy paste the following from the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Page on Facebook:

A life depends on your SMS; Send a blank SMS to the number 7770 to donate Rs. 20 (+tax) through any network in Pakistan at anytime to support the treatment of poor cancer patients of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre.

2010 has taught me that life is short and it is important to value each moment. To help our loved ones, make life meaningful and best case scenario – create the miracle of hope in some one’s life.

I believe if even one of you reads this and donates then my 2010 has been extremely meaningful and fulfilling.

Amna Khalid

Amna Khalid

An economics major from LUMS, with a MSc in financial economics from Cardiff University. Khalid currently works in London. She blogs at surreallist.blogspot.com/

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

  • Ali

    Very nicely written, may Allah bless Pakistan in this new year and give patience and happiness to your mother.

    At the same time (without wanting to make this post political), I’m confused as to why we do not give the founder of this revolutionary hospital a chance to lead Pakistan to a brighter future. He’s proved himself more than any other man. But even if he doesn’t get a chance from this ignorant nation, he has truly left his legacy and inspired not just athletes but philanthropists, doctors, and all.Recommend

  • tayyab anwar

    touching piece written by the writer . . ,. no one except the bearer of the tragedy can understand what s it like. any how this piece has personally motivated to donate…….Recommend

  • xyz

    May Allah bless you and your mother….shaukat khanam is even better than AKUH for tumours.
    surely i’ll donate some and Happy New Year !!!Recommend

  • Sadaffayyaz

    :(( sad after reading it………..Recommend

  • http://www.habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    @Amna khalid, I must say ur positive and optimistic outlook on life even after such dark times is really impressive. May God bless ur mother with health and long life!Recommend

  • Erfan

    Touched. Not sure if the sms would work from Afghanistan. But will try!Recommend

  • Marium Kaludi

    Thats a lesson for all of us to learn.
    May Allah give strength and courage to patients and their family members, AND improve the health services in the land of Pure.Recommend

  • http://www.spearheadresearch.org Shemrez Nauman Afzal

    I just smsed and prayed for your mother… I’m going to start by sending one sms a day to 7770, and lets see where it goes from there. Best of luck :)Recommend

  • parvez

    Thank you for writing this and sharing your experience. Recommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com unseen-eccentric

    Amna,
    The events that you had to deal with in 2010 can only be imagined by us but we can never truly feel what you had to go through. It is unfortunate the kinds of tests God puts us through sometimes, but there is a grand design for all of us. I would like to hear more about the surgeon who first operated on your mothers leg. Negligence and poor ethical behavioural by medical doctors in Pakistan is becoming far too common and it needs to be addressed on a wider scale. I hope you pursue litigation in this case, if not for compensation than at least to bring light to an issue that needs attention. It is pleasing to hear that you have learned something out of the whole ordeal, it is important for us to live, before we die :)

    Good Luck.Recommend

  • Fahad

    Its a shame that numerous such cases are coming up frequently these days in Pakistan. Wishing your mom a very healthy and happy life ahead. Ameen
    Although Im outside of Pakistan but I will make sure I pass on your message to my friends back home.Recommend

  • Gulraiz Khan

    Wow. this was an extremely personal and moving piece.Recommend

  • talal ahmed

    hey nice success story
    How can i write my success story of fight against cancerRecommend

  • Amna

    I am happy for you and your family. May Allah keep your mother and all mothers in good health always.

    Shaukat Khanum hospital is truly a miracle in a place like Pakistan.Recommend

  • Rizwan

    I hope your aspirations for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital (SKMCH) will not go wasted…and I also pray for the success of organization including SKMCH which have done wonders for economically devastated masses. Recommend

  • A.S Ahmed

    A very touching and moving story. Allah had willed your mother to live so she survived. But what about those people who loose the battle of life because of these so called butcher doctors i call them.
    Everyday passing day we read stories in the papers that they do all kinds of unethical things and commit blunders and get away with it.

    May Allah protect us from these dreadful diseases and doctors in the future. Ameen.Recommend

  • arbab

    more of a story than article ……………… but a story that carries two important messages:
    1. The beauty of being human is the power to make change happen
    2. hope is a good thing (maybe the best)….
    i think even by narrating such a simple story, giving such simple yet meaningful messages accomplishes your job as a writer…….

    gud one!!!!! Recommend

  • life is beautiful

    very touching. I hope and pray that your mom lives for many years to come without any further pain and suffering. My grandmother passed away in 2003 because of intestinal cancer just before i was supposed to give my O’level finals…The cancer had devoured her life in under 6 months. Every time i used to see her in pain, i used to pray to God that if You can’t heal her and if You can’t make her pain go away then just take her to Gardens of eternal bliss. When she passed away, i was obviously very sad as i was very attached to her, but i was also grateful to God for putting an end to her suffering.
    My mother and both of her sisters are suffering from cancer. One of my khalas got chemotherapy and eventually got one her breasts removed.Alhamdulilah, she has recovered completely now and teaches in a renowned private school. My mom and my other Khala are taking medication and by grace of God they are living healthy lives.
    I have always looked at these afflictions as test of faith from Allah (swt). Life is beautiful and precious and a wonderful gift from God. i am thankful to God for giving me such a wonderful family and i always pray for their well being…
    I would just like to give a message here: please do not take this life for granted and respect your parents always.May Allah (swt) keep us and our families safe from the menace of cancer and other horrendous diseases and may Allah(swt) make the transition into spiritual world for all of us smooth and peaceful. Recommend

  • N Khan

    im really touched to read this. may allah give your mother the strength to go through this. it really is a blessing to have a hospital like shaukat khanum hospital in our country.Recommend

  • Amna Randhawa

    Dearest Amy,
    I love your spirit. I know you and the family has been thru a lot. May Allah bless you and family with every hapiness and health aameen.Recommend

  • http://NoURL Jonaid Iqbal

    My mother died in May two years ago. It was a slow painful death, diagnosed as double pneumonia. But I wonder whether it was cancer- a typically maliase for those who are old (she was 87) Right now, I have my wife diagnosed with cancer six months ago. Though she is not old- not as old as my other- who died two years ago- she can’t stand the chemotherapy, which is at times deferred three days every time she goes to the hospital for the chemotherapy, which she hates. She describes it as shattering to the nerves flailing every part of the body each time she has the innoculation which results each time in more disorders, particulalry of unsetlled abdomen. Some times it is constipation, more often times it is diarrhoean, and some times bad liver- I suspect because she has to lie with no body movement- doctors suspect it may be hepatitis, but test results show it isn’t.Each time she goes for chemotherapy she has to have one or another test- consuming money and lots of time, because the chemotherapy has to be deferred until test results come in. Instead of imporvement she cries and prays all the time for death to relieve her of her misery. I wonder what would be better: to continue with the chemotherapy or just wait for end. Readings on the Internet suggest there is no certainty about treatments- and if there is remission it would be only for three years or so. An eminent physician an old friend of mone in London tells me there is no certain cure- and even reports can be misleading some time and the remission might be for three years or so. Is it worth all the expenditure or the waiting for the ultimate end?Recommend

  • Zubair

    very touching article..I myself went to Shawkat Khanam once to donate blood to child(about five years old). His parents were poor and they were satisfied from the treatment.Some days later i received call from his mother; she was overjoyed as his son was cured.I witnessed very good services in that hospital and for free. We cant get these kind of services even in big and expensive private hospitals. We must praise and pray for the founder of this hospital as he provided hope to the poor.Recommend

  • Taimour Farooq Bhatti

    touched n shocked…i will hope n pray for ur mother. my father died of cancer at the age of 53. its realy tough…doctors…wat can u say abt dem…i m shocked to read ur mothers story…bt may Allah give her health n happiness…take care of her n urself..always praying for u both…Recommend

  • Nwaq

    It is a touching real life story.May your mother live long with perfect health.I also want to add you should have written the name of that renowned surgeon who did wrong operation bcoz others need to be saved and warned.He should also be taken into account for his criminal negligence.By the way i have just shared my story on face book so there can b as many SMS as we can make.

    @Jonaid Iqbal I must say one should definitely go for chemotherepy,my sister in law had third stage breast cancer 6 years earlier.She went through surgery and later very severe chemo and radiation therepy but mashallah she is ok now.One must take chances for their dear ones.Recommend

  • Zaid

    The article is good, but essence of this article, should be the effort put by the founder of this hospital which is great blessing to us. In fact some of his other projects are doing very good like NAMAL University and now IKRF which has managed to collect 2.5 billion Rupees from Pakistan and oversees.

    I will invite all to join Pakistan Tehreek Insaf… and please visit PTI site.. insaf.pk. to get registered and share your thoughts to make Pakistan one of the greatest nation of the world. Recommend

  • Humanity

    I am sad that the first procedure was botched by an experienced doctor and perhaps covered up to cause the disease to spread. I am happy that the correct diagnosis and treatment saved your mother’s life. May Allah grant her the courage to move on and give her health to enjoy her life. They say, there is always a good reason for what every happens good or bad, though we may not understand it.

    A medical malpractice case must be considered to hold the medical profession accountable. They, like every other institution has no one to answer to. Who knows how may botched cases this doctor has hidden behind his years of experience. Is his degree real? I wouldn’t be so sure :(Recommend

  • Amna Khalid

    @Ali: Thank you for your kind comments and wishes for both mom and Pakistan. I agree Imran Khan has indeed inspired people from all fields of life, and has also given cancer stricken patients a place of hope for treatment. God bless him for that.

    @tayyab anwar: It is very gratifying to hear that my article may have played a small role in motivating you to donate. Thank you.

    @xyz: Thank you for your kind words. Glad to hear you are donating. Happy new year to you also.

    @Habiba Younis: Thank you for your kind comments. Ameen.

    @Erfan: There are many other ways to donate also, but thank you sincerely for making an effort despite being in Afghanistan.

    @Marium Kaludi: Ameen and InshAllah.

    @Shemrez Nauman Afzal: Thank you so much for your prayers. And I am very happy to hear about your great donation plans. God bless…Recommend

  • Amna Khalid

    @parvez: Thank you for reading and hopefully donating.

    @unseen-eccentric: I agree, everything does happen for a reason, though we may find it initially difficult to comprehend. I will seriously consider your advice. Thank you.

    @Fahad: It is indeed a shame, and the matter needs to be brought to the attention of the Pakistani people. Thank you for your prayers for mom and for spreading the article and hopefully getting donations inshAllah.

    @talal ahmed: Firstly congrats on winning the fight against cancer. You can write about your experience and treatment etc. I am sure it would be an enlightening article for many people whose families are suffering from this possibly fatal disease. Best of luck with your endeavor.

    @Amna: Thank you for your kind comments. Ameen and yes indeed, SKMH is really helping out many people suffering from cancer.

    @Rizwan: Prayers along with positively motivated actions can indeed make a difference to such valuable resources in our country.

    @A.S Ahmed: Ameen.

    @arbab: Thank you for your kind comments. I am glad my message was conveyed

    @life is beautiful: I am very sorry to hear about your grandmother. May Allah bless her soul with Jannat, Ameen. May Allah also grant your mother and khalas healthy and happy long lives ahead inshAllah. It is very commendable that you have managed to keep a positive outlook about taking all these incidents to be tests of Allah and valuing life MA. I wish you and your family health and happiness.Recommend

  • Amna Khalid

    @N Khan: Thank you and Ameen. I agree, it is a blessing to have a hospital like SKMH which specializes in cancer in our country, especially since cancer is sadly on the rise…

    @Amna Randhawa: Thank you soo much Lkmama. You have been very supportive throughout the year and that has always been greatly appreciated. hug

    @Jonaid Iqbal: I am very sorry to hear about your mother. May Allah bless her soul with Jannat, Ameen. I am also very sorry to hear about your wife. I honestly do not have much authority on a highly complicated subject such as cancer so I would refrain from giving any solid advice, but personally I am of the opinion that chemotherapy does help cancer patients and though it can be extremely painful, it is worth a try. I will pray for your wife, may Allah give her strength and health inshAllah.

    @Zubair: I agree it was indeed a noble deed that Imran Khan founded this hospital, and that too after his personal experience from watching his mother unsuccessfully fight cancer. He could not save his mother but he decided to try save the masses. That is sincerely commendable.
    @Taimour Farooq Bhatti: : Thank you very much for your kind comments and prayers. I am sorry to hear about your father, may Allah bless him with Jannat, Ameen.
    @Nwaq: Thank you for your kind comments and prayers for mom. I will seriously consider your advice. I appreciate you posting the article on fbook so the message can be spread further. God bless.Recommend

  • agha khuram

    Amna Khalid!
    I really admire your courage;how easily you have been able to put such grave tragedy into words,commendable.I totally agree with Ali and your comments on Imran Khan.Recommend

  • Fahad Naveed

    Love how personal this piece is. My mothers a cancer survivor herself and although we were fortunate enough to get the right treatments and some very good doctors, it was still the most trying period of our lives.
    This is a great initiative that you’ve taken, what an amazing way to start the new year :)Recommend

  • Leigh Webb

    Amna, 2010 has been a year of worry for your family.Your story says it all. I have been reading Mutjaba’s posts on the Acor list and have prayed that your mother would come through this. May 2011 be a year of new beginnings for you all . Sending love and healing prayers from AustraliaRecommend

  • K

    Wishing your mom a speedy recovery. May Allah bless her and everyone else’s parents. May Allah keep them alive and in good health, always. Ameen.Recommend

  • Amna Khalid

    @Humanity: I agree, everything does happen for a reason, though it may be beyond our understanding. I sincerely appreciate your well wishes towards mom. Thank you for your suggestions, I will also seriously consider your advice regarding a medical malpractice case.

    @agha khuram: Thank you for your kind comments. I do not really see it much as a matter of courage, it is more of a very small gesture to express my gratitude to a place that has helped save my mothers life and is in the process of saving many more lives inshAllah.

    @Fahad Naveed: I am glad to hear your mother survived cancer and is much better. It is indeed a trying time dealing with such a situation. Thank you for your kind words.

    @Leigh Webb: Thank you so much Leigh for your prayers, despite being so far away in Australia. I believe in prayers, and God can listen to anyone’s prayer at anytime. My brother Mujtaba has always praised the Acor list and other such resources on how informative they are and how useful the forums are to learn more about cancer. Love, gratitude and prayers to you from our family.

    @K: Thank you for your kind wishes towards mom. Parents are indeed a blessing. Ameen.Recommend

  • Jamal

    Dear Writer,
    Masha’ALLAH, good to know your mother, despite all the pains is fine now, though loss of a limb is very tragic, but ALHAMDULLILAH, she is alive and you can be with her. Also, it is for you to spend more time with her, look after her, take good care of her and ALLAH Ta’ala will bless you with lots n lots of SAWAB.
    I lost my father to cancer. It was 2007 when he met with HIM. One long n painful year of surgeries and chemotherapy sessions, but finally HIS orders prevail and we have to accept HIS decisions and have patience.
    One thing I’ll like to mention here for the information of everyone, there are 3 ways of cancer treatment after the removal of tumor; chemotherapy, radiotherapy and stem-cell. The first two are successful in case the patient is 35 or less, the stem-cell method is very successful but its still in research, which makes it very complex and costly; let’s hope the research on stem-cell makes it economically and medically feasible and cancer patients may start receiving benefit of this method.
    May ALLAH Ta’ala bless your mother with good health and all cancer patients with health and cancer-free life.Recommend

  • Amna Khalid

    My mother, whom I wrote about in this article, passed away on 12th January 2011. If reading, please pray that she is granted a place in Jannat, Ameen. A very pious and courageous lady and a 5 time Namazi since her childhood, daily MashAllah. And an amazing mother.Recommend

  • Jamal

    Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Illehe Rajioon… just offered Fatiha for her – may ALLAH Ta’ala bless her a beautiful place in Jannt-ul-Firdous in the neighborhood of Hazart Bibi Aisha Siddiqa (R.A), Hazrat Bibi Fatima (R.A) and other Paak Daaman women of Ahl-e-Bet Athaar – Aamen… have patience please…Recommend

  • Leigh Webb

    @Amna Khalid:
    I am sad to here the news that your mother has passed away. I will pray she is granted her place.
    Leigh and familyRecommend

  • Maria Khan

    I am sad to hear about your mother. May Allah grant a very special place to her in Jannat. Ameen. After reading this article there is no doubt that your mother was a very courageous lady and indeed she must have been an amazing mother that she taught you to be so optimistic and spread such positive messages to people around you. May Allah grant you and your family the patience and strength to suffer the loss. Ameen. May Allah bless you all.Recommend

  • http://surreallist.blogspot.com/ Amna Khalid

    @Jamal ; @Leigh Webb ; @Maria Khan:

    Thank you sincerely for your kind prayers for mom. Very much appreciated. God can listen to anyone’s dua (prayer). Thanks again and God bless.Recommend

  • Abdul-Mughis Rana

    ALLAH SWT is most merciful, the difficulties of this world like the one mentioned by the author shows that Insha ALLAH, she will be enjoying the best part of Janna’, Aameen! Recommend