Stories about cancer

This Ramazan, go from smoking 20 to 4 cigarettes per day

Most Muslims who smoke refrain from smoking during the period of fasting, which may last up to 12-14 hours. Even after breaking their fast, most smokers smoke only a few cigarettes. Research has shown that somehow, during fasting, smokers do not have the urge to smoke. Those who smoke 25 cigarettes or more on a normal day, decrease the number of cigarettes to four or five a day during Ramazan. This provides an excellent opportunity for a smoker to get rid of this bad habit for good. With strong will power and a little extra effort, they can surely succeed in ...

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This World Blood Donation Day, roll up your sleeves and save a life!

I am a firm believer of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s words, “What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?” But in today’s world, kindness comes at a price. Many of us expect kindness to be a boomerang that will return to us someday. But expecting something in return kills the original idea of helping someone in need. There were plenty of things on my list that I need to change in this world, but first, I need to start from myself. Being an unconventional medical professional (doctor of pharmacy), I had minimum exposure to the positive attributes for blood donation. In fact, for ...

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8 things I wish I had never heard after being diagnosed with breast cancer

Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer among all Asian countries – one in nine Pakistani women will be diagnosed with this horrible disease. The diagnosis is a shock but the days after that are even harder to endure. I know this as I have lived through it. It has been almost a year since I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35, pregnant with my third child. I want to share here a few things that people said to me after hearing of my diagnosis, which I wish they never did, and I hope that any person going through what I did ...

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Genetic engineering – Unethical or welcomed?

A scalpel has the power to kill a human being who lies helplessly on the table in an operation room. However, that very scalpel can also save that person. It all depends on the surgeon whose hand the scalpel is in; he can choose to either use it to save a patient’s life or just end it with a few wrong cuts. This idea applies to every other technology or tool. It depends on you, whether you choose to use it or abuse it. For me, genetic engineering is a technology that should get immediate support and advancement from today’s community. It is a ...

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Compassion heals, volunteering helps

Meet Amna, a beautiful 13-year-old with hair falling below her waist, bright wide eyes and an angelic smile. When I walk in the room, she has a book in her lap, and her eyes are closed. She quickly rouses and smiles as if she recognises me. I introduce myself with the biggest smile I can muster and enthusiastically chat about topics I hope a teenager would enjoy. She seems fascinated but her fascination has less to do with me and more to do with her chirpy personality. I ask her about her siblings, which excites her and she eagerly asks if I will come again ...

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Two decades of battling breast cancer

The early 1990s at Franklin Township Public Library, New Jersey – two wonderful mothers separately take their children out for a day of fun and learning, with books. Fully engrossed in story time, one toddler looks up from the reading to meet a stranger’s eyes. It was another child his age, with short black hair and the undeniable look of a similar, intelligent mischievousness. That’s when it began. Our mothers soon became fast friends, and we spent most of early childhood in each other’s company. These were the modest beginnings of my lifelong (best) friendship with AR*. Little did we understand the depth of ...

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My life when Amma was diagnosed with breast cancer

Do you know how it feels to wake up one morning and find out that your mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer? I do. It doesn’t hit you at first. It was all a big rush; hospitals and tests, alien language and timeframes, it was chaotic and far too real. I still remember sitting with her, my mother, at the hospital. We were surrounded by family, aunts and uncles, but she was scared. This was my mother, the person I would run to in the middle of the night when I had a nightmare. She was my hero. And yet, ...

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The spectacular, Oscar de la Renta

Gentlemen, gallant, extraordinary. These are the words which come to mind when Oscar de la Renta is mentioned. A man so great, he could make ordinary women feel extraordinary in his creations. With an experience in fashion which would be any budding designers dream résumé, Mr de la Renta was born in Santo Domingo in the early 30s. He moved to Spain at the age of 19 where he worked with Balenciaga, followed by an offer to work at Christian Dior. He turned down the proposition to work at Lanvin for two years, eventually making his way to America. In the land of ...

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Breast cancer: Pakistan’s most common cancer

It was the summer of 1999, when a bunch of us, final year medical students, were attending to patients in the crowded outpatient department at the Mayo Hospital in Lahore. Our professor had called us to come see a patient in one of the consultation rooms. The patient was a young woman, no more than 35 years of age. She had come to the hospital with a large breast mass. She said that she had first felt the mass more than a year ago. After ignoring it for months, she had finally mustered the courage to talk to her husband about it. ...

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Stop criticising the Ice Bucket Challenge!

My advice, to those criticising the Ice Bucket Challenge for being a waste of water, is stop! Stop criticising long enough to understand the rare disease community and their struggles. The kind of awareness ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), has gotten over the past few weeks is the kind of well-deserved attention, I as someone who saw those closest to me suffer with a disease nobody knew off, could diagnose or had even heard off, wish and hope one day all rare diseases receive. People from all over the world have taken part in the campaign that has spread like wild fire. Celebrities ...

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