Thursday, 1 October 2009

Living with Cancer : Living With Uncertainty?

Assalamualaikum wbt

As I meet and talk to people in the hospital afflicted by cancer, be it a cancer similar to mine or not, we all often agreed on one thing. That it is one of the most uncertain disease one can ever have.

Which is why patients who are successfully treated of their cancer are called 'in remission', and not terms such as 'completely cured' or 'declared cancer-free'. By saying someone is 'in remission' implies the possibility, be it small or big, of a 'relapse' in the future, ie the cancer coming back to haunt you.

However, it's not the term used that I intend to dwell on, but rather how this 'uncertainty' can affect our emotions in the cruelest of manner, if not dealt properly.

"I've just made plans to start work again after such a long break due to treatment. Time to play my part in helping out my family after all the sacrifices they have made."

Unfortunately the cancer relapses and all your plans go out of the window.

"I'm now 55-years old and it's probably the best time to take my family out to live in the countryside and enjoy our life again after what had been a torrid few months battling against cancer."

Unfortunately the cancer relapses and all your plans go out of the window.

"Finally I can now start to think about my marriage plans and starting a family. How exciting will this be."

Unfortunately the cancer relapses and all your plans go out of the window.

Those stated above are certainly not just made up blindly. These are all real-life examples of the people I have came across during my stay in the hospital. The uncertainty. Uncertain whether you can actually start a new chapter in life after being declared in remission from cancer without having to go through a hiccup.

"Well Mas, in your case, 5 years is what we call the magic number. It is unlikely that you will get a relapse after being 5 years in remission from the disease," a specialist nurse reassured me yesterday during our conversation.

Yes, 5 years is the prediction of clinicians based on their study and experience of dealing with the disease. But it is called prediction for a reason. Because all of us are mere mortals and we don't possess the power to say that things will happen for certain, thus we can only resort to predicting.

This shortcoming of not being able to be 100% certain of what lies ahead of you is part of Allah's beautiful plan for human beings.

Not sure when will death come to us.

Or when the Day of Judgement will be.

So that we don't wait until we reach 50-years old before learning to visit the mosque for our prayers.

So that it send shivers down our spine to have the gut to say, "Muda-muda kita enjoy, bila dah tua kita bertaubatla!" [Enjoy while we're still young, and repent when we get old].

There really shouldn't be a saying like, "Abah dah umur 70-tahun, eloklah banyakkan duduk di masjid dan sembahyang." [Dad, you are now already 70-years old, it's better that you now spend more time in the mosque and pray].

What if death comes to you before your dad?!

As for myself, I sometimes am left wondering about how exactly should I deal with this uncertainty filling inside myself. It's very difficult now picturing myself in 10 years time when in the past, I can see clearly where I want to be in the future. That's a feeling I guess myself and people with cancer share in life.

At least one thing is certain. I know I have Allah, and I just have to keep on praying and believing in His plans for me.

وَللَّهِ غَيْبُ السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ وَإِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُ الاٌّمْرُ كُلُّهُ فَاعْبُدْهُ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَيْهِ وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

And to Allah belongs the Ghayb (everything that is unseen) of the heavens and the earth, and to Him return all affairs (for decision). So worship Him and put your trust in Him. And your Lord is not unaware of what you (people) do. [Hud:123]

Ward P4, Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
1st October 2009.

p/s: I am currently in Day 4 of my ESHAP chemotherapy, battling hard against nausea and tiredness. If everything goes as plan, God willing, I should be able to go home by this Saturday. Keep the prayers coming everyone.


JeP said...

Indeed it is true that predictions may as well be rhetorical expectations. But I'm inclined to believe that sometimes it can also infuse a sense of fighting spirit for those willing to look at it in an optimistic note.

Great to see that you're able to pen down a few words here in the middle of your 2nd ESHAP. We here have you in our prayers daily, hopefully that Saturday will come fast and you'll be well rested up there in the attic of 42 Filey.

Persevere chemoboy, as you've always, and will always do. Keep those updates going! :D

Anonymous said...

When are you coming back home, mate? The country needs you,pal.

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum wbth,

I would rather concentrate on what is sure at the moment...The surest thing is that (1) you are undergoing treatment at the best possible place; (2) your family and friends are praying for your wellbeing all over the world; (3) you keep being strong to go through all that is needed to make you well again...and lastly, I will SURELY keep coming down to UK, to lend you support.
InsyaAllah, I'll be coming again in November, cos I just found out I've been accepted to attend a 6-day course in Oxford fr. 15th to 20th Nov...maybe this time around I'll bring Aiysha...Take care and stay strong my dearest son...mama.

P/S: Jep, Afzal is moving to the "living room" soon - no more living in the attic!

Anonymous said...


My friends and I were on our CVS attachment the other day, about to go on the wards for a bedside tutorial with my tutor; who's a doctor of course. On the ward we all stood encircling this one patient who's lying on his bed, to perform full hx taking and phys. exam. While chatting with the patient to obtain his PMHx, he mentioned that he had Hodgkin's Lymphoma before, survived and now warded for another medical condition [can't remember what it was now but i think it's unrelated to the lymphoma]. Then my tutor responded, 'you had hodgkin's lymphoma before? So did I." I was surprised to know that my tutor himself apparently had PMHx of Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

What i was trying to deliver here is that don't ever lose hope, in Him I mean. You're the one chosen by Allah to face this ordeal and He's promised that he'd never test his creations with sth that they can't withstand. You're strong and you know that. May Allah be with you, always.

Anonymous said...

Moga Allah permudahkan segala buat Mas