Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Living for today...

"Wan kena tunggu Afzal balik tau. Tak lama lagi nih, sebulan je lagi. Wan tunggu tau.." [Grandma, please do wait for my return. It won't be long now, just a month to go. Please do wait for me.]

"Insya Allah Afzal..." [God willing, Afzal.]

It was May 2007. I was in Sheffield, UK, speaking over the phone to my Grandma who was in Malaysia. Wan had taken ill over the last few months, and her condition had been worsening over time. The prognosis given by the doctors weren't good either. I was praying that time would pass by fast so that I could board that flight back home, scheduled around mid-June, less than a week after my term exam, just so that I can see Wan again.

When I reach Malaysia, I've made plans to bring Wan around, to cheer her up. I've planned to explain to Wan about her illness based on the medical knowledge I've gained from my studies. Plans lined up, specially for my dearest Wan.

But all plans were shattered, with only less than two weeks before my scheduled flight. Wan could not wait any longer. Her time had come.

Wan died, of cancer. I was gutted.


Ever since I achieved good grades in my SPM [GCSE-equivalent] examination, my burning desire to become a doctor lightened up even more. By the will of Allah, I succeeded in my A-Levels examination and received an offer to pursue Medicine in the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom in 2004.

Things were going as planned for the first 4 years of my studies. I've done relatively well, and by the time I entered my final year, I was already looking forward to holding that scroll I've dreamed for so long.

Chasing a dream...

But that was when I encountered my first major setback in life. December 2008, I developed a neck lump and was feeling generally lethargic. Then came the news I never expected, when I was diagnosed with a cancer. It's Hodgkin's lymphoma. I started having doubts about achieving my childhood dream of being a doctor.

I battled through series of chemotherapies and numerous invasive procedures over the next 6 months. Nausea, vomiting and sheer tiredness accompanied my journey as a final year medical student. In the end, I managed to complete my studies and passed my final year examination.

Treatments were over by early June, I've passed my finals and already was I making plans on starting my career as a doctor in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But when my doctor repeated a PET scan in July 2009, I encountered my second huge setback. The cancer has relapsed, and further treatment was required, of stronger dosing.

I had to abandon plans of starting work in Malaysia and remained in the UK for further treatment. They had to implant a tube into my chest [Hickmann line] which remained for almost 3 months. Throughout that period, I battled through stronger chemotherapies and worse side effects. I had terrible mouth ulcers that I could not get any foods down. My immunity was so low that I got infected several times, one of which was quite bad that I went into septic shock.

In the end, I pulled through the difficult times and completed my treatment by the end of November 2009. I believed things would get better from there on, and I was already planning on working in the UK whilst having continuous monitoring for my condition. At least, I get to practice as a doctor, and start earning some money to build for a bright future.

Creating a path for a brighter future

But that was when came the third major setback in my life. I was only two months down the recovery lane, and I started to feel the neck lumps growing back again. That was when they found out my cancer has relapsed yet again. To make it worse, the clinicians felt that they have exhausted all the curative options available.

Eventually, I returned home to Malaysia, with a bitter pill to swallow.


Living with cancer is like living on the edge. You never know when will the symptoms flare up, what symptoms might I experience next, whether the improvements I experience will be long lasting or not.

Somehow, I have been slightly 'traumatized' with making future plans. Should I really think about how my career as a doctor will pan out after 5, 10 years down the line? Or about making financial savings from now on, so that I can buy a car of my own when I start work in the future? Should I even think of having a family of my own in the future, raising my own kids and see them grow to become successful people in life?

"Our Lord, bless us with wives and children, who may be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the righteous." [25:74]

When another person talks about his future dreams of having a successful career in life, a beautiful and pious wife with lovely kids, or living in a house of their own, I failed to share the same exuberance that the person is experiencing. Because if you ask me what would my dream be, it will be none other than this;

I wish to become well again. It must have been so long that I'm ill, it's hard to even imagine how it feels to be fit and well again!

It was painful when my plans for Wan were shattered.

It was painful when the setbacks I experienced time and time again over the last 2 years ruined the plans I've made.

This experience has taught me a lesson. I live for today and what I can do for today, not in the past nor in the future. Some people say that planning is invaluable, but plans are worthless. While I don't fully concur with such sayings, I still find some wisdom in it.

Because my journey in life has taught me that my future may not be what I have planned.

I live for today, and I try to reap whatever happiness I can gain from the day. If I keep myself occupied thinking about the so-called future happiness of a good career, a big house, a big car, etc, then I will miss out on the happiness that would be gone forever, and that is TODAY!

I think it is time I stop dwelling on things I have yet to acquire, but to cherish every little things I used to overlook all these while. Enjoy today, because it is not coming back.

"No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy the sunlight today, mix good cheer with friends today, then enjoy it and bless God for it. Do not look back on happiness or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated of it." -Henry Ward Beecher

Wallahua'lam [And Allah Knows Best]


Myra said...

this is a great post Mas.

you said it all.

be well

Kejernihanku said...

salam..walaupun kau sakit semua ni..percayalah setiap kesedihan, kesakitana kau ini akan dibalas oleh Allah kelak..memberikan kau lebih baik sehingga kau tak mampu memikirkan..be strong mas..ramai orang masjid sini kirim salam kat kau and tanye pasal kau..ukhwah fillah abadan abada..

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Myra - Thank you very much for dropping by at my blog. I'm merely penning my thoughts.

Sopi - Barakallahu fiik akhi. Rindunya pada keluarga di MWHS, tlg sampaikan salam aku kat depa semua. Haritu Ayman "Nasi ayam" pun ada call, dia sekarang dah duduk kat Jordan. Indah betul ukhuwwah Islamiyyah di bumi Sheffield =)

orang Sheffield said...

Semoga ALLAH berikan kebahagian hari demi hari untuk Mas dan family~

joegrimjow said...

see u at malaysia in this midle of june ;)

nur said...

a hadith,

'when the morning comes upon you, the do not expect to see the evening, and when you see the night, do not expect to see the morning'

live with heart, body, and soul for TODAY...

nur said...



yellowrabbit said...

Salam Mas,

Can't help but thinking hard about what you've said.Yes we have to cherish the happiness that we have today so that "Yang dikejar tak dapat,yang dikendong berciciran" dosn't happen eh. And to add to that, when we love someone(doesn't matter family or friend), tell him/her so today, this instant, 'cause it is now that matters. Today is reality, tomorow is uncertainty !

Anyway, there are lessons worth learning from 'yesterday' and there is always hope in 'tomorow'. InsyAllah

Take care. Love and prayers from me and my family always.

uchnanabanana said...


Its true how sometimes life gets so bogged down in the details, we forget wer living it kan.

Good reminder indeed. But really, its not wrong to dream for wer aiming for a better tomorrow instead of just adopting the 'go with the flow' attitude but always bear in mind too tht He has plans for us and indeed He has great plans for you insyaAllah. So kita kena lah selalu bersangka baik dgn Allah.

Take care and pls make duaa for me, exams in 2 days :)


PakTam said...

Salaam Afzal.

The simple saying "Kita hanya merancang, Allah menentukan". So simple that we think we really know and fully understand what it means. Think again..

Plan for the future - we must! Getting settled down and start a family of your own - go ahead! Orang yang sihat pun semasa dia ambil keputusan untuk berumahtangga, dia tak tau apa yang Allah tentukan untuk dia keesokan harinya. Pada PakTam, orang yang sihat itu tadi tak ada bezanya dengan Afzal dalam soal "apa akan jadi esok.."

PakTam doakan kebahagiaan untuk Afzal. Search for that happiness. Kalau dah ada, make it happen. Esok? Doa lah, tawakkal.. Allah Maha Mendengar. Allah Maha Pengasih. Allah Maha Besar.


mawar said...

Salam Mas,

Kegembiraan dan ketenangan adalah 2 perkara yang berbeza. Tentunya Mas tak akan menyatakan yang Mas gembira dengan situasi Mas sekarang. Tetapi bila Mas mampu menerima ketentuanNya dengan redha, Allah akan turunkan ketenangan di hati. Ketenangan itulah yang didambakan seluruh manusia, bukan kegembiraan.Asalkan jiwa tetap tenang, itulah anugerah yang harus disyukuri. Dan jiwa itulah yang akan dipanggilNya nanti untuk menikmati kebahagiaan yang abadi di sana nanti.
" Wahai jiwa yang tenang, kembali lah kepada tuhanmu dengan hati yang puas lagi diredhai, masuk lah ke dalam jamaah hamba2 Ku, dan masuk lah ke dalam syurga Ku"
(AlFajr 27-30)
Dia Maha Mengetahui dan Maha Penyayang, Mas, ingat selalu...

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Orang Sheffield - Amiin. Siapalah orang Sheffield ni =)

Joe - insya Allah akhi, jangan lupa get in touch bila dah sampai Malaysia nanti.

Nur - Barakallahu fiik. Rasanya itu sambungan kepada hadith Kun fiddunya ka-annaka ghariban, au aabirussabil. [Live in this world as if you are a stranger passing through]. Beautiful hadith, subhanAllah.

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Yellowrabbit - I can't agree more with you. Tell the people you love how you really appreciate them being around you. But that, obviously only applies to people you can say that to, and thus buayafriend-gelifriend don't came under the same category! =)

Husna - Good point ukhti. I guess it's not 'going with the flow' that I really meant, but cherishing the things we have around us in our daily life, which we often overlook and deserves more appreciation.

PakTam - Thanks Paktam. It's true no one knows when our death will come and therefore everyone should always plan 4 da future. But we must also admit that the paradigm of someone who is perfectly healthy will obviously be different from someone who is battling for his life, and that often influences the way he/she views the future.

Having said that, at the end of the day, Allah knows best and to Him I leave all matters.

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Mawar - Thanks for sharing this very strong message ukhti. Sakeenah is really what every human being requires.

Ya Allah, hanya dengan mengingati-Mu hatiku akan menjadi tenang!

uchnanabanana said...

Sorry, i didnt mean to say it to you just cause tau.it's just a personal concern cause i dislike it when people keep saying 'im just gonna go w the flow' (of i which i myself do it sometimes, astaghfirullah) as tho one is tired of many uncertainties when actually we shld be aware of His qada' n qadr; this we often neglect. yes we shld take it day by day, but at the same time as uve beautifully enlightened the fact that we should live each day to the fullest, cherish all the people to the little-st things around us kan?

just so knw ur entries hv never failed to motivate me in some/many ways esp when im so soaked up with studies as tho there's nothing more to it. thanks for tht:)

this is something on 'living' our life: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/islam-studies/live-your-life/#more-9091

Anonymous said...

The decision to 'live in the present' is yours and yours alone to make. Kudos on making it!

Our decisions are shaped by our experiences, ideals, 'tarbiyyah' and upbringing. Hence, everyone is different.

May Allah give you strength to face... well, to face everything. The disease itself is one challenge. But i guess your personal hopes & dreams, wanting to make your family & friends happy, living in the 'spotlight' etc are all challenges too. May you be strong.

amir_mujahid =)

Karim said...

Salam perkenalan Doc...

Just a few words to share...

'Yesterday is history...tommorrow is mystery...and today is a gift...that's why it is called PRESENT...'-Master Oogwei (KungFu Panda)

Live ur lives to the fullest Doc..
Do life, it is mega even when it hurts...

yatibahar said...

Ur dream will come true Afzal, u'll be fit and well again, Insya'Allah...

Ajal maut ditangan Allah, yg segar bugar pun kalau kena H1N1 ke, accident ke, earth quake ke, akan pergi jugak. Enjoy the 'gift' of today. I really like Karim's comment above and the quote by KungFu Panda :-)

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Husna - Good point highlighted ukhti. And thanks for sharing Suhaib Webb's talk.

Amir mujahid - You are right in highlighting all those other challenges in life. May Allah put ease in all our affairs, barakallahu fiik!

Karim - How can anyone not like Master Oogwei's legendary quote? I watch Kungfu Panda a lot 4 ur info, it really is quite a motivational film! Even when I was having my chemotherapy a few months ago, I'd be watching it whilst waiting for the drugs to be infused!

Kak yati - Sama-samalah kita berdoa yer akak. Kalau itu yang terbaik untuk saya, moga Allah kabulkan. =)

Anonymous said...

Salam Brother,

The world is in three days: As for yesterday, it has vanished, along with all that was in it. As for tomorrow, you may never see it. As for today, it is yours, so work in it. (Hassan AlBasri)

Each of us encountered different trials in life. Some lead a happy life and some lose hope to live. Yet we all have to remember the struggle of life require only two simple (yet hard) things. If we could do it, come whatever trial we would not be defeated. Sabr when not given and Shukr when given!

Cheer up Bro! We have our loved ones with us now! Most importantly we are still holding strong to our faith. Barakallahu Fika!

mohd shazli mohd zaini said...

slm mas,

nice post. really love the new layout. but, more importantly the entry really open my eyes. If I be a teacher, definitely will print out this entry for all my students. =)

take care mas. always remember you in my prayer =)

i'll try to bring sate for you this summer. =)


mawar said...

Salam Mas,

I wrote a special dedication for you entitled 'A Blessed Heart' in my blog and I humbly invite to to read it. I don't write as good as you though.

mawar said...

typo error,

invite you to read

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Anonymous - Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sabr and Shukr, it reminds me of a beautiful hadith from the Prophet,

Amazing is the believer, for whatever Allah decrees for him, it is better for him! If he is tested with a bounty, he is grateful for it and this is better for him; and if he is afflicted with a hardship, he is patient with it and this is better for him.

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Shazli - Akhi, unfortunately I am on a strict pantang wih my diet and sate is in the 'NO' list as well.. :(

Nevertheless my family members are aware of how tasty Sate Hj Zaini is and they'd like to taste it on my behalf :)

Mawar - Thanks ukhti for sharing the post. Very enriching indeed, and who says I write better than yours?!

uglybeautyme said...

just nobody.
u're tough!
may ALLAH be wif u and us always:D

Anonymous said...

ukhuwwah yang terjalin tak kan ku lupa, c u this coming summer holiday mas, insyaAllah! be strong!..p/s: jiran sebelah bilik yg homesick x habis2..-nik

Aini Hasanah said...


this is, indeed, very beautiful. It wakes me up from being one self-absorbed person definitely. may Allah bless you with protection and guidance,insyaAllah.

mahabbah sa'adah said...

each time i read ypur entries, iwill feel really touch..kali ini, sy terdetik untuk komen..
ketahuilah..Allah lebih tahu apa yg terbaik buat hamba..
terkadang timbul kecemburuan dalam hati pada saudara kerna diuji Ilahi bertalu2..namun, saudara kelihatan begitu redha..dan itulah doaku..agar saudara diberkahi dan terus redha denagn ketentuan Ilahi..Amin..=)
'yesterday is history..tomorrow still mystery..and today is a gift'
A gift from Lord..untuk melihat sama ada kita bersyukur atau tidak.."Hitung Kesyukuranmu..bukan kepayahan dan keluh kesahmu"
Firman Allah (54:47-49)
sebabnya turun ayat ini berkenaan kaum Quraisy yg suatu hari datang menemui rasullulah dan berdebat tentang masalah takdir (HR.Muslim dan Tirmidzi..tidak terjadi sesuatu perkara tanpa kehendak Allah..dan, setiap takdir yg berlaku hikmahnya melimpah buat manusia yang lain..sepertimana apa yg telah berlaku ke[ada saudara membuat saya lebih bersyukur dan bersemangat sebagai hambaNya..
(2:286)Allah tidak akan uji seseoorg hamba jika dia tidak mampu..
sy yakin saudara BOLEH..
teruskan perjuanagan..
pada hemat saya, there is no right or wrong if you want to plans your future..perbanyakkan doa..InsyaAllah..=)
"sesungguhnya Allah mencintai org2 yanng terus menerus berdoa"[HR Al-Auzai']
sy akan turut mendoakan..InsyaAllah..
mhn maaf..terlalu banyak bicara..
terima kasih sekali lagi buat saudara..Barakahallah..Amin..

rakuban said...

salam saudara,
nak kongsi pndpt.sy juga ad pnglmn tngal d negara org.ape yg sy pelajari
dlm hdup byk.ape yg saudara idam2kn
2tipikal malaysian,be it educated or uneducated mlysian.rumh besar kete besar.b4 g oversea sy pon mcm 2jugak
esp sy ni blaja engineering.kire ferrari 2marvel r.tp bile sy smpai sini smua yg sy nak 2,sy rs xpenting.ape yg penting ape yg kt makan HARI INI,pakai HARI INI,tmpt tingal HARI INI.n saving in case emergency or xde income.n bile smua org yg stadi kt sini nk blk msia sbb boring dok sini,sy lak nk stay xnk balik,bukn sbb better pay,tp sbb rs bebas n merdeka.kt sini xperlu beli kereta.klo beli pon 2nd hand xmahal.mcm di uk 3series 2nd br 10k pound. Yg paling penting hdup kt sini bukn mcm arnab yg diikat carrot kt depan mata.asik kejar je. HARI ini kt rs klo ad rumh besar kete besar kt bahagia, tp kt silap.saudara myb akn dpt smua 2dlm 20-30 tahun,tp bile smpai usia 2, msti kt akn rs smua ni x de ape.kete skdr besi je.nothing more or less.kt msia je function as status.ape yg sy plajari dr Negara ini adlh bnde yg paling cantik skali penah sy tgk kt duni adalah 1set family,emak ayah n anak2 diorg naik basikal same2.
Psl ujian yg saudara hadapi.sy akui sy xde ujian mcm 2, cume sy nk share pndpt sy. Ape beza nye mati hari ini,esok atau 50tahun lg.sy xkesah utk mati hr ini.ape yg sy kisah sgt2 leh xsy jwb soalan2 kt kubur nnt,mcm exam jugak,ape beza nye exam hr ini esok,atau 50tahun akn dtg.myb klo exam bkaitan biologi pd hr ini pasti awk leh jwb.tp klo 50tahun akn dtg pd ms y gawk xtahu ttb ad exam psl teori astronomi.awk myb xleh jwb.dlm hdup ini smuanye relative esp masa.sy fhm sgt bnde ini,cume nk put into understandable word mmg sgt susah. Stelah duduk d sini br sy faham btul2 bhw dunia ni tipu sahaja.cume mslh peribadi sy dr segi ibadat.dr segi disiplin utk ibadat tamabahan,pdhal Negara ni sgt bdisiplin,sy masih cari2 jwpn dkt situ. Dr ape yg sy bc,saudara ini jnis religious,sy nk jd kaki ibadat jugak tp blum jmpe jln lg.myb saudara boleh tolong sy.

Maaf myb ape yg sy nk smapaikn xsmpai.myb kne alami sndiri.tp sy rs UK pon system hampir same.tp ikut personal opinion sy,sy xsuke UK. Sy kt sini bukn nk bsr2kn mn2 Negara,cume accidently polisi Negara ini influence kpd cara hdup

Anonymous said...


I really feel for you. I pray that one day Allah will cure you. Myself, I'm having tinnitus. It's going to be a year this Christmas. It's tough living with this sickness, but Alhamdulillah I'm still alive.