Friday, 2 July 2010

Can you feel His Love?

Now and again, I engage myself into a so-called 'retrospective session'. Thinking about the many whys for all the things that have been happening to me ever since I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma back in December 2008. Asking myself why have I suffered this disease at the first place, having been so fit and healthy previously. Asking myself why have the cancer relapsed so soon after my initial chemotherapy sessions finished back in June 2009. Asking myself why hadn't the stem cell transplant I had back in December 2009 work.

Not that I'm questioning Allah's plannings on me. Rather the whys I made up for myself were more towards making sure that I don't repeat the same mistakes that could have possibly lead to all this. Making sure that if 'X' had been one of the causes for the immediate relapse of this cancer, then I would need to eliminate 'X' as part of my holistic approach against the disease.

Try as I might, more often than not, I fail to figure out most of the answers to my whys. Which makes it quite frustrating, as it feels like you've run yourself into a stumbling block, preventing you from reaching the end of the path you're threading. Having said that, it's true when they say that in every cloud there will always be a silver lining. And I believe that I've found my silver lining.

I believed that, although I may never know the answer to all my whys, at least I do know that God has used this illness to show me His great love. Thus the saying, "Allah certainly has unique ways to show His love".

When I made the decision to continue my treatment in the UK back in July 2008, there were concerns financially. By July 2008, I was no longer funded through scholarships by my sponsor, thus I had to rely on the savings I have in my bank account. That was when Allah showed that I should put my trust on Him alone. My friends, all over the UK and Ireland, started a donation drive and by the end of it, managed to collect a few thousand pounds to help me during my stay in the UK for treatment. Not only that, I could use the money to support some of the travel expenses incurred by my family members who came from Malaysia to accompany me every now and again when I had my treatment.

Not only that, when I was recovering at home from a recent chemotherapy session, people would come on a daily basis to bring meals. I never had to worry about what to eat, as the Malaysian community in Sheffield had kindly prepared a roster-like list of people in charge of bringing over foods during my recovery period at home.

When I could not go to the masjid due to my health, I often felt like the masjid was brought to me. An astounding number of people supplicated for my well-being and continued to do so in each of their prayers. I can feel Allah's love showering down on me via the endless prayers of His servants.

The one day when I truly felt Allah's great love was the day when the masjid organised a farewell-like gathering for me the night before I left Sheffield for Malaysia back in January 2010. The main praying area of the masjid was full with people, you hardly notice any empty spaces. What made it more emotional to me was the fact that it wasn't just Malaysians who came, but also Arabs, Asians, Turkish, to name a few. All in the name of Muslim brotherhood. It certainly was a gathering I'd never forget, one that will remain embedded in my heart.

Even when I have returned to Malaysia for good since February 2010, I can still very much embrace Allah's endless love emanating through the support and assistance of His servants. Every now and again, friends be it old or new come by to pay a visit and say their well wishes. Not only that, a lot of the alternative treatments I'm currently on are recommendations I received through phone calls, emails and text messages from fellow friends and acquaintances. Some suggestions even came from people I hardly know of, who kindly offered their help having found out about my plight. I took all these as reflection of the beautiful blessings of Allah, one that teaches me a valuable lesson in life:

I can only find contentment in my trial and tribulation by putting any negatives aside, and start thanking Allah for the blessings He has showered me with.

Being able to feel Allah's love embracing me has been pivotal in keeping my strength during my times of ups and downs. Which is why I have always reminded myself to not act in ways where I might possibly 'lose' the eligibility of receiving such love. Therefore, I know I need to remain:

1. Steadfast, for Allah loves the steadfast.
…God loves those who are steadfast” (Surah Al-Imran, 3:146)

2. In reliance to none other but Him alone.
“…God loves those who put their trust in Him” (Surah Al-Imran, 3:159)

3. Avoid committing sins, and to immediately turn to repentance.
…God loves those who repent to Him, and He loves those who keep themselves clean” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:222)

When you feel like everything seems to go against your way, just take 5 minutes to sit down and reflect on all the blessings you have in life, and the things that actually went your way. May then, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.



B said...

salam Afzal,

a thought crossed my mind, forgive me for voicing it out to you, we doctors know and you yourself said before that hodgkins disease is highly curable but your disease seems to be very very resistant (and super quick relapse for that matter)..

have you ever doubt the diagnosis? i mean.. somebody in the histopathology lab might have made a mistake.. we are all humans..

i really hope that you will get better.. and stronger, so you can continue spreading His messages to the weak ignorant us...

rhapsody LiN said...

still remember when my specialist said that Allah love me more. that's why HE gives me this 'present' because HE knows better..

mokjadeandell said...

afzal,my words of sympathy.I think I know what the gruelling days that you have to go through as we had seen the same in my sister in law.
May Allah bless you and have a speedy recovery.

Mak Long said...

Salam Afzal,

Salam kenal dari Burnham Buckinghamshire. I just came across your blog and am so humbled by your strength and patience. I am sure that you have heard many suggestions/recommendations before but if you permit, may I suggest some reading materials in case they might help or at least provide a new opportunity for a cure. Here's the link I really hope and pray that Allah will cure your illness.

Salam Kak Ruzi

Norhayati Ab Ghani @ Rani said...

Allah loves U..u r the chosen strong..

Anonymous said...


Kuatkan semangat,perbanyakkan berdoa dan qiamullail,..InsyaAllah,Dia pasti akan menyembuhkan En.Mas Afzal Masarudin kerana Dia Maha Penyembuh...Saya juga turut mendoakan kesembuhan en.Mas Afzal..

Anonymous said...

Salam Dr,
Ni ada sedikit komen drpd sorang canser survivor..Diharap dpt bantu memberi semangat untuk sembuh..Dia sembuh dgn hanya berusaha tp kita umat Islam boleh berusaha,berdoa dan meminta kerana Allah selalu disamping kita..

How did you find out you had lymphoma? Stephane Barton: I was diagnosed when I was 20-years-old, I had just finished my sophomore college. I went in just for a random blood check, because my mom is diagnosed with osteoporosis, and being a medical person I am, I wanted to make sure I was getting all my vitamins, my minerals, everything that would hopefully prevent me from getting osteoporosis. And that came back abnormal and my sedimentation rate was sky high. So, I had an abnormal cough before because my doctor didn't know what was wrong with me. I went for a chest x-ray and from then, 30 minutes after I left the place, they called me back, saying, we need to do a PET scan, which of course, me being 20 completely freaked me out and I didn't know what was going on and from then, I was about, that evening, after they finished all the scans my doctor knew it was Hodgkin's lymphoma. What went through your mind? My mind was kind of everywhere because I was like, am I going to die? What's going to go on? What's going to happen in my life? I am 20-years-old. I have cancer. 20-year-olds don't really think about that. And they think, that they live in a bubble and everything is fine. And really in through my head, I just -- I thought about my life, my family. If my life was ending and anything that you could possibly think of probably went through my head. What were your next steps? Well, I had a second opinion at MD Anderson in Houston Texas. And then from there I had my doctor in Charleston and my doctor in MD Anderson figured out for me to go through a chemotherapy treatment called ABVD. I went through the maximum cycles, which was 8 cycles/16 treatments and then from then, we thought I was better but I wasn't better. And I had a dual bone marrow transplant. So, from there I had to go through another round of chemotherapy called ICE and I was lucky with that, I got the minimum cycles, which is only two, and that was the chemotherapy that really put me on my butt. And I wasn't feeling well at all with that but from then, I found out, I was cancer free on May 1, 2006 which was six days before my 21 birthday. So, that was a fun celebration week. And from then, I started my bone marrow transplant which was, I was the donor, so I harvested my cells, I went through Free Cyst and all of that and I had six straight days of chemotherapy before my transplant and then I had my transplant and here I am today. Did Lymphoma change your life? For me, my disease changed my life because now, I am going to go to nursing school and I want to do pediatric oncology, and this is very important to people, because people really don't realize, they think, oh! It's going to happen to someone else, it's not going to happen to me or it's not going to happen to my family. And I think it's very important to raise awareness and raise money because sooner of later hopefully we will find a cure for, I mean, any cancer and hopefully for leukemia and lymphoma. Because it effects; if you look at it, it effects a lot of younger people that -- people don't think about it, they think of older people. But I mean, still it's an awful disease and everyone needs to be aware and everyone needs help to find a cure and to help find at least a treatment that can somewhat cure someone, so they don't have to go through chemotherapy every two years and have their cancer come back or anything like that, and just raise awareness.

X de cara lain untuk sy menolong Dr melainkan dgn berdoa dan terus memberi semangat..Ms Siti

Teratai said...

Salam, I wish to share some of your words of wisdom and info from this blog. Semoga ilmu yg bermanafaat ini diperpanjangkan dan pahalanya akan sentiasa mengalir buat arwah. Al-Fatihah