"Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was sent down : this Book is a perfect guidance for mankind and consists of clear teachings which show the right way and are a criterion of Truth and falsehood. Therefore from now on whoever witnesses it, it is obligatory on hire to fast the whole month, but if one be ill or on a journey, he should make up for the same number by fasting on other days. Allah desires to show leniency to you and does not desire to show any hardship. Therefore this method is being shown to you so that you may complete the number of Fast days and glorify Allah for the Guidance He has shown to you and be grateful to Him." [2:185]
I could still remember vividly an ironically fond memory almost a year ago, when I was being told off by my housemate who disagreed with the act I had committed. It was the middle of Ramadhan during then, and I had decided to fast even though I was only just discharged from the hospital two days back for one of my chemotherapy sessions. Being a concern housemate, he thought I was not being fair to my body and reminded me of the leniency Allah has provided for the sick during the fasting month. He was right. My body was still so weak that I couldn't even last half a day fasting. In the end, I missed half of the Ramadhan as a result of my treatment.
A year on, and alhamdulillah I had the opportunity to embrace Ramadhan 1431. By the end of it, I am ever thankful to Allah that for His Mercy, I had managed to fulfill three main aims I had outlined prior to Ramadhan:
i. To make up for the whole 14 days of fasting I had missed during the previous Ramadhan before the arrival of Ramadhan 1431.
ii. To try and complete the whole 30 days of this year's Ramadhan.
iii. To fast for 6 days in the month of Shawwal.
To some, achieving the aforementioned aims might be as easy as a walk in the park. But being in the state I am, I remembered how happy, relieved and thankful I was when the Athan for Maghrib was called upon on the 6th day of my fast in the Shawwal month. I had managed to achieve all three objectives I had set for myself. The athan signified a rather sweet personal victory, having inevitably experienced some difficulties during the fasting period.
Admittedly, during the fasting period, my body tends to get tired quicker and I therefore had to limit my physical activities during the day. As I find myself knackered quite easily by dawn, I had to content myself with performing most of my teraweh prayers at home rather than making the trip to the masjid. I was definitely not as strong as I was in the past, which frankly was quite frustrating. But I never let such thoughts to put me off from doing as much as I could during the blessed month. And by the end of it, I really thought I had fared better than what I initially expected in terms of the 'ibadah I had planned to perform. Alhamdulillah. The way I see it is quite simple; if you can't do some, don't leave everything. I was definitely not fit enough to make it for regular teraweh prayers at the masjid, but that didn't mean I can't perform it at home. I believed it was that simple principle that kept me strong throughout the fasting period, and it paid off by the end of it.
On a disclaimer note, I am in no way trying to advocate to anyone that one should still force him/herself to fast despite being ill. At the end of the day, only oneself knows his body better and he should make the decision as to whether he is fit enough to fast or not. The permissibility to abstain from fasting due to ill health is certainly a leniency Allah has provided for His servants, and one should never try to make things difficult. Allah stated clearly in His Holy Book:
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
"...Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you..." [2:185]
I believe that people living with cancer should never have a negative perception that they will never be able to perform fasting during Ramadhan any longer, or performing certain 'ibadah in the Deen that might seem to require a big portion of effort or energy from the person. The important thing that should be borne in mind is that all these acts can still be performed, but understandably there might be some shortcomings as compared to the ibadah of a healthy person. Thus, accept and embrace these shortcomings and insha Allah, it will not hit you too hard when you find yourself not being able to perform some of the things you used to do in the past, when you were free from the disease.
As I have always said in the past, cancer is a word and NOT a sentence. Don't let it control your life. What more the life of a Muslim.