Love In The Time Of Cancer
I had envisioned my twenties to be full of 'life's big challenges'; a degree, an enterprise of my own, getting married to the man I would fall in love and raise a family.
Never did I know that another challenge lay ahead that would change the course of my life.
I am an anti-smoker, a pure environmentalist, no drinking. While girls my age chased their latest love interests. I preferred reading books. I had a great childhood; a healthy lifestyle. Never knew that my quiet life would turn into a battle and me into a warrior.
After my 23rd birthday I started feeling sick - flu, weakness and persistent cough prevailed. I went to practically all GPs whom we knew. Slowly I sensed something was wrong. My sixth sense became active and with basic medical knowledge I started having the hunch that it's CANCER.
Eventually my case was re-evaluated concluded that I had Hodgkin's lymphoma. I had no problem accepting it but my family was shattered. My main concern was whether it is curable and will I be NORMAL again.
At 23 no one is prepared to face tests and biopsies, chemotherapy and radiation therapy when they should be out making their way in the world, partying and falling in love? I have missed all that.
Cancer doesn't care what dreams are, it doesn't care that you are not married or do not have children. It doesn't care that you are an Arab or westerner.
My treatment commenced consisting of 4 cycles (2 chemotherapy per cycle) of ABVD. Each cycle of chemotherapy gave me a positive wave of energy. Although I lost some weight and hair, I was coping and counting days when the chemotherapy finish and I can start radiation therapy. I responded very well to the treatment all praises to GOD and I credit this to my oncologist. He made the entire process positive and saved me when I was about to slip into depression.
Following chemotherapy, I had 17 sessions of radiation therapy which wasn't that bad but did give me a sore throat and fatigue but I was ecstatic to be ALIVE.
What inspired me to go through the ordeal was my parents immense support, belief in GOD, support from our family friends and my oncologist, hospital staff and social workers.
I am thankful that I caught this early, and hopefully, it won't come back. GOD willing.
My oncologist has been great. He's a wonderful doctor and human being; I really think a lot of him because of his gentle and caring nature. I will always remember when he suddenly came in the PET CT preparation room when I was about to be taken in for the scan to determine if the disease has gone way from the body after chemotherapy. That meant a lot, and I felt ease as soon as I saw him.
I have been through a lot since I had Hodgkin's lymphoma. I am convinced it was God and angel who kept me on my feet to carry on.
I believe in destiny; having this illness showed me things had been searching for years; and honestly it is the small things I noticed, like I was no longer scared to take chances, of sleeping with lights off or scared of swimming alone in the pool.
My Resolution after illness
I will try to eat as well as I can and treat myself to ice-cream when I want. I will exercise and dance whenever I wish. I will read all about cancer and continue to collect data.
I will eat vegetables and enjoy them. I will buy and smell flowers and pick them.
I will buy expensive jewelry even when I am not sure how long I'll be alive to be able to wear it.
I will leave situations that make me uncomfortable because my life allows me no time to waste. I will let myself cry, but not for too long. Will always smile and laugh with all my feelings and senses, but will sit silent if it will hurt someone else.
I will not befriend mean people, or pretend to be. I know who wants to take advantage of me.
I will be thankful for my silliness, because I have been given a second chance; a second life. I will live the life I have created. Not one that someone else thought was good for me.
I will read all the fiction and senseless romance, for the love of it. And play music as loud as I can hear.
My Life Now
It will almost be a year on 4th October being free from cancer; I am proud to be a survivor.
Having survived treatment doesn't mean the battle is over. Another battle has begun; the fight to have an equal share in this life with other people; the fight to stand up for our rights. I know I cannot change the fact that I had lymphoma but I can work to make my life better than before and for others through awareness and support.
I cannot give up my ideal man and marry just anyone who comes along and accepts me.
I do refuse to accept that just because I am a survivor I compromise my whole life.
I also learned that that love is the greatest thing GOD has made for us humans. It was love that inspired and healed me. And that love is not owning a person but touching ones life forever.
I am now more determined to study further and live each day to its very fullest and accept the challenges that life has in store for me.
We are like the mythological bird Phoenix ; which emerges to life from it's very own ashes.