Sunday, 31 July 2011

Faith

If you have not noticed, I have spent the past couple of days experimenting with new backgrounds on Blogger only to come back to the green grass and blue sky one!  It seemed to work best with the text and all.

Anyhow, this space will be less active soon.  I shall be blogging here http://hardtalkislam.blogspot.com/  Yes, it is about Islam.  My Islam, if you will :) 

Ramadan starts on Tuesday IA.  Between last Ramadan and this one a LOT has happened.  Our little family boat got severely rocked but Alhamdulillah we seem to be in calmer waters :)

I will not cease to say it. And I am not the only one who says it: faith is something amazing.  We all say it.  By we, I mean every single person afflicted with cancer.  How do I know?

I conduct this little experiment everytime I go for radiotherapy.  See, in hospitals, you need to be armed with plenty of patience because the wait can be anything from 20 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes! So, while waiting, we talk.  And I make mental notes.

The drill goes something like this: make eye contact, initiate a conversation, inevitably it is about the when and where and how and what you did about your cancer, then speculate on how you might have got it (genetics/hormonal/food/lack of exercise, all of those factors, pure bad luck, yada yada), the absolute absolute wretchedness of chemotherapy, the relief of being done with torture, the comfort that science has progessed enough that there is now a treatment for this dreadful disease and finally, finally, with a sigh, acknowledge that it is only faith that has held you up through this ordeal. 

You then sit in silence savouring your faith.

All else may vary.  But at the end of it all there is faith.

Yes. Faith it is.

Just because






Friday, 29 July 2011

Shoes

I have new shoes from Amreeka!!!

I can die happy :)

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Tango

Sometimes, it takes someone else pushing you to realise that you can be more than what you are.  I pushed and shoved this morning.  In the afternoon, I got pushed and shoved :)

Truth is we all take turns at pulling someone up and being pulled up.  And this takes place constantly, continually.  It is a great silent dance we all participate in. 

So, I will not make excuses.  I will extend my hand for help when I need that little push up the hill .  And I will pull you when you extend yours to me from the bottom of the hill. 

The worst that can happen is I might strain a muscle or two.  And so can you.  The best that can happen is I get to dance happily on this stage called life.  And so do you. :)

All together, we tango beautifully.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Writemember

My head hurts tonight...but before I go to sleepland, let me writemember (yeah, I just invented the word!  It means write to remember) a few things.

1.  Within the cancer sorority, it is okay to ask direct questions about touchy subjects like baldness!  No one takes offense.  Comparison is allowed. And if you are confident enough, you can whip that wig/scarf off your head just to proudly show hair growth progress.  Discussing about constipation, nausea, missed periods, etc etc is like discussing shoes or clothes....It is completely natural!  Normal folks will never understand this.

2.  Seeing for real someone with just one boob is still a shock even though I have seen lots of pictures of women having had a mastectomy.  It is not easy on the eyes or the psyche.  Makes me glad I still have two!

3.  Radiotherapy with a male nurse is awkward!!!  There is something very unnatural about it, I feel.  Although why that should be the case is beyond my logic.  Afterall, all my doctors are male.  Could it be because the male in question was a young guy?  Mmmmm....something to analyse in more depth.

4.  I am having plenty of time for people-watching with my daily trips to work and the hospital.  And for introspection.  That latter part is not of much comfort lately.  I NEED to get out of myself for a while.  IA, soon.

5.  Dear God, why do I root for the underdog?  ALWAYS.  Why, oh why?  Yeah, I know.  I AM the underdog!  I am rooting for me...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

My blog

I've recently found out that this blog has a purpose other than entertaining me each night!

Turns out, it is quite useful to just throw it on anyone who is wanting to "know what's up with me these days".  Kind of an introduction to my current life without me having to invest time, energy, words, etc in the process.

I realise that for some people it will come as a shock to read that I have cancer!  But hey, I HAVE cancer.  I say it or the blog says it...same thing.

So yeah, this blog is kind of my journal (although I warn you not to look too deep into what I say here or to think that what is here is ALL of me.  FYI, the really deep stuff, I have personally censored from this site.  There is another space for it and that shall remain anonymous).

Call it what you want...a blog, an online journal, a narcissist space, a personal marketing platform...whatever.  It is me under the lens of cancer :)

This is my blog.  Enjoy.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Rx - Beep Beep

I have been impressed today.  By a machine.

I am rarely wowed by things.  By nature, yes. By people, yes.  By feelings, yes.  But things? Very rarely.

Yet, as I laid on my back, chest completely bared to 2 male and 2 female nurses in the radiotherapy marking room, I was impressed by the machine measuring the volume of my breast!

It was precision work with lots of beeping, measurements, straight red lines across the ceiling and finally, marking on my skin of the area that will receive radiation. 

I initially thought radiotherapy would be on part of my left breast.  Turns out, it will be on the entire breast with even generous margins all around.  The area marked extends right to my collar bone and under my left arm.  A large surface, according to me.

But really, I am pleased.  Too many people have been telling me that I should have just had a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy, that with Ca, it is best to remove the whole thing rather than bits of it.  So I am hoping radiation to the entire breast will take care of that issue. 

On a related note, I must say I felt a bit awkward being so exposed to male nurses.  It is okay to be barechested under anaesthesia or within the confines of a medical treatment room with ONE doctor (I am well at ease with the surgeon and now quite chummy with the onco).  But to be there in a room with male nurses discussing mundane stuff was....awkward. 

Nevermind.  Torture kept me clothed but stripped me of my feminity in so many ways.  Rx can see my breasts daily, just as long as it leaves the rest of me on the highway to ticking right!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

You and me

Your eyes trouble me.  Your situation worries me.  You remind me of me.

I am so imperfect.  If only you knew.  I am so broken.  If only you knew.

You will not know.  I am me and you are you.

The world is merciless.  It will write you off, as it will me.  Just because you are you and I am me. 

Let's make an effort.  Let's make it.

The world belongs to you, as it belongs to me.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

When teardrops forget...

"To cry over reality is good and right.  To cry over illusion is futile and wrong.  Or is it?  The trouble is, reality and illusion are so intertwined sometimes that even the teardrops forget why they are being expelled from this body." - Famously Anonymous

Between the high of yesterday and the low of today, over a million thoughts have swinged through my brain.  I feel overwhelmed with so much elation, splashes and sunshine.  Something went awfully awry somewhere.

I will blame it on the absent hormones in my body. Because explaining it any other way would demand that I look closely at myself.  And that, I must avoid doing at all costs.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Creases

Just like that, Mr Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's concert got cancelled.  What a bummer!!!

Thank God for the weekend getaway!!!  I am planning on walking, eating and watching a lovely pack of children have fun.

On another note, I am quite happy torture is over.  Walking into that room to have a blood test today got my stomach churning.  It is all so ridiculously psychological now....the whole cancer thing is more psy than physical these days. 

But really, I am immensely relieved that torture is over (anyone noticed how I refuse to use the C word here?)  The hospital will be seeing me every single day for the next 5 weeks (except on weekends) and although it is far from being my favourite hang-out place, I won't mind the daily visit.  It is something that will Insha Allah become routine soon enough.  As long as it is not torture, I shall be fine IA.

There is something else that is bugging me these days...pulling at the corners of my mind, even when I sleep.  I hate this! 

Another bummer.....hoping the sea breeze will iron out all these little creases in my existence!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Nutty pleasures and big ideas

So, just like that, I have spent a little fortune these past couple of weeks.  To please myself.  On food, clothes, Rahat tickets and now on a one-day get-away to smell some salt on the breeze.

I am alive.  And when one is alive, one does crazy nutty stuff.  Like I am doing these days.  Little insignificant things that fleetingly make me feel good but have hardly any lasting effects.

Life is really funny.  When I had the luxury of planning big, I was thinking small.  Now, with the notion of death that much closer, courtesy of Ca, I am having grand ideas occupying my thinking like a huge mahogany table would a stately dining room!

It really does not matter whether these big ideas get seeded and grow.  The very fact that I have them is a statement of some sort. 

So, yes, I will run after little nutty pleasures and big ideas.  Simply because I am alive. Alhamdulillah.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Something something.

I want to DO something.  Something small or something big.

Something that will revive my brain and my legs.  Yes, walk and talk.  Walk the talk.

Something that will get me out of the cocoon of my home, away from my lovely bed, out into the sunshine and the rain.

Something that will immerse me into something else other than me and cancer.

Something that will make my soul taste beauty and grace and abundance and tears and hearbreak and joy and laughter and hugs and cheese and chocolate and kisses.

Something new, edgy, risky.  Something good. 

Yes, I want to do something.  Something something.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Words running away...

When words run away, there is no point in chasing them. Something else will take their place. It is the law of substitution again.

I don't mind. My words are running away.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Taking sides

I am one of those people who takes sides.  I DO NOT sit on the fence.  I pick my camp.

And tonight, it was not difficult at all to pick which side I am on. 

I have few childhood memories.  My brain is just wired weirdly when it comes to memory.  Some things I remember with such stark clarity.  Others I do not recall, almost as if I never lived them. 

One of the things I remember is being a child who had not done well at CPE exams.  I felt dim.

Truth is, I am not dim.  No one really is.  We are all just different.  Beautifully so.

So, when a system puts the spotlight on you and instead of bringing out the sunshine in you, it makes you feel dim, you need to get out of it. 

Because at the end of the day, it is the spotlight that is dim.  It simply could not see your brightness.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sleep

My love,

Why do I resist you?  Why are you avoiding me?

Come back please.

I need you,
S

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I like people

I must be about 3/4 of the way into this cancer journey now.  With only the Rx leg left, tonight feels like a good time for a mid-term assessment.

I remember starting this journey in Jan/Feb this year with at times frantic, panicky emotions and at other times romantic fantasy-filled notions of how I will handle it all.  

So how has it been?

It is no walk in the park people.  It is not fun.  It is not easy.  It is not terrible. It is just long and tiring.

But!  Yes, there is a but!  This is one fascinating life-changing journey.  It is doing what any calamity does to a soul: it gives it a new life. 

I could go into the one thousand and one ways of how I am a "changed" person, but that would require too much typing.  So I will take one example only.

I, Shafeenaaz, have come to like people :)

Yes, my allergy to homo sapiens has disappeared!  It may have taken me over 35 years, but finally, finally, I am learning to appreciate the power of human life.  Every SINGLE human life.

And for that, I am grateful to the One who is The Witness. :)

Opening Doors

Today, seeing a brother struggle to make sense of a world that is not his by choice, I was reminded again that faith is something quite complex.  It is not just belief or working righteousness or praying or being a good human being.

It is also accepting.  Taking the hard blows.  Right in your stomach. And NOT punch back.  Not even dodging the next punch.

Faith is when you need to close some doors on this earth.  Because only when some doors are closed here are those above opened for us.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Wilted Flower?

I feel like a wilted flower...or should I say wilted creature?  Because frankly I don't feel like a flower at all.    I have not felt remotely pretty in a long time now.  But I do feel wilted.  It is this flu.

I spent last night with such short breaths that today saw me consulting a lung specialist instead of enjoying the sunshine and landscapes of this little piece of paradise called Mauritius.

Now, there is nothing more reassuring than a doctor who is more worried about me than I myself am! He frowned a lot, peeked and poked at me a lot and sent me rushing for a chest Xray immediately.  Alhamdulillah the Xray was clear, but he thought long and hard before prescribing me some heavy antibiotics and 3 other little capsules which I am simply not bothering to know what they are supposed to do for my lungs. 

So all in all, we are thinking this is just a nasty flu, and nothing related to the cancer.  Incidentally, it struck me today that henceforth, any little big thing that my body does or does not do may or may not be related to cancer! That somewhere there may be a connection line between little manifestations here and there and Ca.  But I am trying not to think about it much. I am quite frankly tired of diseases/illness.   True enough, for the next 5 days I shall have to fight back the urge of vomitting at the sight of pills, but I have a good collection of happy thoughts to turn to for such times.  Alhamdulillah. 

It's all in the mind people.  It's all in the mind.  I have learnt to trick my thoughts.  To shift them, block them, replace them.   It is the law of substitution. It helps tremendously.

So tonight, it is loud pumping music in my earphones.  To drown out the other soulful sounds.  To get the wilted creature to perk up a bit :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Breathing space

My PC is alive again.  I don't exactly know what went wrong or where, but it is working and that is all that matters.

My memory and my eyes are playing dirty tricks on me.  The memory is completly absent these days, while the eyes are apparently seeing ghosts from the past.  Nevermind.

This flu is really exhausting me.  I wish it would go away now.  It has been hugging me so tightly for the past couple of weeks that I am now suffocating!  What is worse is that it has stolen the fire in me.  I have no energy to gloriously celebrate the end of torture.  And I am getting tired of sounding like a frog. I need a break from this relationship.  Some breathing space. 

There are 2 new members in my cancer club. Both women about my age.  One of them is actually pregnant and undergoing chemotherapy. But she is a tough cookie....she is doing it all with panache and a nonchalance that I wish I had. 

So instead of moaning further, I will now pen off and read other blogs or stalk some friends on FB :)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

OMG!

I have just been re-gifted my words....from January 2005  (Thank you A).  And I am SHOCKED!

OH MY GOD!!!  Did I write all that?  Was it ME???  Which me?  Where is that me now?

Here's how my blogging started people:

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Beginning

Hi everyone

To start off, let me just reassure everyone....

I am your average citizen of the world with no criminal records, no mental records, no outstanding financial records but plenty of emotional records...of all kinds.....so I guess that makes me just a common mortal.

I am not sure how far i will take this blog but as an initial guess, I think you will find here a mix of thoughts, feelings, views on the world and also, my favourite topic of the moment, religion.

Now before anyone freaks out, please note that I am a liberal fun-loving moderate believer in whose life religion plays a stabilising factor...

So welcome everyone...and let's get talking.



I doubt that I will share more of my old posts here.  That person I used to be does not seem to be around anymore!   There really is no point in bringing back the dead!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Blogging self-destructively

I can already forsee a time when I will pull this blog down.....scrap it, or private it...whatever.

When I go through my own posts, I realise that there is a lot of me out there through this space.  Most days I am okay with it.  But tonight, it is annoying me.  Or is it the bad taste in my mouth that will not go away that is annoying me?  Or the fact that I woke up at noon today?  Or my inability to yank myself out of this lethargy and slow-mo life I am leading these days?  Go figure...

Anyway, what started out as an urge to write and a compulsive need to remember (later) has turned into a platform where close and not-so-close ones get to read my thoughts and emotions. 

I have personally invited some people to this space, who in the past I would never have let into my personal sphere....colleagues, friends, some family members, bosses, ex-bosses, exes in general.

When I look at my stats counter, I can identify those who read me on a regular basis based on their location. From Geneva to Doha, from USA to UK, from Dubai to Pakistan, from India to UAE, the East side of Mauritius to the West side, it is quite a few people who read me.  I am heartened.

But the trouble is blogging demands a fair amount of disclosure.  At least for me it does.  I am no writer.  I write only about what moves me.  In the end, it is just a collection of experiences,  mostly mine but occasionally a few extracted vicariously from the lives of those around me.

If I feel comfortable with what I write, I am sure a lot of folks think it is too much personal information out there.  Anyhow, for now, blogging is just an activity that keeps me entertained.  It is something to do.

But, I can feel it coming (annoyance is quite high tonight!)...the day when this space will disappear.  Like the other blog. 

Would pulling down my own words qualify as self-destructive behaviour?  I wonder...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

This July

I found it!!!  I found it!!!  I found it!!! 

My post-torture celebration.  Insha Allah it will be a night with Rahat Fateh Khan on 22 or 23rd July.  My ears can't wait.

To all of you who want to join in the celebrations, come meet me there.

And it is not just a one-off celebration!  I am eagerly awaiting an Andrea Bocelli CD (my French connections to get working on that!) and yes, new shoes at the end of the month!

This July seems goody-packed. Alhamdullilah  :)

Chemo No.6 - Drawing the line

The sign of a good day is when you close your eyes in peace at night.  I am about to surrender to that.

Today has been Alhamdulillah good.  It was my 6th and last chemo session.  Very nauseous but it'll pass.  Just a few more days.

All I know is that Insha Allah I am NEVER EVER going through chemo again.  I do not know what life has in store for me in the future.  But I DO know that I will not allow my future to include chemo.  No medical advice will convince me to go through this again.  My will will stand in the way.  

Like in all bad relationships, life brings you to a point where you need to draw the line. 

Tonight is where I draw the line with chemo.

Adieu Chemo.

Friday, 1 July 2011

News

News!!!! How tantalizing they are!!!  For some, it means a new beginning, for others a huge headache.  But the beauty of it really lies in the fact that no one, absolutely no one, can know whether it contains any good or bad in it for themselves.

I think news are gifts that come differently wrapped.  Some are crispy and shiny in appearance while others look dull and boring.  Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, only time has the ability to unwrap the gifts, sometimes to reveal pretty little things, at other times to release foul smelling odours that no one suspected were lurking underneath all the gloss and candy coloured paper!

Anyhow, today saw some news for some folks at work. Lots of excitement.

My news came from a sample of blood drawn by a needle.  My blood results are looking good, Alhamdulillah.  So Insha Allah, I will be undertaking my last chemo round tomorrow ( no, that is today 1st July)!!!!  I don't think I have been this excited at the idea of chemo! 

Soon, Insha Allah very soon, my hair will grow back.  And with it, I will reclaim every morsel of my self that has eluded me lately.  That is VERY exciting news. :)