Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Been A Year Now! - Happy 'Cancerversary'

Today is a day of celebration for me – It’s my one year ‘cancerversary’!!

I guess I’m not really sure how you’re supposed to count this sort of thing. Some cancer survivors choose the last day of chemotherapy or radiotherapy as their anniversary. Others select the first clear MRI scan or mammogram. There are also some survivors who choose the date of their surgery for clean margin.

For me, I consider my so-called ‘cancerversary’ to be 29 September – the day I was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. You can read about it here.

I never thought this day would come, and it’s through tear-filled eyes that my family and I will remember the last 365 days. Although in some way it seems like it just happened yesterday, in other ways it seems like it’s been forever! So much had happened since then – Sara had graduated and work with an architect firm, Mom had resigned from a developer and works with a Bank, Amir managed to get 8A’s for PMR and is now a head boy, Hafez had changed school from Al-Ikhlas to Q-Dees and we had gotten ourselves a cat (Chika) and she already gave birth to a black little kitten, just to name a few.

As for me, I am now married to the most wonderful guy in the world (at least in my world), my soulmate, Mohd Azmir - who has always been by my side throughout my battle. Thank you sayang for still being with me even after I was diagnosed with cancer. I love you so much.

Everyone is moving on with life, and for me, moving on has been a challenge in so many ways. Physically, I am only just starting to get my energy back. I still feel constantly tired and achy. I still have very little saliva and some burnt marks, and hoarse voice, but it’s been a year in remission, so who cares about those things?? Like Azmir always say, "Why sweat the small stuffs when so much else matters?".

I wish I could say that the journey was easy. Truth is, fighting against cancer has probably been one of the hardest yet most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life! I’ve shed so many tears at times when I wasn’t physically able to cope with it. But in all honesty, I have to say the joy I’ve been given by God today has far exceeded the pain that I’d endured.

Life as I knew it has changed forever. Even if I no longer have to wear that ‘fencing mask’ and go under the TomoTherapy machine, or poke myself with needles during chemotherapy, or having ulcers in my mouth and throat, this past year has touched my life irrevocably – I was sliced, cut open, fried, sewn for so many times. I had faced things that I never thought I could endure. I’ve had people lift me up in ways I’ve never been lifted up before. Some even came to me and say "We want to fight this with you". This kind of support and encouragement always keeps me going.

I’m having a tough time lately thinking about others who weren’t so lucky. I couldn’t help myself from feeling sad for those who lose their fight to this terrible illness. Some of them are still young yet their lives were taken away from them. Some had been diagnosed cancer-free and suddenly, again God took their lives from them. Is there a reason why God help me through this? Nevertheless, I am so blessed to be given this second chance by God - to appreciate life better and to inspire others. I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

So a little note for the newly diagnosed patients, I want you to know that cancer is not a death sentence, and there is definitely life after cancer. Just believe in God and who knows one day you’ll reach your one year ‘cancerversary’ too! Some tips to share:

  1. Have a strong support system around you – Your love ones, family, and friends. Those who really matter to you and will always believe in you no matter what.
  2. Make some goals during chemotherapy and after chemotherapy – It keeps you motivated and always looking forward for improvement.
  3. Never, ever worry about your physical conditions - You lose your hair, big deal. Just buy a wig or chop off your hair (Like what I did). You have permanent scars; at least it’s a living proof of your battle against cancer. I was a bit naive and foolish to worry too much about this at the earlier stage of the battle.
  4. Develop your spirituality – Always pray to God. Believe that there is always a reason why God choose you to fight this battle.
  5. Pamper yourself – Wear nice clothes, use the best perfume, go for a manicure. Love yourself, for if you don’t, how can you expect anybody else to love you?

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am so happy to be able to live another year and to still be in remission - I give God all the glory. I am also thankful to all my family and friends for your never ending d'ua and support. I wouldn't have come this far if it wasn't for you guys! I'll be back in the office this Monday (3rd Oct) and I'm a
bit nervous though, so wish me luck! I've been on medical leave for almost a year now so I would like to thank my employers, PwC for always believing in me and supporting me along the way.

Here's to many more ‘cancerversaries’ to come.

To sum up my journey:

I pray that my life will always be blessed until the end of time. Amen.