29 Oct WSB Untold Stories: Story of a Cancer Survivor
By Maryam Mohammed Amjed
My name is Momo. I live with my family in KSA. In April 2015, I just touched my abdomen accidentally and felt something hard. I told my mother who took me to the hospital the very next day. After scans, I found out I had a very huge mass 17x15x12cm and my kidney was not visible. Doctors were surprised to see such a huge mass because I had not a single symptom. Within two weeks, I went to the open radical nephrectomy and they removed my right kidney. I cried a lot, but as a Muslim, we have a strong belief if we lose our precious thing or get any pain (i.e. kidney was removed), in the Day of Judgment we will get a reward. I am thankful to Allah to bless me with such a lovely and supportive family and doctors.
I felt that the horrible chapter of my life was closed, but it was still there. At the end of July, my abdomen was swollen. In July till August, I went through a lot of scans and results indicated that I had 3 huge tumours in my abdomen. I had cancer but my biopsy was good as per doctors. In this time period, I swelled up from abdomen till feet. It was very difficult for me to sit, sleep, walk, drink etc. I was eating baby bites and sips. In this tough time, my Allah and my lovely family were with me. Doctors recommend me that I should go to Pakistan to a proper cancer hospital where adult oncologist and paediatrician oncologist would be under one roof because my case was rare. I was 21 years old and my tumour was a child cancer (Wilms tumour). So I went to a leading hospital in Pakistan.
My family divided – my mother & I went to Pakistan and my sibling and father remain here. In Pakistan, one of the doctors said my cancer was on the 4th stage and spread to liver, lung etc. I was advised not to leave the country for 8 months. The doctors started my chemotherapy. I was shocked not because I am on the 4th stage, but because I wasn’t allowed to go to KSA. There is a huge difference in life in both countries. I don’t have a home in Pakistan. I was born in the Kingdom and love KSA. In my whole life, I went to Pakistan only 3 to 4 times for less than a month. Now I had to suffer both cancer and living away from KSA. This was a very emotional experience for me. I was too shocked so I stop talking and laughing. My chemotherapy started with its worst side effects. After each dose, I was admitted to the hospital due to blisters in my whole mouth and I was unable to eat for a week. I lost my hair, skin tone turns dark, my weight dropped down and I couldn’t walk properly and start using a chair while praying. A girl at the age of 21 should be worried about exams, result, universities, nail arts, makeup tricks, job, fashion and style. Instead, I was worried about my result of blood count, effects of chemo on my nails, face, and eyelids and afraid of chemo and injections. I know Allah is with me in each and every step. He gave me strength and willpower. My mother supported me in this tough time. She booked a taxi and took my wheelchair to the hospital alone, listening to the bad news with a heavy heart. She encouraged me to stand, eat, walk and talk.
After the months of pre-chemotherapy and months of radiation. I became very weak. This was all due to my poor diet as I missed my food in KSA- laban, Almarai products and kubus. Then post chemo started in the end of January 2016 and it affected me a lot. My blood pressure dropped down, my haemoglobin reached to 4, platelets were very low and blood was coming from my mouth, I had an eye haemorrhage etc. Doctors told my mom that it is very difficult for me to survive and they shifted me to CCU, blood and platelets transfusion starts. My father, sister and brother came to Pakistan. They called my mom to ask if we needed anything from KSA. I said mom ask them to bring sun cola, 7 days croissant and watermelon. I was about to die in CCU still thinking about sun cola and croissant. My family prayed a lot and Allah listen to their prayer and pushed me back to life. After 10 days, my sister gave me bits of croissant and I ate almost half a croissant. My mother couldn’t believe that I could eat anything more than 2 bites. In these 10 days, I was not eating anything except a few sips of medicated milk. I felt very ashamed of myself that I didn’t cover my face in CCU due to an oxygen mask. My father took me to back to KSA for 15 days. I start recovering and got better day by day. I started to walk with my mother’s help, I started to see, talk and laugh. Then I return to Pakistan for remaining chemo. This time, my doctors were shocked to see my new behaviour. They felt I had completely changed after returning back from KSA. After a gap, doctors again started my chemotherapy.
I am now cancer free and happy to live each precious day Alhamdulillah but cancer left its marks. I returned to the Kingdom and got better day by day and side effects of chemo have almost disappeared. Now the situation is changed, we are going to exit the Kingdom in December 2018. I don’t know how I will live in Pakistan because I believe KSA is my country but I know Allah is with me and will support me in each and every step of life.
In sha Allah