Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Living in the World of Cancer

Hello all,

March 19 marked one year of me in the World of Cancer. On that date last year, I was sitting on the dentist chair in the Hospital Sultan Abdul Halim, listening numbly to the oral surgeon telling me that the lump in my tongue was cancerous and I had to be referred to the ENT specialist. Then, the rest is history. On April 16, I will be celebrating my first anniversary for being tongueless. What an eventful year it was! And yet, I am still in one piece….Alhamdulillah…

Being in the World of Cancer, you don’t usually think in long term. You live by the day. Everyday is a blessing. Everyday is a gift. In my new world, people talk about 5 year survival. If you survive up to the fifth year, it is considered a huge success and definitely calls for a huge celebration. I still have a long way to go…I need to go through 4 more anniversaries to hit that 5 year mark. Another thing about being in this privileged world, when you meet your comrade for the first time, you don’t ask “How are you doing?” but rather “What type of cancer have you got?”. The next question would probably be “How long?”. Normally we recognize each other from their thinning hair or skinny body and if they are strangers to you, you just nod understandingly. It’s easier to recognize an oral cancer survivor because of the way they talk and the way they eat or drink. This is because of the slurring speech and when they eat they have to tilt their heads a bit so as to push the food to the throat. For a muslim breast cancer survivor, it’s a bit more difficult because they wear the head scarve (tudung).

Many people say that I am a very strong person for I don’t look sad or depressed. I haven’t changed much, they say. Whenever, they tell me a good joke I would laugh heartily. In short, they say that strangers would not be able to tell/guess what I have gone through. Am I worried? Am I sad? Of course I am. I am just human. But, I won’t let the worries and sadness consume me. Life goes on.

Well, you see, I have cancer. So what? That doesn’t stop the sun from rising and shining. People don’t quit their jobs because of that. The world still goes round. Nothing in the world would pause and wait for me. So, as long as I am still granted the ability to move around, laugh, eat, be understood, and use my mental faculties as well as before entering the cancer world, I have no reason to brood in self pity…..

Bye, for now.


NK Valli said...

Hi Sharifah

You have the best mental attitude. Life still goes on and we will meet other challanges which we must have the strong will power to face.

May we all have many happiness years filled with sunshine, joy and laugher...ha..ha!

Sharifah Rashidah bt. Syed Ahmad said...

Hello Valli,

You are a strong person too.

Hope things are going well for you.
Stay strong, my friend...

pete said...


Another gift you have is expressing yourself in writing which can take the the reader from laughing one minute to being sad the next.

Your vivid thoughts in writings and expressions are what many of us think and feel. However, many of us do not have your ability to express those same or similar thoughts in a manner which gives readers a better understanding of life as we know it.

We go from our initial diagnosis to where we are today - awaiting the next milestone.

Great you have passed the one year mark!


Anonymous said...


In 1997 I was diagnosed with Oral Cancer, specifically tongue cancer, squamous cell. April of that year found me in a 14 hour surgery that left me half a tongue. That was the easy part, surgery that is. The hard part for me was treatment: chemotherapy and radiation. I barely survived and in fact, I sometimes wished I would die, just get on with it. Yet, here I am almost 12 years later and I'm doing OK. Not great, but good. I was stage four at diagnoses and my chances of survival according to my physicians? Less than 10%. I beat the odds and to this day, the doctors who treated me, call me their miracle. Never give up hope. Never ever. Things happen for a reason and things change from bad to good all the time, every single day. I'm not a deeply religious person but I do believe in the good of people. I believe in the love of family and friends...and I believe in myself, some days better than others, but still, I have never given up hope. Good luck.