Friday, October 30, 2009

How Significant Are We?

Salam again,

Last night, my thought lingered around my late aunt who passed on more than 20 years ago when I was studying the US. She had nerve cancer I think. It attacked her right thigh. It started with a pain on her thigh. She and every one else thought that it was because she was overweight and her weight strained her thigh. So, she went to the traditional medicine practitioner and he massaged her thigh. It didn't work. And her thigh became swollen. Then, she went to another one. She also went to the hospital. Nothing happened. And the swelling got worse. Finally, it got so huge and painful that she was unable to get up. Then, finally, she was taken to the Penang General Hospital where I stayed when I underwent my chemo and radio therapy treatments. When the doctor took the first look at her swollen thigh, he shook his head and right away ordered a biopsy and to everyone's dismay, it was confirmed stage IV cancer and there was little that could be done. Chemo was her only option.

That was long time ago. Chemo treatment was a lot harsher then. From what I heard from my mother, she would scream and writhe every time the chemo drug was injected into her vein and it was unbearable to watch her in such a pain. After a few injections of chemo drug, the doctor finally gave up and said that there was nothing that they could do and continuing with the treatment would only torture her without any positive outcome in sight. Then, her family took her home and she went to meet her maker a few weeks after that at the age of 36, al fatihah.

She is still remembered by those who were close to her. My mom would still be in tears whenever she talks about her sister. My mom said that at the time of her passing she was so frail and was down to half of her precancer size. I remember her as someone who is jovial, caring and warm. I could just walk into her house and tell her that I craved for this or that and voila! you can be sure for it to be on the table for the next meal.

After we die, how long will we be remembered? Or how will we be remembered? For most of us, ordinary people, me, in particular, if I were to leave this world now, I will most probably be vividly remembered by my husband, my children and friends for 5 years at the most. Hopefully my children will keep on praying for me through out their lives. My husband would most probably take up another wife in a snap. It will take much longer for my parents. After that, most probably life will just go on and everybody will be bogged down by their daily tasks and activities and very soon, I will just exist in a small compartment of their memories. And as for my childrens' children, I would be almost non-existent to them. As they say time heals all wounds. And thats the way it should. I mean I would not want people to mourn for me for too long. I want them to get on with their lives and pray for me whenever they can.

Why am I talking like this? Please don't get me wrong. I'm not planning to die just yet. I'm just thinking of how insignificant we all are..I mean let's face it, how many of us are Michael Jacksons? Elvis Presleys? P.Ramlees? or great Philosophers or world leaders? These people are remembered generations after generations for their great achievements. However, people like Hitler are also remembered generations after generations for different reasons.

For the rest of us, after we are gone, we will only be remembered by people from our present or perhaps the next generation only. After that, it would be as if we never existed in this world...

Bye, for now.

May my aunt rest in peace and her soul embraced in Allah's love and mercy. Amin

"Cancer Sucks!"

Saturday, October 03, 2009


The day for me to leave for Mecca finally arrived. I was very excited and looking forward to the trip. I went with a friend. I was still on tube feeding meaning that I took in my food through a stomach tube which was inserted directly into my stomach. It was quite troublesome when you are on a long journey. And it was a long journey. The flight from Penang to Jeddah took 12 hours. I could only take water and light soup in that 12 hour flight. It was on Friday, August 21st. When we reached Jeddah, we were stuck at the Immigration for 5 hours and I still could not get any food into my hungry tummy.

After getting through the immigration, we hopped into a bus which took us on another 5 hour journey to Medina. I could only manage to put in a glass of fruit juice into my stomach on the bus. We reached Medina after dawn. Then, we got into our rooms. It was the first day of Ramadan and I made a big mistake fasting. I still felt okay and amazed at myself at how well my body tolerated the hunger pangs. On that day itself, along with a few others, I walked to the Nabawi Mosque to pray. Wow, the mosque was really breathtaking. I can't even begin to describe it. We visited the tombs of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and his friends; Saidina Abu Bakar As-Siddiq and Saidina Umar Al-Khattab, and prayed for them. I was doing fine until the time for iftar. No problem and I even bragged about it.

On the second night, we were off to Mecca to perform the umrah. We had to put on our ihram attire meaning that the clothes will have to cover the whole body except the face and palms. We had to put a head scarf as well to cover up our hair. There are also certain restrictions that need to be observed when you are in ihram attire or your umrah would be nullified.

On the way to Mecca, we stopped at Bir Ali for the ihram sunnah prayer and to express our intention for ihram. Then, we headed straight to Mecca, stopping on the way for subuh prayer. When we reached Mecca, it was already about 9 am and it was scorching hot. We were given our rooms and instructed to come down at about 11 am to do the tawaf and saie at the Masjidil Haram. We walked into Masjidil Haram through the Babussalam entrance. Thats the entrance used by Prophet Muhammad when he entered the mosque. We headed straight to the Kaabah to perform the tawaf. When I looked at the Kaabah I was overwhelmed by emotion. This is the qiblat for our daily prayers. Meaning that this is the direction we face when we perform our prayers. And here I am, feeling very fortunate to be given the chance to look at it for real, with my own two eyes. I felt so small in front of Allah.

I took the opportunity to pray for my good health, good life, my family, my parents, friends and other cancer sufferers.

The tawaf, amazingly was not that tiring. Fortunately, there were not too many people. Probably because it was just the first week of Ramadan. I managed to touch the Hijir Ismail and kept on praying until we completed the seven rounds of tawaf. Then, we were set for the saie where we have to walk or brisk walk to and from Safa and Marwah 7 times. This is to emulate what Siti Hajar did looking for water when her son the Prophet Ismail was crying of thirst at Marwah. I felt so weak and tired after the 4th trip and thought that I would pass out. I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to complete the saie. At the same time, I was thinking of Siti Hajar running to and from the Safa and Marwah under the hot sun, barefoot on the dessert gravel and sand. That thought really kept me going and finally I managed to complete the saie.

On the next day, I went to do another round of tawaf and saie. Managed to perform the terrawih prayers in Masjidil Haram. Alhamdulillah. However, that night I was hit with a severe waves of diarrhea and nausea. I had very bad stomach ache. The next morning I started throwing up and I could not fast. By afternoon, I started throwing up tea-like liquid. It could be blood from my stomach. Then, I could not stand it anymore and requested to be taken to the hospital.

I was worried that my cancer might have attacked my stomach. At the hospital, the doctor did a blood test and infused 2 pints of saline. Alhamdulillah the test came back ok. My blood was alright. The doctor suspected that I've got a very mild ulcer. Probably due to the long hours I went without food on the long journey. He prescribed some medication and I've been alright since then. And everything was just smoothsailing after that.