Happy Cancerversary

On this day one year ago, life as I knew it changed forever.

I had been told after a short spell of illness that there was metastatic cancer in my body.

Just like that, boom everything changed colour, taste, feeling, my world as I knew it over in a 20 minute doctors meeting.

ARE YOU FUCKING SURE

sprang to mind

I DON’T WANT THIS

THIS ISN’T PART OF THE PLAN

Also I had dealt with enough medical shenanigans having had a traumatic miscarriage three months previous.

I was shell shocked, that this young brown girl had been picked to have cancer.

How did it manifest inside me in such a short amount of time?

I have barely lived! 

I felt disgusted because I did not know anyone going through it, because everyone I knew that had cancer was DEAD.

Cancer = Death no wonder I spiralled into panic.

Thanks to modern medicine and my stubborn persistence to live i’m still here give or take some intense nerve pain and a restricted arm.

I’m at the end of my natural prognosis (6-12 months without treatment) so everything from here on out is ‘extra time’ baby.

Women remember everything, it’s so annoying that I remember my diagnosis date along with lots of other useless information like my first date with Gareth.

Women use these dates as annoying markers for goodness knows what, just to add extra admin to our busy little brains.

As I write this the tree in my back garden is full of cherry blossom once again, I feel emotional as I compare the two springs, one where I was sick and full of uncertainty and one where i’m diagnosed as sick and still full of uncertainty.

With my G – June 2018

So much has happened between these two seasons I am no longer the same girl, my fertility and future out of my hands, uncertainty once again casting shadow over my day to day life.

It has been quite the challenge to accept that I cannot plan my future like I can plan menus, yet I feel totally and utterly comfortable living like this now.

A year on after trying a couple of target drugs which have stopped working I am now undergoing a new combination of Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy and Targeted therapy for my particular circumstance.

At Maidstone Hospital having my second round of combination drugs June 2019

I have been non responsive to target drugs yet no new mutations,  the combination is called ‘IMpower 150’, cool name right?

The initial fear, CHEMO, visualising sick people and bald heads made me shudder, but I have cancer through no choice of my own so must look to overcome and conquer my fears and work through this new chapter that I have quite frankly been blessed with.

This combination has proved to show positive results and brand new on our beloved NHS.

I recently had a break from writing and work commitments as chronic pain took hold and robbed me of my attention span and ability to physically write, walk and carry out the simplest of daily tasks.

I am improving and responding to this new treatment everyday and sharing my vulnerability through this whole process has completely……. IMpowered me

Ending on a terrible joke because my sense of humour has also come back.

Ha. xxx

Bristol – May 2019

Sisterhood

I have been thinking about a word I use a lot, ‘sisterhood’ and what it means.

I am an exceptional circumstance where the greater beings above gifted me with three wonderful sisters and my mother who gave birth to all four of us by Caesarian section.

ALL FOUR!

Disappointment when a girl is born is quite common in south Asian culture. Boys are viewed as much superior, so there was me, the first born in 1989 then Sanam and Ikra were born a few years apart.

GIRLS, would you believe?

Health risks increase with every Caesarian procedure yet my mother went there and out popped girl number four, Nafeesa in 1996.

We are like a girl band, without the musical talent.

From a young age I have been surrounded by lots of girls, crappy girly toys, polly pockets, barbies & hair clips.

We spent a lot of time ruining my mother’s makeup and shuffling around the house in her court shoes and clothes whilst she cooked us dinner.

I am lucky that this is what I know, as I grew older my feelings towards friendships were similar to my family.

I look not just for loose acquaintances but for sisters.

Girls I could talk to about anything and everything and be myself around, people I could support and turn to in times of need.

I grew up with my next door neighbour Sarah Inge, born three months apart we attended primary and secondary school together. She is classed as the unofficial ‘fifth sister’, we have spent ridiculous amounts of time together and have a truly special bond.

I look at my beginnings and as rocky as other aspects of my life have become I can see my roots were very strong.

I had the female foundations set up to support me today and I’m extremely grateful for this.

When my parents divorced it was vitally important for my sister unit to stick together.

My mother tainted with a divorce status, divorce being massively frowned upon in south Asian culture.

Then there was us,

FOUR GIRLS, what a burden.

How the hell was my mother going to manage to marry us all off on her own, would have been a popular thought of hers and many south Asian women.

My family are surviving and have got to this point despite the societal, financial and cultural challenges because we stuck together through it all.

To this day despite a stage 4 cancer diagnosis we have a multi award winning female run restaurant in a male dominated industry.

We would not be where we are without the army of supporters (majority women) behind us, lifting us up in times of need and generally being our cheerleaders.

The warped messages women have been taught for so long is to simply hate ourselves and to hate each other, how gross is that?

In my culture the worst critics are women, when I visited Pakistan recently it was the women who were giving me war style interrogations about why I wasn’t married still and being critical about my clothes not being fashionable enough.

The men seemed way more relaxed, with passing questions and comments.

Maybe my aunties mouths were bigger, or they had genuine limited views on what or who women should be, I think it’s the latter and that’s really sad.

Us ladies are extremely hard on ourselves, in a mans world we need to unpick what we have been taught by society and media.

Women are so beautiful and so unique, Hollywood and the era of perfect celebrity is dying, we are better than that in 2019.

We don’t need to be married off like property and become someone’s ‘responsibility’, we have greater minds than that!

We are not defined by our titles or how many children we have or dishes we can cook, we are bigger than that.

There was a saying emblazoned on my restaurant Masala Wala Cafe windows for the first year of trading, it read ‘women are the real architects of a community’, a quote by Harriet Beacher Stowe.

This rings so true, we are there quietly working, helping the world go round at the credit to men.

Globally we have made plenty of progress so far but only through sisterhood will we make more noise and achieve better equality for women in this world.

When women support women, mountains move, stick together ladies xxx