Sunday, July 19, 2009

Missing in Action -- sorry

Dear all:

I am sorry that I have been missing in action but life took over for a little bit and I returned to work The first week of July.

Cancer stuff:
The hair is growing back thick and curly. I can finally style it and it looks good. I have been working to out to get healthy and lose some weight (not working). I have been being super healthy with what my family puts in their mouth. I started to see a therapist to help me deal with the depression that hit after treatment was done. I did not realize how much bullshit we push a side when we go into survival mode. It is also very scary to not see the doctor on a weekly basis like I have been doing for the past 15 months. I have to learn to deal with the "how you are doing now comment" that I get all the time. If you want advice from me, please do not ask a friend who was battling cancer the following:

1. "how are you doing now". We hate this! We want to shout back and say "well, we are not dead yet". Just ignore the question. Say something like, I am excited to see you.

2. Don't say "great hair cut"....we did not have a choice. Say something like, you look great, love how you are making this work...

3. Do not say "wow, you gained weight in your stomach"....we know we have. We do not need you to tell us.

4. Do not tell us about the family or friend who went through the same thing.

Personal life:
Having some issues with work stuff. Very stressed out about some bad advice I was given. I hope it is resolved by end of July. I hate living in limbo land. Found a tick in my daughter's head. Very worried that it doesn't turn into that "target" sign or Lime disease.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Saying Good bye to a friend

Today I say good bye to my friend Karen Graham. When I posted on 4/25 that I had just saw her and admired her strength, I didn't realize I had to say good bye to her this soon.

Her passing is hitting me like a ton of bricks! Part sad because I lost a good friend. Part because she lost her battle to Cancer and she considered herself a Breast Cancer Survivor for the past five years. She was the strongest, toughest woman I had come across.

I am scared this is my fate but as my sister and husband has told me that as Muslim my death is destined and will go when it is my time. I know that is easy to say but when you are faced with mortality as I have it gets scary. I am not scare of dieing, I am sad that I will not see my kids grow up. I am sad that Karen wanted to dance at her grandchildren's wedding and now she won't.

They say people come into your life for a reason, I know why she came into my life.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

To my friend Karen Graham

Last night my mom and I went to a Cancer Gala to support a friend Karen Graham who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer five years ago. She is third generation with breast cancer, she lost her mother and grandmother to this. In the past five years, she has gone through more then anyone I know. The cancer has spread to her Lungs and now her brain. Seeing her at this event with her husband holding her oxygen meds and she still week from the hospital stay a few days ago, made me realize what a fighter she really is. As weak and beaten as she was, she got up and danced a slow dance with her husband (no Afghan woman will do that when released from the hospital two days earlier).

A little history on how Karen and I met. I was her client and her sales force called on me. Part of my job is to negotiate the very best ad price for her station. So when I would go back to her sales group and tell them to redo the numbers, I would get a call from Karen and would strong arm to accept the rate she was selling. She was the one sales manager that I had night sweats about talking to because I could never have the right numbers or history to win a negotiation round. She was the strongest, toughest little woman I had ever met. She did scare me a little.

When I got diagnosed I called her and told her I didn't know what I was doing and I needed help. She got in her car and met me at an Ice-cream shop in Cherry Hill and over ice-cream she talked all the fear out of me. She handed me a scarf and teached me how to wear a scarf on my head when my hair falls out. She handed me books and inspirational bag to help me get through this. She let me cry and she understood every fear I had. After my friend Sharon, she was the next call I would make every time I was lost or scared. Their strength, religious believe and positive outlook on this deadly disease made me get through my terrible year.

While going through everything she is going through, she still helps the newly diagnosed girls. So once again, I am asking all of you out there to send a prayer to her because she wants to see and dance at her twin granddaughters wedding!

Karen - thank you for being there for me, I hope you allow me to be there for you!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Being Thankful!

We finally got some sun this weekend, the weather was just perfect and sunny here. Off course it is 45 degrees and raining today. This weekend, my mother and sister helped me get the patio ready for the summer. They pulled out the chairs and purchased new cushions for the outside patio. Iqbal has to bring out the table from the garage but he does things on his time table, not mine. I learned in my 10 year of marriage that I cannot nag and force him to do things my way or when I need it because it will never get done and we will end up in a fight. So I learned the next best way to get things done by him....cook him his favorite meal (anything with rice and meat), Kabob and a khalwa does it too.

If that doesn't work, I tell Nina to nag her baba (always works because he adores her). Before she was born, he was worried that he would not love a daughter. You know the culture thing where we love our sons more then our daughters. He had also had made his mind up that his daughter was not going to go to college and will get married early. Well, 7 years ago we had this beautiful, perfect, quite daughter who never cried. She smiled at everything. She slept through the nights at 3 months. This little girl wrapped him around her little finger soo tightly that his heart melts when she speaks. All his fear about loving her and not educating her went out the window! She loves him just as deeply as he loves her. She kisses him every chance she gets (when he is awake or a sleep). He loves the fact that she talks, talks, talks. She talks with her hands as if she is a 50 year old grandmother and she is super smart. I hope and pray that their relationship stay this strong and lovable during those critical and challenging time when she is a teenager. Last night, she put her arm around my neck and said "mommy, tell me about your life, tell me about your children, tell me about your husband". My only complaint against her is that she is a bag lady. OMG does she put everything (I mean everything, including junk mail) in bags and puts them in her room. That alone can be a few pages of this blog!

The family friend: My mom and I went to visit her because she went home from the hospital after four weeks. When we went over there, she had her nurse there. She looked good but I felt bad that she couldn't communicate with the nurses and doctors because her English was not good. It made me feel bad that she had to rely on her dad or sister to help her communicate her needs and feelings. I am grateful that she is here to get her treatment. I wish she had attended some schooling so she can learn English. There is soo much about this disease that has to be communicated directly with the doctor and not through someone else (i.e. how do you tell your father to tell the doctor that you want to freeze your eggs so you can have a baby someday? or how do you tell your dad to tell the doctor that you have blisters down there?). I can see her dad and mom are very supportive. She has a very good and extended family but I wish she had attending school before she had got married.

On flip side, my nurse sister made me realize that too much information could be a bad thing. The fact that she doesn't know everything could help her (while it drove me crazy, I googled everything, read every blog and bulletin). I offered her my support and told her I would there for her if she needed.

Moral of this post.....please, please, please educate your children. It will come in handy for them one day. We are not immortal and cannot always protect them, therefore we have to arm them with education to make their own decisions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Still feeling down but not as hard on myself!

I don't know if it is the rain or the pain killer but my mood is as black as the clouds over my house.

After reading my post last night, I gave myself a break.....I am not a bad mom! I was just having a down moment. If you ask Sami he will tell you I am a smart mom who cannot do math. He thinks I should run for presidency! If you ask Nina she will tell you I am a "lovely mom" who cannot cook. She tells me Moorika (my mom) is a better cook then me but she ate those hamburgers I cooked last night and said they were good. She let me curl her hair for school today.

So for all the moms out there, I guess it is okay / normal to have a dark moment about what terrible people we are. In my case, it keeps me humble because if I thought I was perfect, no one would want to be near me. I am far from perfect as you can see from yesterday's post!

Today is big TAX day here in the US. We sent our final tax papers today to make sure Uncle Sam won't think we are late. I feel sorry for all those people who waited to the last minute and then wait in line at the post office until Midnight -- WHY? you have 3 months to get them done. Most companies give out their W2s by Mid January and all taxes need to be done by 4/15.

Finally -- when will this cold, wet rain stop. It is the middle of April, we should have great weather with the sun on our face!!

AS for my cause to open Cancer Clinic in Afghanistan -- no one and I mean no one has responded to all those letters, emails I wrote!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I am a bad mom!

I must be the most terrible mother of all time for wanting some peace and quit from her own kids. The kids were driving me crazy being home all week for Easter break. Sami played Video games all week and ate when I asked to give his eyes a break. I couldn't feed the kid enough. Nina's favorite words were "I am bored" and when she would get really bored, she would pick on her brother and then it would end up in a head hurts thinking about them fighting.

This morning I realized that I am bad mom, here is my top 10 reasons why I am bad mom (I am sure my husband, mom and sister have more to add):

1. The laundry sits in the dryer for a few days
2. I don't Iron ever (unless we are going somewhere). I go out of my way to buy clothes that do not need ironing
3. I am not a good cook,I can cook the basic Afghan food but my kids will not eat it so I just don't cook. Canned Ravioli, Cup a Noodle, Mac and cheese are basic :(
4. I let them eat cake and pop tarts for breakfast
5. I clean the house during two times (if someone is coming over or I am PMSing)
6. I do not enforce teeth brushing
7. I let them watch tv all the time (the computer and games are limited)
8. I don't brush my daughters hair when I know she needs to
9. I don't enforce they clean their room -- I am not teaching them responsibility
10. I don't read to them every night :(

This is really depressing, I should be more healthy with my kids. These kids are going to be the adults of tomorrow and I am installing some bad habits. I normally don't let these things bother me but today it is. Maybe this rain is getting me down or the fact that I have been home with nothing to do for over four weeks!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Feeling 90%!

For the record, I am feeling much better. The pain is gone (I guess I just need a good stay in bed). Yesterday I got my 1 of 3 chemo treatment (Hercepton). The kids are home for Spring break (and driving me crazy). So Sami went to sleep at Moor's house and I took Nina with me. As I sat there to get my 3 hour treatment through my port in my chest, I saw a very young girl come in in a wheel chair for her treatment. She was wearing the bandanna to cover her bald head and I though about myself a year I was at exactly where she was. I realized how hard life was at that moment we are living it (like this little girl who got wheel chaired in). I remembered how I hated my bald head (spent more money on wigs then food at the time). I hated going into Chemo because I would feel tired and out of it after. Now, I am counting the day to my last treatment (two more left). My hair has come in nice and curly (very short right now), the nurse even commented how she wished she had the gut ts to cut it short and wear it the way I am wearing it. Yesterday I managed to get dressed cute and put make up on (it has been a long time since I had a flat belly and some foobs -- I know Afghans are not suppose to talk about their body parts....but damn it I worked hard for this). By now most of you have realized I am not a typical Afghan.

I took Nina (my 7 years old) and she was not fazed on mommy sitting in a chair and getting treatment. She kept reading children books to me and asked me if the treatment was killing the cancer inside my body. Sometimes I wish we could think like little kids and believe everything is black and white.

You know what scares me the most now that this ordeal is almost done? The fact that I might need to face this again some day. We have no clue why people get cancer, we have no cure for it, so how can I be certain that in 4, 5 or even 10 years it might not come back again. My Cancer is the result of my body making too much Protein, while all these treatment, radiation killed it....I still have no clue how my body made it to begin with. So my biggest fear is what if I have to do this all over again when this cancer decides it wants to invade another part of my body. The beef,lamb and even chicken we eat are all pumped with steroids, is this having a negative effect on my body. I do love a good steak!

Do you remember that family friend I told who got rushed back from Afghanistan because she was sick. The doctors diagnosed her with Leukemia. I called her mom to see how she was doing. I told her mom to please tell her daughter to freeze her eggs so she can have a chance to have a baby later in life. I think her mom didn't understand what I was asking her so she said she didn't know and will tell her husband. Last night on the news, this man had frozen his sperms when he was diagnosed with Leukemia 22 years ago. He got married a few years ago and decided he wanted a baby. He took his frozen sperms and they just had a healthy 8lb baby 22 years later! I was just trying to explain that Chemo can kill her eggs and she may not be able to have kids later when she beats her Cancer. But again, her mom didn't understand me and some people might see it as unislamic. This is why we need to get the message out and be prepared for life.

Iqbal and I discussed if I wanted to put a side a few eggs before I started chemo. We had already decided before I was diagnosed that we did not want anymore children so when the doctor asked me to consider freezing my eggs, we discussed it one more time and we both felt that we still did not want to have anymore children in the future. We felt blessed to have a son and daughter. If in the future, after chemo it happened we will be okay with it. If it did not happen we are still okay with our decisions. Off course this morning fighting over the remote control between the two confirmed we made the right decision.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I am not superwoman!

Today is 3 weeks since my surgery. I was all night with pain in my upper right chest and this morning it hurt to breath. After some painkillers and breakfast the pain went down and I could breath into that "lung breath thingy" without too much pain. The last few days I have been going as if I didn't have surgery. I was driving, cleaning the kitchen and even picking up clothes from the laundry. Well the pain this morning reminded me to take it easy (there is a reason that the doctor said I will need 6-8 weeks to recover). I have not left the bed all day. Sami and Nina have been waiting on me.

I still have three more Hercepton treatment coming up....tomorrow is 1 of 3. I had to be on this drug for 1 year and May 21st is my last one. This wonder drug reduces the chance of getting this type of cancer (HER2/neu+) coming back by 30% in the next 5 years.

Not much to report today.....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I am a free woman!

Finally, the last drain has been removed (2 1/2 week after surgery). I did have to threaten the nurse to take them out! I still have a hard time getting off the bed. Yesterday I layed on the couch but couldn't get up, so Sami had to help me. I can walk around the development (slowly and out of breath but I manage to finish the 1 mile walk).

After the drain removal, I went out to lunch with my sisters, at first it was Hamida and Sarah but somehow Manny and Naj showed up too. It was a nice lunch, for the first time all five of us together without the kids and talked like adult (as adults as we can be). We tried to solve the world problems but it didn't happen!

Last night Iqbal and I wanted to watch a movie, so he goes upstairs around 8:40 to talk to the kids and tuck them in and comes downstairs around 9pm to put the movie on -- I was out snoring! It seems my energy level is over by 8:30....I cannot be that old! Who goes to bed at 9pm (what happen to the girl who could party until 4am and then go to class at 8am?). He keeps reminding me that we are old and I need to accept it (NEVER!)

A few days ago, I sent him grocery shopping. I told him we need eggs and fruit. He came home and told me that he didn't know how to buy eggs. He had to ask a woman at the store for help to choose eggs. He told her his wife is sick and he needs to bring home eggs. He explained to her that it was his first time shopping ever! The lady helped him pick eggs and help him shop. I told him I pick the cheapest kind. He has been a great husband. On Friday the good husband drew a line in the sand! He told me that as soon as the drains were out and I can drive - his duty as a husband are over and he will become the Pashtoon man he is! No more coffee and breakfast in bed. No more putting the laundry in the laundry machine! What am I going to do (a girl gets use to this type of stuff....I may need to be sick for a little longer). :)

To help my cause, I tried to write to all these foundations to help me open a cancer center in Afghanistan but still no one has responded. I am going to continue to try.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Damn Drains!

I was praying (even bullied) my nurse to take my last drain out - she said no. Even though the rule is that if the draining is less then 30C, the doctor should take it out (mine are draining 20c in a 24 hour period). But nurse Sharon said "no" because the stomach area is so big, she would rather be safe then sorry. If she took it out and I get infected I could end up in the hospital....which I do not want to do. So I have to live with this last drain until Monday. I told the nurse she was on my hit list....she didn't care.

Definition of a Drain: A surgical drain is a tube used to remove pus, blood or other fluids from a wound. Drains inserted after surgery do not result in faster wound healing or prevent infection but are sometimes necessary to drain body fluid which may accumulate and in itself become a focus of infection.

Yesterday was a good day. I was able to walk around my development without being totally out of breath. I have a bad headache today. Yesterday and today, I sneezed and OMG did it hurt. I felt like the "fake" belly button they created for me was going to pop out! I also cooked for the first time yesterday - Barb (my neighbor had made some turkey meatballs) so I made spaghetti and meatballs last night. Of all the 33 homes in this neighborhood, she the one person I am very close to. I am friendly with all the other ones but she and I have no limits.

On the home front - Nina had her 7th birthday on April fools day. She was so excited. She told her Baba that he doesn't have to carry her anymore because she is a big girl. As a birthday gift, he told her that he was going to carry her for one more year -- she was thrilled. She is throwing herself a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. I told her that I may not be able to go and she said that's okay because BEBE Khala will do it. So long story short, my sister got her invitation and she handed them out to 9 little girls and now we are having a party for her on Saturday (can you tell she is my daughter - no is not an option for her). Chuck E. Cheese's is a chain of restaurants here that serves Pizza (bad pizza) and has arcade, small rides, climbing equipment and slides inside. Kids and parents get stamped on their hand and then you let them run around in this restaurant while you sit and listen to hundreds of kids screaming, running and coming and asking for more tokens for the rides.......can you tell how much I love this place (NOT!).

My cause - I want to open a Cancer awareness center in Afghanistan. I wrote to a number of organization including the White House - but disappointing no one has answered. There is not a single Cancer center in my country.....what are these people to do??? I need help, advice, money to make this happen. Family friends tell me if I build it, some stupid fundamentalist might blow it up (realistic but I should at least try).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I have no Title

Salaam all:

It has been a few days since I wrote but that's only because I am so bored I do not know what to write. My days are pretty boring. Wake up at 8:30, the hubby makes me eggs and coffee. I eat, take my medicine, watch tv, surf the net, walk around the house and get back into bed. Around 12noon, I go upstairs, take a shower - scrub (yes Hamid...scrub) the wounds, put cream on it and get changed into clean clothes. I come back downstairs, have some Green chia -- by this time moore or Hamid have arrived and we chat on who called, any family updates, bla, bla, bla.... so you can see how great my life is. I had a scare last night, I had some chest pains but didn't think much of it. My sisters bullied me to go the hospital telling me that I should take something seriously. When the tech told me that it might be a blood clot, N started to cry.....which scared me. N is an ER nurse and if she is crying over a possible blood cloth, why wasn't I take it seriously. So I decided at the moment I should take everything a little serous....I cannot be that lucky! After four hours in the ER, many blood work, CT scans the doctor came in and told me that it is not a blood clot but part of my surgery....THANK GOD. The SMS messages went out to all the family members..."false alarm". When I got home, Iqbal ordered me to bed and told me I am not allowed to get up, I had never seen him so mad. Rarely does he pull the husband card but he pulled it last night.

I do have a few things to report. One I noticed that my blog and my posts on Young Cancer survivor has given people courage to ask for help and ask me questions. I really want to change the Afghan mentality on how Cancer is viewed. This is a curable (in some cases), we should talk about it, we should ask for help, we should have a support system for us.....this should not be a death sentence! Dam it I am living proof that I can live life, kick my cancer in the ass and still have a great attitude toward life. I just found out that a family friend was rushed back from Afghanistan because she has Leukemia. In Afghanistan they told her she just had a bad cold, but when they brought her to the US, they said she Leukemia and was taken the hospital :(. Please, please pray for her. She is a newly wed who was educated in the US but decided to live in Afghanistan with her new Husband. She is only 21 years old. Secondly, I decided and convinced my parents that I do not want a Lavish 'get well" party at a hall. A few reason for my decision, the amount of messages from this blog made me realize how many misfortune people are living in Afghanistan and could benefit from the money I would spent on overfed, overdressed Afghans living here in the US. Secondly, I am afraid of "nazar" from the people who come to the party.

As soon as I am able, Iqbal and I are going to Haj and then I would like to visit Afghanistan and see if I can help cancer patients there......I feel a higher calling. I need help in opening a non-profit agency to help me....WE NEED TO EDUCATE, Screen and fund our people! the family members who left me get well messages "thank you, I will call you as soon as I get a chance" Love you and thank you for thinking of me!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Going Crazy at home -- I feel like a caged bird

Today is 1 week after my reconstructive surgery. I feel much better, still sharp pains here and there but nothing like that first time in the hospital when they try to get me to sit on a chair......OMG. I am soo bored sitting at home and nothing to do....what do women do all day at home? I cannot go anywhere...between naps, pain medicine I am bored out of my mind!

I came home with four drains. The two drains on top is not draining as much and the Dr may take them out tomorrow. I have a gutt feeling the one on the bottom may stay for another week or so. They hurt when it gets pulled. The best part of the day is when I walk upstairs and take a shower. My grandmother is freaking out because in our culture they don't wet the wounds where the American Doctors wants you to take a shower everyday. So far so good, my first doctor visit is tomorrow to make sure everything is healing the way it should.

On the home front, my mom and sister come every morning to stay with me, they cook for me, clean and just entertain me (off course take my medicine, take my walk around the house, eat, drink). At night Iqbal slept downstairs with me the first night. The second night, Sami slept with me the second night and at 2am he woke up to make sure I was okay. Last night was Nina's turn. At 3am she stood by my bed and said "mommy, mommy can you get up and turn on the light so I can go to the bathroom". My little nurse was too scared to go to the bathroom in the dark....of course dad heard and he ran downstairs to make sure his girls were okay.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First night at home

What a great feeling to be in your own home. What a great feeling to have such great family around you. I came home yesterday and it felt to come home. It hurt to get up and walk but it is getting better. Before my surgery, I had no clue how painful this was going to be. I had seen enough before and after pictures on Cancer website so the scars and bruising I had expected, the pain I did not. I am also a baby when it comes to pain. At one point I refused the Hyperion shot (to prevent blood clots) but my SDubs heard me refuse and she told N who rushed in and ordered the nurse not to listen to me. I had to bear the pain of that needle every 8 hours.

So for those of you who are reading this to get a glimpse of why I did this. A year ago when I got diagnosed I attempted immediate reconstructive after my double mastectomy but they got infected and the Plastic surgeon had to remove them and told me to get my 15 month of treatment done and come back to rebuild my body. So off I went to get 15 months of all the treatment with half a body. I did not feel like a women (I am a very girly girl) and my self image started to get me depressed. So now after this surgery I feel complete again. It amazes me how great doctors are. It is amazing how they can rebuild the body! There a few professions that I has my full respect (Doctors, Cooks (yes I know not very interested but it amazes me), engineers, architect, Scientist). All of these professions builds from nothing!

My nurses just arrived (Moore and and H), my Afghan doctor. You know you are Afghan when every member of your family is a doctor. Everything gets healed with Spinach (Spasi), shorwa and food! But I do love the Green Chi.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day four and I manage to walk to the hospital computer room. I made it through this final surgery! Thank you all for your prayers (I personally feel prayer is 50% of the healing and skilled doctors is the other 50%). The first day was brutal, Iqbal showed up with the kids and I was so much in pain that I kicked them out. The next day the drugs kicked in and I was able to enjoy their visits.

Okay, the nurse is telling me to go take a shower and I can go out of here I go!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

To my Sisters / Family / Parents

On my last night before surgery, I will not write Thank you / Good bye letters like I did before but rather express it here!

Moore / Agha Jan - thank you for bringing me up the person that I am. I hope my children has the discipline and heart that you have given me. They say kids learn by example (well for starters, I am not a good cook, so we know that's not true, I cannot build anything - so Agha Jan I didn't pick that up and I cannot sew) but I do have a big heart which I learned from you both . No matter how hard our life was, you never made it see or feel it. No matter how big we became, you never let us forget where we came from. NO matter how much we had, you reminded us that we need to give back. No matter how much culture pressured you to marry off your daughters, you told us to focus on thank you for making me who I am. I know that I might have rebeled a little (yes, I said a little *wink*) but you where always there. I truly love you and pray that my kids feel about me the way I feel about you two.

To My Sisters - I cannot write to each one of you because you will sit there and read it to each other anyway! Each one of you are so different but so alike. We need a Shna dana because we truly love each other, hate each other and cannot live without each other. H - I wish you live life a little more like me and be selfish (you come first before anyone but I know you won't listen to me), N - I wish you all the happiness you are searching for. S - I now how the dreams you have and I have no doubt they will come true and my little M - life is not easy for you with so many mothers to tell you what to do but I know you can handle it. It is okay to break down once a while. If you are too tough, you might end up like me and I cannot bear to see you go through the hardship I went through! To Sdub - you were an angle who was sent to me -- I cannot express how grateful I am to you. You sent a care package for every treatment, you sent my kids gifts every week, you listened to me bitch and complain -- at the end of every conversation you made me smile. Our relationship is proof to the world that two people from different religion can be closer then family! To Z khala - you are my rock, I take my strenght from you. In the last year you have stood your ground and I am proud of you! I know it is hard.

To My kids (including all the nieces and nephew) - should you stumble on this blog many years later. You have no clue how much I love you! Everything I do is to make sure you guys can hold your head up high years later! Remember I had given one of you the moon and the other one the shiny star in the sky! I rode you all hard but it was only my way of preparing you for the hard world out there....I will be there to catch everyone of you (including my big bear N).

To my husband - who will probably only read this if I do not wake up from my surgery . I know you don't like PDA so I will not express it here to respect your wishes. There will be hand written note for you!

So now, I ask each and everyone of you to pray for me as I am going in for this surgery! I figured a way to blog on my blackerry. As soon as H gives me my Blackberry, I will let you know how I am doing. Should I not wake up, I hope my courage, zest for life gives the courage for everyone to live every day as a gift given by Allah! Enjoy your family, your friends and yourself -- make sure you can look yourself in the eye for all your actions. Don't sleep through life!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My favorite time of the day, early morning when the kids leave for school and Iqbal sleeps in. It is the time of day that I get caught up in the news, drink my coffee and just sit and relax.

I want to dedicate this page to amount of support I have received from everyone. When I started this blog it was to update friends and family on my health. I also wanted to provide a window to Muslim Women around the world that life goes on with Cancer. With any hardship in life, we turn to family and freinds to get us through. So when I got diagnosed, I wanted to reach out to other women who had gone through the same thing I did. The first person I reached out to was a co-worker who I was friendly with but never really close. I aslo looked up Muslim / Afghan women who had gone through this but found nothing. So I joined the Young Breast support group on-line and read the blogs and comments from the privacy of my home. In the past year, the Young survivor has become my source of information and my co-workers has become a 5th sister. They say people come to your life for a reason that only God has planned for!

So again, thank you for your prayers and support! It means a lot to me.

On the home front, last night I had an "Aha" moment with my son. I cooked his favorite food (Dal) and he got upset and said he doesn't like it. He said I am not a good Afghan cook (so many critics). For the last week this kid has been acting up. He has been screaming and crying over everything. I swear there must have been a full moon somewhere for him to be acting like this. It finally hit me that he is upset over my surgery because last night he asked how long I will be in the hospital. We know kids cannot talk out their emotions so they act up. Later at night I talked to him and told him he hurt my feelings because I was thinking about him at 3pm and cooked his favorite food. He said he liked it but would rather have been asked what he wants (so I named all his favorite foods and told him I knew him better then he knew himself). He laughed and said I was right - we called it a nite. Today is Nina's day but off course the controlling girl that she is, she left me a note that she wants Hot Dogs with pudding for dinner on her nite.

As for my big day -- I am starting to get nervous and excited about Thursday. I spoke to my girlfriend about her surgery and she told me the first week home will be tough. I went to the medical supply store and put the hospital bed on hold. If my insurance will not pay for it, I can rent it for $150 a month. For the first three weeks they are telling me I will have trouble getting up from a flat bed. I need to go grocery shopping today to stock up the fridge, pack my hospital bag and vacuum this living room that never gets clean.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I cannot sleep!

The past few nights I am not able to sleep. Last night, I kept waking my poor husband and asking him if he was awake. The good husband that he is, would say "yes I am awake" between snores. He told me to close my eyes and try to sleep -- as if he was talking to our 6 year old. When I sleep, I have these terrible dreams, so I just stay up and watch tv. Thank god for HBO and Showtime!

How did I get blessed to have someone like him by my side? The last few days with everything going on at work - he has stopped his world to make me happy. For him to call and ask me if I want to go out to dinner is a major indication that he is worried about me.

Today I shared with him my decision for us after surgery. He did the most amazing thing. He took my by the hand to next room (away from the kids) and sat me down. He said, I am your husband. It is my responsibility to feed you, shelter you and make you happy. He said, as long as I can work physically and mentally, I am going to take care of you and the kids. You don't ever have to worry about it. The only thing he asks for return is the silly, loud and "Carey" girl he loves back. (side note, our favorite tv show was King of Queens, he always thought my attitude was like Carey on the show. A girl who goes through life with the middle finger to anyone who does not like her way of life). I never doubted that he couldn't take care of me. I just never allowed him -- call it giving up control. Something I don't do very often.

On the home front. Laundry got done. During dinner, the kids were fighting over who gets the "cool" cup. I got so mad that I threw the cup out the back door. Off course, Nina cried and tried get her Baba to go get it. Sami got upset and said he is going to throw my blackberry out the door. Iqbal just laughed and said, kids -- mom is back.

Hamid and I Went to Bed / Bath and Beyond and looked at the Wedge pillow. It was not what I wanted. I am going to see if the medical store will rent me the hospital bed tomorrow. I reached out to a friend who had the same surgery a few months ago. She was on her way to a Sixer game and said she will call me tomorrow. I need to pick her brain on what helped her get through this.

I wish everyone the relationship I have with my husband. It took us 10 years to get to this stage. For those of you in an arranged marriage (today's culture) -- it does work! You have to be able to let go and give to get back!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My last weekend before the big surgery. I have so much to do but I cannot be motivated to do anything. On top if it is my Birthday! I know I should be thrilled that I made to my 36th birthday because last year this time I felt doomed. My house was full of flowers as if it is was my funeral. I had my mastectomy two weeks before my birthday. So to make it today is a major mile stone but how ironic that I am preparing for another surgery 1 year later. AT least I do not feel like the world is over this year! Friday was my last day at work to prepare for the surgery. I am going to be out of work 8 - 12 weeks.

So a few good things happened this week

1. My six months tests showed up clean - so monitoring them for 1 full years, every 6 months show no new growth. No Cancer and my Heart function is getting stronger. The Chemo treatment I am on, weakens the heart. I was worried about it 3 months ago as the test keep showing the pumping of my heart kept going down. This last test showed that it actually went up by 3 points! The medical terms I learned this year is enough to put me through medical school!

2. I also release that I really need to re look at my career / family balance. I was so focused on my career that before Cancer that I aimed for the sky. When I got Diagnosed, I focused on me and my family and put my career on the back burner. Now that I might see a light at the end of this dark tunnel, I need to relook at where I need to be. I am not the stay at home type but I feel I need to make a difference in this terrible world!

3. The hospital called to tell me that my insurance is going to pick up most of the cost for the surgery. I am going to be responsible for 10% of the cost. Our lovely health system -- we have no clue what the cost the hospital / doctors will settle with the insurance company and that that means to me (except 10% of whatever they settle at). I do have to be grateful that unlike some countries, I will not be allowed to have this surgery unless I pay upfront before the surgery.

A few things on my to do list before I go under are: Get the house cleaned, stock up on ready to eat food, do domestic duties (clean kids clothes)! I still fear that I might not wake up, so I need to write some good bye notes for my family and kids. I must turn in Nina's add a Pearl necklace to the Jewelers. When she was born, I stated a Pearl Necklace -- for her every birthday, I add the numbers of Pearls to represent her age. I had planned to give it to her on her wedding day. I want to make sure that I turn that in as her Birthday is April 1s and I will not be able to drive for up to 4 weeks. For those of you who knows me -- that is going to kill me! I cannot stay home and watch TV all day!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

WOW, what a day today was at work. I cannot go into details about this but God is truly testing me in every way he knows how. You know that old saying about God only gives you what you can take and what does not break you will only make you stronger -- well that is bullshit! I was and am strong to begin with -- if I get any stronger I might be too full of myself. I guess what he is trying to teach me is patience, something I know I don't have.

Okay, the surgery is next Thursday and I am still scared but I know I will get through this as well. The Dr told me I will be in the hospital for 4 days and then not able to drive for up to three weeks with drains. I hate drains (these little juice like bombs that hang from you to collect all unwanted fluid from your wounds). Iqbal tries to help me drain them but I know he cannot stand the sight of blood. Moore (mom) and Hamid are very good at this. What would I do without them?

This weekend, I will have to buy this Wedge pillow everyone is talking about to make sure I can prop myself up when I get home from the hospital. I need to make sure there are plenty of snacks and easy to eat meals for the kids -- for those of you who has not had my son at their house, you should know for an 8 1/2 year old he is an eater. I cannot keep enough "American" food in the house for him. Hanna (nina) can live on bread if I let her. What a huge difference a boys and girls make.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Light at the end of the Road

What a year 2008 was for me! I have always thought I was lucky and had an angel watching over me. I was thankful for what I had -- Great husband, a job I like, healthy kids...bla,bla,bla. Boy did my life get tested with a small lump! For once in my life I felt I didn't know where I was or where I was going. My future was no longer safe.

Some how I made it through the chemo treatment, the loss of my hair, the extra wight that comes with chemo (like I need an excuse for all the gain weight). When you are five feet tall, gaining 1lb is enough to make you look like a gaining an extra 20 lbs on top of the "desk job" weight is enough to wear a mu-mu for the rest of your life.

People tell me I am strong for making through this -- I am not strong. I had no choice. I had two little kids I needed to worry about. I am not done with leaving my mark on the world! I still want to know why me?

Where I am today, I have two more Hercepton treatment to go and scheduled for a DIEP surgery with Dr. Serletti in two weeks. I am very scared -- but then again I get scared anytime I have to go under. I am also scared of the pain and depending on people after the surgery.

You ask what is a DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (artery). A type of surgery that takes my lower abdomen skin and fat (I do have a lot of this) and created my new Foobs. The main reason I decided on this was I did not want the DR to removes my stomach muscle. I know too much details. If you only knew the amount of pictures and website I visited to make sure I was doing the right thing.