Tag Archives: cancer

A Day to Remember

Second August is fast approaching. It was the day I took farewell from my husband. This year is the sixth, since he parted from my children, and I.

He was changing clothes, when I remarked blithely, “You look smart having a lovely flat stomach”.

Nola (daughter) had a dream when she was a little girl. She came to me with tears running down her face, and whispered to me as she looked at her father a bit fearfully, “He hasn’t changed, is he?”

“What do you mean?” I whispered back.

“In my dream I saw he isn’t my father. He is an alien really”.

Nola and her brother had been watching a series about aliens on tv in those days. She had a nightmare, so now she thought her father had turned into an alien. The children, and I were living away from my husband in Quetta, Baluchistan because of their studies. He would come for a day, or so to visit us, and then back to his duty in Larkana, Sind, where his brigade was stationed.

Thinking about a solution I told Nola, “Watch his stomach. If it’s still big, then he isn’t an alien”. Nola was reassured, and was all smiles for the day.

Coming back to the day in 2012 when I admired my husband’s stomach, he looked strangely at me for a few seconds, and then said, “Would you like it, if it was yours?”. I was embarrassed at my own stupidity, and felt tongue tied. His stomach had been removed because of stomach cancer, and those were his last days with us before he died.



My husband was a tea addict. Early morning ritual was a cup of tea while still in bed. I would make the tea, and bring it for him, and wake him up. He would have another two cups at breakfast, then another one at eleven. In between if guests came, he would take a cup, or two with them. There was no doubt about his love of tea. He would pour himself the last drops left in the teapot, or thermos. He would have tea again in the evening. If guests came — more tea. All that was black tea. At bedtime a cup of green tea would be needed.

He liked his tea — strong. We used to get Kenyan tea. R never liked tea made in the microwave. I would boil the tea till it was the right color he liked. The only good thing was that the tea was made with milk, and no water.

With all that tea made by me, I started liking it too. I would have two cups with my breakfast, and another one in the evening with him, when he would come back from playing golf. When I noticed my pearly whites getting stained with the strong tea I brewed, I switched to one cup of tea, and that too microwaved with only one tea bag.

Dear husband couldn’t do without his strong tea, and he remained addicted till he got stomach cancer. As his illness progressed, he tapered off tea. At the end he had to forsake that too. 



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A Time to Heal

WARNING: Please don’t read this if you are getting treatment for cancer.

My late husband R was lured by false hopes of cure from cancer to a hakim by one of his relatives. We had come back from KSA after my operation. I needed more time for recovery from surgery, but we didn’t stay as he needed his treatments for stomach cancer.

When R told my son, and I of his intention to visit the hakim, we did our best to dissuade him from doing so. I wasn’t a believer in hakim therapy, and R’s previous visits to such people bore testimony to this fact. The sad thing was R was at the stage where he was clutching at straws. It pains my heart about writing this.

Despite our pleading, he didn’t listen to us, and went to the hakim with his relative. On returning he took the medicine, and vomitting started. We took him to the cancer ward of the hospital. He was taken from there to the ICU of Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC). When his heart stabilized, he was moved back to the room at the the cancer unit where he was getting his treatment.

The day before his last day of life, I trimmed his beard, and hair. I changed his clothes after feeding him. He went to sleep, and he never woke up. The reason was the nurse forgot to give him his heart medicine for the last two days. Another was she gave him tablets for sleeping whereas he was in deep sleep, and his vomit went to the lungs.

At night when he wasn’t waking up, he was moved to Intensive Care. Sad to say the nurses, and the doctors there were inefficient too. He died of cardiac arrest at 11am. Prior to his death he was struggling to breathe. My children, and I made repeated visits to the doctor in charge to come and take a look. No one came. 

I believed he still would have a few more years with us, but it didn’t happen. 

I wish he had never gone to the hakim. It hastened his death. He thought he would get healed, but he didn’t know it will get him sooner to the grave.



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Pequonnock River

Yesterday I took a ferry to Port Jefferson, New York. My daughter dropped me at Bridgeport. My sister lives in Medford, Long Island. It took one and a half hour to reach Bridgeport from Hartford, Connecticut. Going by ferry is a lot cheaper than traveling by air. It saves hours too spent at airports.

A month ago my cousin F who lives in New Jersey had invited me for a family get together. It was to be held on 2nd September. Her sister’s daughter Sehr who lives in London had recently got married, was visiting. This was an occasion to meet the newly married couple. The last I had seen Sehr together with her mom D was in 2011 in Pindi, where my late husband was being treated for cancer.

I had to wait for my sister to come and fetch me from Port Jefferson. It was a long wait compounded with the fact she couldn’t find me. I was at the other side of the building where the passengers disembark, and she was trying to find me where the passengers were boarding a ferry. 

She suggested that I should walk on the broad walk (sidewalk along the side of water). I walked the never ending broad walk. I wish I had taken pictures of the boats cramming the water like sardines in a tin. At that minute all thoughts of taking pictures were forgotten. The sun beat down mercilessly on me as I lugged my bulging carry on behind me. It was a long way to go. Anyone who has been there must be knowing how long it is. At the end there was no sis. 

Perspiring, I felt like a melting jellyfish. I waited for her in the scorching sun to find me. Still no sis. I had to walk the entire way back. Thankfully she was there at last. 

Brookhaven, NY.




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My Cinderella Shoes

My husband R and I were living in an Army Mess at Rawalpindi. We had shifted there due to R’s bout with cancer. He needed to be near to CMH (Combined Military Hospital) to get chemotherapy. Staying in a hotel in the long run was an expensive issue, and R didn’t want to be 24 hours in CMH where he had a room in the Senior Officers Ward. 

Almost all his course mates rallied round him once it was known he was residing in Pindi. Many bought home cooked meals and soups when they came to visit with R. God bless them. 

To show how much he appreciated them, R wanted a party. We arranged for a dinner in the dinning room  of the Officers Mess. The only problem was with me not having party clothes or shoes. I had brought along with me (from Peshawar) few clothes, and hardly any shoes at all. I wasn’t expecting a party, and never thought that in the circumstances we were having I would be the one hosting one such event.

As soon as R had his chemo of the day, I went with our driver to the local market to look for shoes and clothes. None of the tailors I met with that day were ready to stitch me clothes in two days time. I came to the conclusion that I will have to forgo new clothes and will have to wear one of the washed (many a times) old one. 

I searched for shoes in some of the shops, but none were to my liking. Finally I spied what I wanted. It looked like glass shoes, but they looked beautiful. It had one drawback. The front of the shoes was decorated with gaudy material I didn’t like. Fortunately it could be removed. 

I still have those shoes in my wardrobe in Peshawer. It’s a reminder of a day in my life.




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A Terrible Time

I have written about it earlier in detail. I went through surgery for a prolapsed bladder in December 2006. Before that my condition was getting unmanageable for me. I came to the US for opinion. After the doctors probed into me, and my subsequent operation things went from bad to worse.

I went through six years of hell. I was in bad shape. Meanwhile my husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was simply purgatory looking after him and myself. 

In 2012 I was fortunate to have another operation by a Saudi doctor. I had my operation in May. Through Grace of God I am okay so far. Shukr Alhumulillah (thanks to God).

I can only say I have been through hell and back.

Postscript: today was a busy day and I had many appointments to go through, so I repeated a story again. I had no time to think.

Oct 29, 2015


Comedy of Errors (and bonus assignment!)

Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Write about a time everything did — fiction encouraged here, too!

Bonus assignment: do you keep a notebook next to your bed? Good. Tomorrow morning, jot down the first thought you have upon waking, whether or not it’s coherent.



I hope I never have those feelings again of utter helplessness. My (late) husband was being treated for cancer, and we had to be on time for hospital visits.

While rushing to the car, I badly twisted my left foot. I ignored the pain, and went on with the rest of the day so that I could look after my husband.

By the time we returned to our staying place it was 3.30 pm. My foot had trebled in size, and I was in excruciating pain. My poor husband insisted on accompanying me to the hospital. He was extremely weak by then, but he was worried about me.

My foot had a hairline fracture. After the hospital visit we went to shop for a walker. With the help of walker I managed goings to the bathroom. My sick husband couldn’t help me. I couldn’t accompany him for his treatments, and his condition worsened. 

All in all, it was a terrible time.

Daily Prompt: Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?


The Kindness of a Stranger

We had come to Islamabad from Peshawar for attending a marriage. Those were the good old days (2009), we didn’t know cancer cells were brewing inside R, and one day take his life.

We had never lived in Islamabad. We usually came (once every 5 years) for a visa, or like on this occasion for a marriage ceremony of a relative. For the night we had stayed at Frontier House near the Marriot. It was the day after the ceremony, and we were trying to find out a way to get out of the city, and head in the right direction for Peshawar.

The war on terror had messed our lives, and our cities. Each road was barricaded, and wherever we tried, we ended with no exit. It was frustrating, and as usual R’s patience graph was spiraling downwards rapidly.

There was another uncomfortable scenario. One of the car’s window had jammed, and it wouldn’t close. It was the month of June, and the sizzling heat outside was roasting us alive.

Whenever we faced this type of situation (where we didn’t know the way) R would hire a taxi, and it would guide us, to the right way out. Our luck wasn’t working, because a protest over rising prices of petrol was taking place, and there was no taxi in sight. 

We were wandering, when R stopped to ask a youngster on a bike. The boy donned his helmet, and guided us through the maze of blocked roads. It was due to that stranger’s kindness we found our way out.


The Kindness of Strangers

When was the last time a stranger did something particularly kind, generous, or selfless for you? Tell us what happened!

The Zone

Nowadays I zone out when I am reading a book.  I become a part of the make believe world, where I get to watch the scenes unfolding. I am moved to tears, or laugh at whatever turns take place. At times like those I would like to hang a “do not disturb” sign.

There was a time when I used to do needlework, creating something for my home, gardening, baking (still do), knitting, and so many other things.

The last ten years (count from 2012 backward) with my (late) husband’s heart surgery, and then subsequently cancer; and my own sickness left no time to pursue what I liked best.

I was like one soldier left in my husband’s army, standing at attention, despite my own sickness. There was no time to do things I liked to do. I was trying to cope with what fate dealt me.

Now I have time but don’t have the materials I need, or in case of gardening fear of ticks, and other insects. I have to cover my neck, face, and hands with insects repellent every time I go out. Any time I forget, I get bitten. Like today I got bitten on a finger joint. It was agonizing, and even aloevera gel couldn’t lessen the itchiness.

The Zone

Tell us about your favorite way to get lost in a simple activity — running, chopping vegetables, folding laundry, whatever. What’s it like when you’re in “the zone”?

Eating Turnips

Embrace the Ick
by Michelle W.
Think of something that truly repulses you. Hold that thought until your skin squirms. Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.


One vegetable I used to dislike was Turnip. Every time I laid my eyes on it, I felt like vomiting. I would think to myself, “how does one can bear to eat it?”.
It felt so repulsive.

Not anymore. We were posted to Bannu. My (late) husband R was out on military exercises, the cook with them made a veggie dish of turnips. When R was back home, he was full of praises. He asked me to call the cook, and learn from him. I did learn the recipe, and would often make it for R.

It’s strange, but my son-in-law FJ loves them too. When Nola (my daughter), and FJ were in Canton, Michigan FJ would often bring turnips home for me to cook. One thing I dreaded was peeling them. The turnips were like stones, and I had to wrestle with them to cut them into small size.

Turnips are so versatile. You can eat them raw in the form of salads, make a pickle, or eat them cooked as a veggie dish. You can cook the turnip leafs too. Finally the sprouts can be cooked too, and they have a unique flavor, all its own.


Turnips provide untold health benefits. They are full of Calcium, Vitamins A, K, and B Complex, anti oxidants, minerals, and dietary fibre. Turnips contains indoles, which reduces risks for lung, and colorectal cancer.

Turnip sprouts have high levels of glucosinolates (sulphur containing compounds) which are anti fungal, anti bacterial, and antiparisitic. Benefits from turnips are, that they decrease risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Yesterday, when I was talking to Nola, FJ let me know that he had bought turnips, and then the added missive, that when I will be visiting them he will buy them often, so that I can cook them. I could hear his chuckles. He knew it, that I may be gagging at the thought of it. I told Nola, “if I hear talks of turnips, that means no visit”.