During my childhood cancer was not something people I knew died of; it was not even a disease that was prevalent as it is today, and was mentioned only in very rare whispers amongst the adults.
Many people reading this may have lost a loved one, friend or acquaintance to one of the many cancers that mankind seems to be susceptible to in the modern age. As a species it appears that we are being corroded from the inside; as if our bodies are rebelling against whatever poisons we are subjecting it to.
From the beginning of October I have been bombarded with Breast Cancer awareness reminders on every social media platform, every magazine in print or online and every newspaper, in print and online. And I wonder, how many people are still bothering to read it and how many even care?
Has it become just another way to make money by commercializing an often fatal disease? Do these awareness efforts make any difference and do they have any impact on the lives of those afflicted and battling any of the cancers?
In my opinion, if even one woman is persuaded to perform a breast self examination or have a mammogram, it is a success. If even one cancer sufferer is given support that helps them cope with a cancer diagnosis and the anxiety and possible depression it can cause, then it is a success. If even one cancer survivor receives the emotional support, attention and love to overcome the uncertainty, fear and trauma that accompanies months of treatment, then it is a success.
A few weeks ago I learned that the mother of a dear friend had been diagnosed with cancer. At the time it came as such a shock that I felt almost powerless to compose a suitable response (bursting into tears was not a suitable response). How do you console a loved one who faces the loss of their nearest and dearest when you know that mere words will offer no comfort? All I can do now is offer supplications for her and pray that when the time comes, that Allah will make it easy for her family to overcome her loss.
Earlier this year one of my mother’s closest friends succumbed to breast cancer after months of treatment. Aunty Medie (may Allah have mercy on her soul and grant her the highest paradise) was one of the sweetest and most generous people I know. It pained me to see her grow weaker and thinner as the cancer metastasized and ravaged her body. She never faltered in her faith however, and was content with whatever health challenge and difficulty she faced.
As Muslims we believe that when something good happens to us then we are thankful for it (and that is good for us), and when something bad happens to us, we bear it with patience (and that is good for us).
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no calamity that befalls a Muslim but Allah expiates (sin) thereby, even a thorn that pricks him.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5640; Muslim, 2572.
Early on, during my own battle with rheumatoid arthritis, that was the translation of the hadith I printed and stuck to the wall in my office right across from my desk. Not a day passed that I was not reminded of it, and it served as one of the many aspects of faith that brought comfort, relief and ease through years of excruciating physical pain, Alhamdulillah.
And I was reminded of it when I visited Aunty Medie in hospital. Her once tall frame had become so tiny and fragile that I was afraid touching her would cause her to shatter. Her face covered with an oxygen mask, I saw her struggle to speak to the family and friends who had come to visit her that night, as she gasped for air. I stood there watching her while my throat tightened with unspoken words and my eyes burned with unshed tears.
At that moment I remembered a phrase spoken often by a dear friend during his toddler’s fatal battle with childhood brain cancer: ‘Alhamdulillah, always and for everything.’ May Allah reunite little Abd al Rahman with his family in the highest paradise. Those words spoken by my friend have been etched in my mind ever since, and have brought contentment with whatever Allah has decreed for me.
If you know someone suffering with breast cancer, or any life threatening disease… take a few minutes to extend a helping hand or be their shoulder to cry on. If that is not possible, then keep them in your thoughts, prayers and supplications. And for their families, I pray that they are able to cope with the demands of being caregivers and tend to their loved ones with kindness and patience.
For this month’s Blogger’s Monthly Fiesta challenge we have decided on a pink theme as another reminder that it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I wish to celebrate the lives of my loved ones who have passed from various types of cancers and dedicate my recipe to Aunty Medie, Mummy Rachel, Uncle Fuad and Uncle Pat.
I have created Rose cupcakes with white chocolate ganache in their honour and when you try this recipe in your own kitchen, I pray that you remember all those whom we have lost and supplicate for all those who are still battling illness and disease in shaa ALLAH.