“We can’t direct the wind, but we can direct the sails.”
Assia was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2017. She is 20-year-old cancer patient hoping to raise awareness and inspire hope into the hearts of those also fighting cancer.
“The story of my diagnosis is a strange one. I was lying on my bed during the summer of 2016 when I noticed that there was some hyperpigmentation on my stomach. I did not pay much attention to it and after showing it to my mum, we thought it was probably just normal considering my skin tone.
Fast forward a few months later and we noticed that it had spread all over my back and thighs. I visited the doctors, where I had a blood test. The results showed nothing alarming and so I assumed nothing was wrong with me. However, the pigmentation spread further and by the beginning of 2017 I had noticed that I was constantly exhausted, I lost my breath easily and quickly, I was waking up every morning with severe muscle cramps. Sometimes the muscle cramps in my legs were so severe that it hurt to walk.
After seeing several doctors I was referred to a dermatologist at the hospital. On the day of my skin biopsy, I had a blood test which revealed some abnormalities. I was referred to a haematologist. A month later I had a bone marrow biopsy and two weeks later I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. It was unexpected for everyone around me, however, for some reason, I had sensed that it was coming.”
“My journey has been a tough one. It has been a rollercoaster ride and completely unpredictable. I have grown closer to a lot of people in my life, I have had extravasations, two PICC lines inserted and later removed due to blood clots, a Hickman line insertion, I have lost my ability to walk and gained it again, I have had several allergic reactions to chemotherapy drugs which almost killed me, I lost my hair, my face quadrupled in size and I have vomited quite a lot.
However, it is a journey I am grateful for as it made me a different person. I now live with purpose, I go to sleep looking forward to another day and I spend a lot more time with those whom I love. If I was, to sum up, my cancer journey in a few words I would say: frightening, excruciating, but filled with love and support.”
Motivation to fight cancer
“My biggest motivation is my faith. I am a Muslim and God reminds us to be patient and to have faith in times of difficulty. There are people in my life that I don’t want to leave and they also gave me a lot of strength.”
“My biggest hindrances were the lack of emotional intelligence from those around me, which made me feel very isolated and alone at times. I mean, I don’t expect people to understand what I am going through and I understand that it is almost impossible to do so, however, I would like for people to be careful with their words and to remember that I am not like them nor are they like me.”
Message to other cancer patients
“Have hope, hope goes a long way. I know that you may feel weak, you may cry yourself to sleep some nights, you may feel like a burden on your family at times. However, you have control over how you react. Live in the present. Go out in the fresh air. Read a book. Clear your mind. Allow yourself to FEEL and be real with yourself. Give your body a break. But have hope that this will pass and that you are strong enough for this. You are powerful and you have got this.”
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