At the age of 25, Hiba found out that she had cancer. 2 years down the road, this is her letter to her old self
When you're 25, cancer will hit you like a slap in the face. You'd be left with a mix of emotions, a little bit like that feeling you get when you've gotten all the measurements and steps right while making a cake, but it still becomes a flop.
Everyone will tell you what to do, and it will take some time before you realize that the decision lies in your hands. Fret not, everyone has your best interest at heart and are as scared as you. You'll learn medical terms that you never thought you'd ever hear, and you'll do more research than you ever did in high school.
The whole family will worry, especially Mamah. She will never show it to you, but she will be your biggest pillar. She will pray for you every day and be there to watch over you when you can't fend for yourself. I believe that it's her prayers that give you that fighting spirit. I know chemotherapy sounds exciting, but truth be told, it isn't. However, you'll learn many of life lessons through this journey.
Your body will change and feel disconnected from you, but the people that really love you won't care about how you look. You'll learn that true friends and family will stick by you in your darkest times. On days that you feel like giving up, you'll learn to take things one day at a time. Having faith and saying prayers goes a long way in your journey.
You'd be surprised as well as to how much you are able to learn from a 1 year old. Your niece, Leilaa, understands more than you know, and will teach you that beauty comes from the heart. Also, when you're bald, your head will be her favourite play thing. Just indulge. It'll make your day to see her smile and use it as a crystal ball.
You will be in the best care imaginable. Your medical team will be like your family in the hospital. They will go above and beyond to make sure that you're comfortable so remember that a little kindness goes a long way. Your brother will make silly jokes as always and you'll wonder why he's super lame, but you'll love him even more for it. Your sisters will do their best to take care of you and dote on you like the baby sister that you are to them. You'll find that Kak Hudaa will never miss your chemo treatments, and may even take over your hospital bed once in a while.
There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize that nothing will be the same and time is divided into two parts: before this and after this. You won't be the same person you were before cancer. There will be many times when you will feel like giving up and when your body can't take it anymore, so reach out to your support system.
Cancer hurts the hearts of those watching from the sidelines, so get them involved to make them feel useful. I know you're still a Potter fan so this is the BEST time to harness all that geekiness. It will be your Patronus when the dementors are coming so go crazy, trust me ;)
I know what you're wondering - how am I supposed to find love like this? I won't give too much away, but someone will come along at the right time, at the right moment, and love you despite the changes that you're going through like gaining weight, losing your memory and having only one breast. He will love you in spite of seeing you at your lowest point. He will be equally as geeky as you and will make you laugh uncontrollably at his silly jokes. The fear of having your heart broken will linger in your mind, but he will give you reasons to love him more every day, not in what he says, but through what he does.
Cancer will be a roller coaster, but it will be the best obstacle that you will face. The woman that you will become resembles that of a warrior - beautiful and strong, and you'll use your experience to help others going through cancer too. The scars that you have are basically tattoos with better stories. Life works in very funny ways, and it works out in the ways that we least expect. I could say that from where I’m standing, life couldn't get any better than this! God never gives anyone a challenge that they cannot face, and you can definitely kick cancer in the nuts! After all, cancer will only be a chapter in your life, not the whole story :)
See you on the other side!
Your future, stronger, more beautiful self. Scars and all <3
P.S: You'll look HOT when you're bald ;)
Hiba is a 28-years old, KL raised girl, and is the youngest out of 5 siblings. In February 2015, at the age of 25, Hiba started bleeding from her nipple. Prior to this, she had had a lump in her breast that went misdiagnosed for 4 years. This is her journey with cancer.
“A referral to a breast surgeon showed that I had malignant calcifications on my left breast, multiple tumours and my lymph nodes were swollen. When my surgeon broke the news to me, at that point in time all I could think about was my mom and how she was feeling. My father had passed a month prior to my diagnosis, so I wanted to stay strong for her. I wanted to focus on moving forward so I told my surgeon to lay it all out for me without missing an ounce of detail.
When you're 25, cancer will hit you like a slap in the face.
Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy were definitely on the table. A CT scan and a second opinion later, I was officially diagnosed with Grade 2, Stage 2 Breast Cancer and I chose to do neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (chemo before surgery). I was actually excited to go through chemo! See? Still a little queer even in my 20s.
I guess the curiosity of seeing what it would feel like and wanting to know how myself and the cancer would react to it, fuelled my determination to get things going as fast as possible. Mid-way through my treatment, my results had changed and I had to get additional treatment after radiation therapy called Herceptin. It took me almost 2 years to complete my treatment and I’m happy to say that I have passed all my follow-ups to date with flying colours!”
Hiba is now working with the National Cancer Society of Malaysia. She is an avid Harry Potter geek and keeps a hedgehog as a pet. In her own words, “Some might say that my interests are a little queer, but it's queer people like us that make the world a little more interesting ;)” Her hobbies have changed over the years. Currently, she loves to bake and has recently started taking better care of her health by doing yoga, running and going for dance classes. She has also signed up for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2018 to raise funds for NCSM.
Hiba shares her journey on her website http://babatheawesome.com