Anam’s Greatest Achievement

Anam was raised to become a high achiever. At age 24, she holds a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology, and is recently married. But beating cancer is an achievement she has Shaukat Khanum Hospital to thank for.

When she was little, it was just Anam and her mum. Growing up in challenging circumstances, she saw first-hand the difficulties her mother faced as a single woman raising a daughter all on her own. But she never gave up. Through thick and thin, mother and daughter stood strong. Her mother’s resilience and determination became Anams. She believed that with hard work and study there was nothing she couldn’t achieve.

By age 21, Anam’s achievements in education were impressive to say the least. She was about to enrol for her Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology, and it seemed as though nothing could stop her progress to a successful career. But then cancer happened.

It was nearing the end of 2018 when Anam started suffering from chronic fatigue, prolonged fever and a painful swelling in her lymph nodes. In search of a diagnoses she consulted several doctors and went to many hospitals, but she only got mixed answers. Some said it was tuberculosis. Others told her to ignore the symptoms altogether. After grappling with a misdiagnosed illness for over a year, Anam took one doctor’s advice and went to get a biopsy done. The result was a shock.

Anam tried to be brave when she was first told she had cancer. But then she found out about the hefty cost of cancer treatment, and saw the suffering of cancer patients at one hospital’s intimidating chemotherapy ward. The devastation set in. Anam broke down in tears. How could she, a student, and her mum, a single mother, afford her treatment?

As a final resort, Anam’s mum insisted they travel to Lahore, to visit Shaukat Khanum Hospital. When they arrived Anam seemed to have lost all hope. For the first time in her life she was facing a challenge she could not overcome through hard work and study, because she simply did not have the financial nor physical means. So when our doctors told Anam she would receive treatment, irrespective of her ability to pay for it, she was overcome with relief. After months of uncertainty and hopelessness, the Mother-daughter duo wept tears of joy.

Anam’s treatment plan included six cycles of chemotherapy, but she was not afraid. Far from intimidating, the chemotherapy bay at Shaukat Khanum Hospital turned out to be a place where human kindness trumped fear. Anam was especially moved by the fact that she was receiving treatment at the same facilities as paying patients, and that the healthcare staff treated every patient with compassion and care irrespective of their financial status.

Anam underwent chemotherapy from January to July 2020. Throughout this period, she continued her studies, despite the difficult side effects of chemo. She’d bring a book to read to her sessions, which helped to get her mind off the some of the painful procedures she had to endure. After her sixth chemo cycle, Anam underwent a scan which revealed that she no longer had cancer. It felt like the best day of her life.

Today, Anam is 24 years old and she holds a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology. She was recently married and is currently preparing for her Civil Service Exams. Healthy, confident and full of optimism, Anam’s experience with cancer has taught her that she must make every moment of her life count. And she remembers the plight of the patients she met at Shaukat Khanum Hospital during her treatment, most of whom were in a more difficult situation than she. Anam’s wish for the future is no longer only for her own success. She prays that Allah gives her the financial means to support the building of a cancer hospital that treats poor patients for free in Toba Tek Singh, her hometown.

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