All I knew about cancer was that people did not survive from it – Rizwana’s Story

All I knew about cancer was that people did not survive from it.

When Rizwana was diagnosed with cancer, her first thought was for her children. She was worried about what would happen to them, without her, because she believed it was only a matter of time for the disease to win.

“All I knew about cancer was that people did not survive from it,” she says, recalling those early days of fear and confusion. At IKCA, we know that this statement couldn’t be further from the truth, thanks to the ever rising success rates of cancer treatments. And yet, we also know that Rizwana’s fears weren’t unfounded. For Pakistan’s poor, who cannot afford cancer treatment, certain death is often a terrible reality. “It was my mother and my family, who stood by me and encouraged me to fight back. But when we realized we could not afford the treatment, we felt helpless.”

Rizwana’s husband, Mr. Javed, worked in a factory, at the time Rizwana fell seriously ill. She herself was a housewife and dedicated mother of two. The family could just about make ends meet from one month to the next, so Rizwana’s diagnosis came as a real blow. And the realisation that what he earned was not enough to save his wife was crushing for Mr. Javed.

The day they went to Shaukat Khanum Hospital, was a turning point for Rizwana. “I experienced hope for the first time since my diagnosis,” she says. “And I finally started to believe that this disease is curable.” Our doctors at Shaukat Khanum Hospital told Rizwana and her husband that her chances of recovery were high. To her family’s greater relief, they were also told that Rizwana qualified for free cancer treatment. It was the best news they’d heard in months.

“I am so thankful to the people who donate. It was because of their support that my treatment was possible.”

Rizwana’s treatment plan included eight sessions of chemotherapy, followed by surgery, and then a further fifteen sessions of radiotherapy. All of this was paid for by IKCA donors who sponsored her treatment. Today, Rizwana is proud to call herself a cancer survivor. She continues to take medication, prescribe by the oncologist, as part of her follow-up care at Shaukat Khanum Hospital.

“I feel lucky that my family was so supportive. But I have so many more people to thank: the doctors and nurses who cared for me and renewed my hope of survival; and the generous donors who paid to give me a fair chance of recovery. Without them, I probably wouldn’t be alive today. My children would have become orphans.”

Rizwana is now committed to raising awareness of cancer in Pakistan. And she’s always stressing the importance of an early diagnosis. “I am here sharing my experience with you, because if one person reads or hears my story and gets themselves or their loved ones to undergo a pre-emptive check-up, then my efforts won’t be in vain.”

“My life revolves around my kids and my family. It’s because of them that I had the strength to fight cancer. But maybe even this strength would not have been enough, if I hadn’t been able to get treatment. So to those who helped save my life, thank you.”

If you’re looking to donate to a Muslim charity, find out more about IKCA today. Or simply calculate Zakat and donate online.

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