Sacrifice and Recovery: The Miraculous story of Osama Shahzad

Osama Shahzad was one of the many children who grew up battling cancer at Shaukat Khanum Hospital. With the will of Allah, his life was saved through your Zakat, the efforts of hospital staff and the prayers and sacrifice of his family. And though every cancer recovery story is a miracle to us at IKCA and Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Osama’s story of sacrifice is even more miraculous still. Here is Osama’s story, in his own words

The phrase ‘Success comes with sacrifice’, has a deeper meaning for me and a more lasting impact on my personality than any other thing in my life. My name is Osama Shahzad, and I am a cancer survivor that faced blood cancer twice, and survived.

I am 20 years old now. I was diagnosed with Leukemia, when I was very young. It was at a hospital local to where we live, where I was undergoing treatment for typhoid. At that point, a senior doctor intervened and told my parents to take me to Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore. He said that, if his son was in such a condition, he would have taken him to Shaukat Khanum in the first instance. ‘It’s the best facility in town for cancer treatment,’ he told them. That was the beginning of my long relationship with the brick and soul of Shaukat Khanum Hospital.

The management and staff at Shaukat Khanum Hospital have done their level best to create an environment where a person’s focus does not remain fixed on their disease alone. This is important for recovery. I know this because I was a child that had to grow up in a hospital environment for the next three years of my life following my initial diagnosis. These three years were not even close to what a normal child faces in his early years of growth. Intense pain, extreme weakness and horrifying scenes become a permanent impression in my memory. Yet as I said, the staff and management did their utmost to keep my morale high.

At Shaukat Khanum, each patient is provided with different kinds of entertainment, geared towards their individually interests. Most of my recreational time was spent in the Play Area for kids. In addition to this, I was also given the best therapeutic care and education possible in a hospital environment, by well trained hospital staff. After three and a half years of chemotherapies and other medications, I recovered from Leukemia and started living a normal life again. But my turmoil was not over yet. I had returned home not knowing that my disease would return within three years.

I was living a healthy life again. I was back in school with my friends and was occasionally even permitted to play street cricket as well. Things were going smoothly, and I had even started to recover from the psychological scars of cancer. But then I started feeling a loss of stamina. This behavior changed into a permanent stiffening of my back muscles. It was clear that there was some serious problem with my health. When local doctors failed to identify the cause, my parents took me back to Shaukat Khanum Hospital. My bone marrow was tested and the tests confirmed that Leukemia had returned more aggressively.

An aggressive disease requires aggressive treatments. I was twelve years-old now and much more mature than I was during my first treatment; but my disease had also matured. The treatment included stronger doses of chemotherapy, and this took its toll on my weakened body. During treatment, there was a point when my parents had lost all hope of my recovery. By that time I had been in hospital for two years. There was a single hair left on my body. My skin had thinned and I had lost so much weight, my whole rib-cage was visible. I too had lost all hope of ever getting better, and that’s when my maternal grandfather came to hospital to visit me.

I was very close to my grandfather. It was he who had showed me life through his eyes and now it was time for the final lesson. He taught me how to defeat cancer. He told me that life is beautiful and I need to live it. And that the will to live is the key to defeating cancer. That night was the most comforting night I had during my entire treatment. The next morning my blood count started to rise and my blood oxygen stabilized. By evening, my condition was out of the danger zone and I was able to sustain without life supporting equipment. On the other hand my grandfather’s health had started to deteriorate.

Within the next three days I had almost recovered from all possible threats and had started taking my meals orally. I didn’t know at the time that Allah had granted my grandfather’s prayers, and had accepted his sacrifice in return for my life. My Grandfather passed away on the third day of my recovery.

I can never thank enough the management, doctors and staff of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, and all of the donors whose generosity and Zakat made my treatment possible. Their love and support helped me throughout the turbulent times of my life. But one sacrifice and one prayer above all is the reason why I am alive today.

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