Waqas Khan: I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 14.

“My dream was to complete my studies and I’m very close to realising it.”

“I was 14 when I developed severe body aches, bleeding gums, and frequent nose bleeds. At first I found lots of excuses for ignoring my symptoms, but by July 1999 my condition had gotten worse to the point that I could no longer attend school summer camp in my home town of Mardan. My aunt, who is a doctor, heard about my condition and recommended some tests. I was not told the results but she advised my family to take me to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore. My father, who has a nervous condition, sent me there with my uncle.”

“When we got to Lahore I found out the hospital treated cancer patients. But I didn’t have cancer, I thought. Did I? When I asked my uncle, he avoided my question, and that’s when I knew. I don’t know if it was the shock of the revelation or just my deteriorating health that caused me to faint right there at the Hospital soon after my examination. I woke up on a stretcher. I was being taken for a bone marrow biopsy, which was required to confirm the disease. I can never forget those moments on the stretcher, feeling helpless, with tears trickling down my cheeks. I kept thinking I was just 14. It was too soon for me to die.”

“When the tests were completed we went to see Dr Adeeba Quddus. She explained that I had A. L. L. (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) which is a kind of blood cancer. I felt weak, powerless, and I could not hold back the tears. But, Dr Adeeba’s kindness and support were endless.”

“Treatment started immediately. I was determined to face cancer as the biggest challenge of my life. I wanted to live and I wanted to complete my education. The treatment lasted for 3½ years. I was given chemotherapy and the side effects were the most difficult part. At first I was not comfortable about losing my hair but I was told it would grow back very soon.”

“Now I am a final year student in the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar. My dream was to complete my studies and I’m very close to realising it. I owe it all to God and to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.”

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