Thursday, May 12, 2011

This ugly thing called cancer.


(Reminder: This is a very long entry)

Today, I came across the third blog which the author has/had cancer. The first one was the late Wan Maisara Amira Aziz (better known as Sara Aziz); she died of lung cancer in 2008 at the age of 20 (Al-Fatihah). I read her blog after reading a tribute entry posted by dear friend NJ. She was a famous blogger and now if you searched for her in Google, her name is everywhere because many people posted a tribute entry for her. Even now if you visit her blog, people still drop comments on her shoutbox. People are just moved by how strong she was in fighting her illness. Second one is a lady who has breast cancer. I found her blog last year I think, but I didn't bookmark her and I can't recall her name. I hope she's doing okay. The third, she is a hijabi fashionista, one of the Scarflets. Seriously, by looking at her, the way she dress, the way she carry herself, her confidence, nobody could tell that she is suffering from an illness;she has AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia). These people, these bloggers to be exact, are truly inspirational. The way they deal with their illness, that strength, is one of a kind. Not many people can stand tall, and share their illness with the world. For that, they have my respect. 


This morning I had doubts about my PhD supervisors. Dr A is very responsive to my emails (important indicator that he makes a good supervisor) but his project is in infection of the large intestine. Dr B's project is in cancer immunology, something I'm really fond of, but then she is not as responsive as Dr A. I have already said 'yes' to Dr B, but I thought maybe I should change to Dr A, because I don't want to have communication problem during the course of my research. Then I found an article in the web, about choosing a good supervisor. The first thing it says,

 '"Choosing a supervisor is tricky because you don't know much about them until you start working with them," says Lewis Wolpert, professor of biology at University College London. "Instead, start by choosing a problem that interests you - it's easier to do and just as important." "It might sound obvious," says Jim Hough, director of the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow, "but it's amazing how many students don't do that." John Cowpe, a second-year PhD student from the University of Salford, agrees. "To get the most from your supervisor, you have to be interested in what they do."

Then I realized, I have made the right decision. At one point or another, I will encounter problems with my supervisor. We are both humans; we'll surely have disagreements, but the thing that will keep me going is the project that I have interest in. 

So why cancer, you ask?

There's a chain of event that lead me to be fond of studying this ugly thing called cancer. It started off with me finding a lump in my body. It was in 2008, when I was home during my summer break. One day I did my routine check-up and felt something was wrong. I didn't tell many people about this, only close friends, but not in detail. This would be the first time I'm sharing it with everyone. 

During my first year in college, I lived in the residence hall. There is this sorority Zeta Tau Alpha (ZETA), they pasted information about the check-up in every shower stall. So from that, I started doing a routine check-up while having my shower, for that whole year. Back to my summer break, so I did the check-up and found something. I told my mom but she said 'It's nothing'. I trusted my gut feeling that it was not 'nothing'. I went for a check-up at a nearby clinic, all by myself the next day. The doctor confirmed it, that she felt something was wrong, and she referred me to the general hospital. 

A doctor did a CT scan and for the first time I saw the lump on the screen. The doctor advised me with two options, either I do a biopsy (removal of cells or tissues for examination) or just remove it completely. She said I had nothing to worry about, as a lot of girls under 30 would develop this benign lump at some point of time. She said I could just do the biopsy. I didn't want to risk it, at that time it was just a month away from my flight back to Rochester. I didn't want to be carrying this thing around and pretend to feel okay about it. So I opted for complete removal. I had to wait for 2 weeks before there was an opening in the surgery slot. They admitted me to a daycare ward, had the operation in the morning and was discharge later in the evening. They sent the thing for a test, and results came up 2 months  later, confirming that it was just benign. Alhamdulillah.

You might think I'm exaggerating, as it was just a benign lump. But when I first found out about it, a lot of different things came to my mind. The thought of that could be cancerous was the scariest of all. Is it cancer? What should I do? What did I do wrong? Will I die?

A piece of advice: Girls, please do your own check-up, routinely. And to everyone, if you feel like something is wrong with your body, don't just keep it and say 'It's nothing'. Be attentive and be responsive to your body.

That was the first event in the chain.

Second event.

When I got back to Rochester for my second year, I took Cell Biology class. Towards the end of the syllabus, we learned about cancer. Given my experience that summer, I was very keen in learning the subject. That was when I knew I want to pursue my study in cancer related subject. Later that year, I joined Dr Bochiwe's research group, which studied about cell transformation-early onset of cancer. 

Third event.

Sometime before my summer break in 2009, I received a news that my auntie was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a devastating news, because she's like a mother to me. She named me when I was born, she was there when I had my minor surgery, she's pretty much my second mother. She was scheduled to have a major surgery to remove the cancerous cells in July, I was there with her. And Alhamdulillah, she is now cancer free.

Fourth event.

In December 2009, my research mentor (Dr Bochiwe) said she would take time off as she was going to California for some treatment. It was shocking to us, her research students because she never told us she had an illness, even though we kinda suspected because of a frame in her room; she was very chubby in that picture, but she was very skinny then. Sometime in January 2010, we received the news that she died, in California, from lung cancer.


These series of events that took place, really solidify my reason to study cancer. It feels wrong not to grab the chance to study this ugly thing, given everything that had happened. One day, if I felt unmotivated, got into an argument with my supervisor, or just so homesick that I feel like packing my bag and leave my study behind (God forbid), I shall remember these events, these people, to keep me going. 

I will constantly remind myself that I am making a difference, be it small or big, in the fight against this ugly thing called cancer.


anisizatyA.J said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

And you have my full support! :)

Adilah Rosli said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

awwwhh thanks annes! let's support each other when the hopes are fading.

Good luck with Peads! Don't stress stress Annes!

catt said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

u go dad died last year because of liver cancer..hope ur found in your research will benefit to others..

Adilah Rosli said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates


kak kauthar,

so sorry to hear that. InsyALLAH I will do my best to benefit others.

Erm, macamana boleh jumpa blog Dila ni? Hihi

catt said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

blogwalking mase keje..hehehe..xde lah..actually sj try google name dila yg slalu pkai dulu..then,kuar lar blog nie..huhuhu..