It’s a very simple fabric tote bag. Nothing fancy or designer,  a freebie that came with my cosmetic purchase. But I bought the cosmetics for the sake of this bag. On this bag, it says in pink alphabets, “Your best days are ahead”. I could not resist. I was about to lose my hair and was to start chemotherapy soon. I was nervous about my new look and did not know what to expect. So the cosmetics and the words convinced me, that I could still look beautiful. Perhaps it was an empty promise of a retailer but in dark times, even small hope is worth falling for.

That tote then became my “chemo bag”, a bag that would hold my lemon heads, my essential peppermint and lemon grass oils, my warm socks, a small copy of the Quran and a book that I was currently reading. Sometimes I would take some snacks or crackers along. I carried this bag, back and forth to the cancer center sixteen times, fifteen times with anticipatory nausea and anxiety but then I would read the words on it, “Your best days are ahead” and I would fall for the promise every time.

Doing sixteen rounds of chemotherapy for Stage 3 Breast cancer requires a lot of inspiration and motivation. Week after week, presenting yourself willingly to get infused and injected by drugs that make you deathly ill and not complain about it requires one to immerse herself into motivational and inspirational mode. Challenging but it felt doable; I habitually looked on social media for quotes and memes about life and difficult times. I bought inspirational books and collection of quotes. I would read and re-read quotes that connected with me emotionally and post them on my face book wall. These small doses of inspiration along with support of my friends got me through. Words do matter, they matter a lot and when everything else seems to be falling apart, holding on to a few strong words can help you conquer much more than you think you ever can.

Here is a list of my most favorite inspirational quotes:

1.      Life live as if it is rigged in your favor

2.      Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming.

3.      Stop watering the weeds in your life and start watering the flowers.

4.      Don’t believe all the things that you tell yourself late at night.

5.      Scars have the power to remind us that our past is real.

6.      Don’t think about what can happen in a month, don’t think about what can happen in a year, just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can do to be closer to where you want to be.

7.      You are a perishable item, live accordingly.

8.      Never be afraid to fall apart because it is an opportunity to rebuild you the way you have always wanted.

9.      Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.

10.   Today may suck but it doesn’t mean tomorrow will too.

11.   Feel the fear, do it anyways.

12.   No pressure, no diamond, no grit, no pearl

13.   Life is a balance of holding on and letting go

14.   Stay away from people who make you feel that you are hard to love

15.   To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.

16.   The thing about life is that while it disturbs us, it too, forces our hearts to roar in a way that is secretly fluid.

17.   When something goes wrong in life, just yell “plot twist” and move on.

18.   Life is a roller coaster; it has its ups and downs. But it’s your choice to scream or enjoy the ride.

19.   Disease is somatic, suffering from it is psychic.

20.   You don’t die if you fall in water; you die only if you don’t swim.


  1. Thank you for your encouraging words. I actually had my own list of quotes before starting chemo, and you’re right, they do lift up the spirit. At least they did for me. I had my good and bad days and I got something out of both.

  2. I love these! I wish I had them during chemo. I’m not a spiritual person at all but I noticed that you always carried the Quran with you. Was there anything in there that brought you comfort or power? I don’t know much about the Quran, I’ve never read it, so I’m very curious. I hope it’s ok that I ask.

  3. Thank you! I am so frustrated with having to undergo shoulder surgery at my age (I feel I am young) and these helped a lot. I worry about the quality of my life afterwards because I have already stopped doing so much because of the pain.

  4. Uzma you are brave and spiritual and inspire many. Koran pretty much says the same thing as your make-up-bag in many verses that “Everything will work out as long as one persevere and recommend the same to others and have faith” —Your best days are ahead!—-

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