It is impossible to avoid reflecting on my life with Uzma as I work on the book proposal for Left Boob Gone Rogue: My Life With Breast Cancer. Many years ago, my first and only proposal — not a book proposal — was when I asked Uzma to if she would marry me.
I was nervous. I couldn’t believe I was doing it. Not just popping the big question. But taking the risk to propose to a woman who was not just beautiful, smart and a go-getter, but whose national and faith background would make it an interesting journey should she say yes. Well, you’ all know what happened.
I am a complete novice about the book business and have never written a book proposal before. This should be an easier done than that long-ago proposal. Because Uzma is by my side. I am not writing this alone. The book is already done. In print. Writing the proposal is hard because it needs to include a sort of a competitive analysis of other cancer memoirs. I have avoided reading cancer memoirs since Uzma got diagnosed in 2013. I felt no emotional need to read them while bearing witness to Uzma’s cancer journey.
So I finally read a couple. I was right to not read them before. Yet, strange as it feels to say this while steeped in sorrow and in a puddle of tears — I feel lucky!
Artists and poets are better at expressing emotions because they are better at listening to the emotions that we hide behind our words, faces and body language. Uzma, an artist and a poet, from whom none of my emotions, whether good, bad, or ugly, were hidden, loved me for the rest of her life. I feel lucky!
Social media is intuitively blamed for many ills. It is blamed for increasing isolation. It takes keeping up with the Joneses to quite another level. Uzma showed me, from up close, how social media can be for a force for good, helping us build new relationships and strengthen old ones. I feel lucky!
It’s not easy to be a Pakistani woman marrying an Indian man. It’s even harder to be a Muslim woman and choose an interfaith marriage. Uzma ignored the imagined boundaries of nations and faiths and loved me for the rest of her life. I feel lucky!
Living with stage 4 cancer is a nerve-wracking experience. Yet Uzma showed us how to do with humor, grace, and gratitude. And I had a front-row seat to her show. I feel lucky!
At this moment in time, I don’t see how I will ever overcome the grief of her loss. She showed me how to love deeply even if it hurts. Such an incredibly smart, beautiful and loving woman accepted my proposal and chose me as the love of her life many years ago. Even in the depths of my sorrow, I feel lucky!
There are many challenges ahead. Raising resilient kids alone after such an ominous loss is the biggest one. But today, as I complete our — Uzma and mine — joint proposal and prepare to click ‘send,’ I feel lucky! And grateful. And hopeful.
Uzma Yunus, MD, the creator of this blog died on Jan 30, 2019. About three months before her death, she published her book Left Boob Gone Rogue: My Life With Breast Cancer, which as of this writing has 181 reviews on Amazon, each one of them a 5-star review. Her husband, Dheeraj Raina, MD, now maintains this blog