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Final Farewell

Uzma was laid to rest on February 3, 2019 in ceremony attended by close and extended family, old friends, new friends, former coworkers and many people who had never met Uzma but only knew her through her writing. Everyone who loved Uzma, everyone who attended the services, and especially everyone who gave a eulogy made her final services serene and beautiful. Thank you.

Uzma was laid to rest following Muslim tradition because she was born a Muslim. However, she in her life and death she transcended all divides, whether of faith, creed or national origin.

The following text is from the concluding paragraphs of my prepared remarks for her eulogy:

“My Uzma wrote and through her writing touched many lives around the world. Her blog has been read by 300,000 readers in 170 countries. What draws people to her blog and now to her book is not just her simple, unpretentious way with words, but also the way the writing conveys her acceptance of uncertainty and fearlessness in the face of the death. When her cancer recurred and became stage 4, she knew that it would take her. She started to take more of life in, love more deeply, play with more abandon and give of herself more freely. When people reached out to her after reading her blog, she took time to speak to them and sometimes counsel and coach them as a friend. I knew this, but I didn’t know the extent of it until she died and people from around the country and around the world started messaging me saying how she had helped them through 1:1 interaction. And that tells me that she is no longer just mine. Through her writing my Uzma became your Uzma, our Uzma, the world’s Uzma.

David Eagleman, in the book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives says, “There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.” Uzma died 4 days ago. Today we consign her to her second death and mourn again. But I am confident that through her writing and by becoming the world’s Uzma, the third death will be a long time coming, perhaps even after most of us gathered here today are long gone. Therefore, I say, let’s continue to celebrate our Uzma after we have mourned her today.”

In Memoriam

Uzma Yunus, MD, the creator of this blog and my beloved wife of 17 years, breathed her last on Wednesday, January 30, 2019. She was laid to rest on February 3, 2019 at Memorial Park Cemetery following a wake and memorial service made beautiful by the love of friends, family members and many fans of her writing who attended.

Uzma wanted this blog to continue and had added me, her husband, Dheeraj Raina, MD as an admin/author. It will take some time to figure out how this blog will be continued. In the meantime, please order, read, review and recommend her book Left Boob Gone Rogue, published a couple of months ago and available on Amazon.

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“Left Boob Gone Rogue” the book

As I have said often, the only thing certain with cancer is uncertainity. . Last year, I was immersed in it. Different kind of challenges kept popping up , treatment and other wise.

I was being treated with Halaven ( Epirublin) which although kept me stable for 3 months, casued me severe neuropathy. I took a few falls and my balance was ruined. For a period of time I was using a walker and periodically used a wheel chair.

My blood sugars went completely out of sorts and they contributed even more to the lack of balance.

To top it all , I was running unexplained fever.

All of this started early June and did not abate until end of August completely. The Halaven stopped working and it was time to move on to another agent. This time it was Navelbine which I am currently on.

In between all this, the part of my skull that had been operated upon started to hurt. On MRI , they founf three spots in need of radiation. I went through five sessions of high intensity radiation during which chemotherapy was suspended.

Now I am back on chemo but my liver seems unhappy and I get pain from it off and on.

The challenges have been numerous but for now I am working hard to deliver my book “Left Boob Gone Rogue” in your hands this month. So stay tuned.

Also the blog has been update and will be up and running. Please leave in comments what you would like to hear about.

Much love,

Uzma

You are beautiful!

“You are as beautiful as you feel. It took me a long time to understand this.

Now through Cancer I still feel beautiful even though it has taken a lot in terms of physical beauty or what is considered as such in our culture.

Many times women feel ugly without their hair, eyebrows and lashes. But that is why we have wigs and fake lashes and brows.

They hide because they don’t feel desirable and feel no longer feminine.

Skin takes a hit during chemo, it stains dark sometimes and we may get a grey hue. Hands and feet can darken.

But there are ways to offset all of this.

I keep getting told how beautiful I am and I appreciate it.

But I work at it.

Here is my pic with no make up and no wig.

I am putting it out there because I am no longer afraid of what I look like, what matters is who I am!” Uzma Yunus

No make up no filter

Time

The life between scans continues.

Another trimester ended and scans are being done tomorrow.

It has been a busy three months full of living, experiences and family time.

Grief has been a companion as time approaches fourth month without my father in this mortal world.

Have been busy drawing and painting which has been therapeutic and healing.

Life remain perched on a house of cards and one bad scan can collapse this outfit but until then to me it seems a castle of hope.

Is Laughter truly the best medicine?

It was chemo day today. The whole routine which starts with anxiety the night before, mental agony of the week of side effects, lidocaine on the port, a stick , a blood draw and then wait for the results. A time span of starting at other bald women who have gone to different lengths to cover their baldness, of looking at husbands watching You Tube videos to keep themselves entertained, chatty girl friends and some anxious older women. Then finally you get seated in the chemo chair. Now its staring at others who are either getting chemo or will get it. You never know what you get this time, the nosy immigrant grandma who thinks its okay to ask your life story, the pleasant young professional or the weepy lady who is still not recovered from her diagnosis. Its as uncertain as cancer it self.

Among all this chaos and uncertainty, all a patient can rely on is care and comfort from the nursing staff and at the minimum, professionalism and understanding that this is the group of people whose lives are on hold or permanently wrecked by cancer.
This is a group of people who are trying to stay afloat in an unpredictable world filled with worries and fear. Empathy is desperately needed and emotional uplifting is very helpful.

Most patients after their pre-medications are dozing in and out of sleep. Some just want to close their eyes and some make small talk with others. Over all the set up is deserving of peace and quiet with an underpinning of hope and comfort.

I was sitting in my sub room with two other women as Halaven was dripping into my blood as I heard a loud piercing laughter. I noticed it to be one of the oncology nurses sitting barely three feet away at the laughing hysterically at the nursing station. It wasn’t just one loud laugh but a whole three minute laughter fest at a volume that would have pierced through a closed door.

I wondered about how other patients related to this lack of professionalism, since as a physician-patient it made my blood boil. How can such a thing occur in a patient care area? If I were the attending and had walked in at that moment, nothing short of a written complaint would have satisfied me.

I have great respect for nursing in general and especially oncology nurses who do a very difficult job. However certain lines must never be crossed and one for sure is unexplained loud laughter in patient care areas. Break rooms are perfect for staff to go and lighten the load that comes with their emotionally draining jobs.

Today for me, and I suspect for some other fifteen patients in that area, laughter wasn’t the best medicine but a rather toxic display of lack of empathy for all those who were receiving treatment.

Have you encountered unprofessional behavior from someone your oncology team? and if so, how did you feel and react?

 

Some more

Instead of laying with cold machines

All day

I wish I were home with my little girl and keeping her warm on her sick day

I wish this day were my own

Fully mine

But Cancer grabs these hours

That I am trying to gather

To put together the best I can

To make it a life, nurturing and full

A mom with cancer

A Metastatic wife

An unemployed doctor

A writer with lament

Cobble up the identities

In a string

Looking for a little hope

In radiographic scans

Every ninety days

Stop and go

Limping along

Asking gods to grant me

Some more

A little more

To us

A mom with cancer

A Metastatic wife…

Quick Advice

A little note for my mom colleagues:

Hi All,

I know many of you have weight loss as a goal. Good luck to each one of you.

Food can be addicting. If you are an over eater, remember you are filling emotional voids with food.a good diet plan involved ways to cope with stress so your therapist Inst in the fridge or the wine both stroked by guilt and feelings of overwhelm.

Weight loss isn’t a number but a sum of healthy life changes. It’s no easy feat but can be done. Adopt a change you can sustain long term. Pick activities you enjoy rather than the peer pressure thing to do. Wear a fit bit or a gadget to assess your sleep and level of activity. It’s hard to lose weight when sleep deprived.

We all DONOT drink enough water, eat enough fiber and make little home cooked Meals due to our schedules.these are all critical pieces of weight loss and adaptation of a healthier life style.

Invest in therapy if you need to , it’s not the same as chatting with a girlfriend periodically. It has goals and commitments. It’s a under untilized treatment and most think they can talk themselves out of therapy and anxiety pretty much like you can take out your own appendix.

We all have limitation , accept those, embrace your self for who you are.

The harder you are on you, the likely you are to run back to old ways.

Mom and Physician is a tough balancing act. We have to let go of some elements. We can’t do it all. Do try. It just kills you slowly inside and take away your own dreams. Hire help. Share. Take breaks and stay real.

Much love for 2018 Uzma Yunus