The Ups and Downs of Chemotherapy

My third chemo and subsequent blood transfusion the following day took its toll on me.  Unfortunately, I experienced all the side effects of chemo, all at the same time, and felt like a cancer patient for the first time.  The symptoms included extreme fatigue which necessitated me to be in bed for three days, fever, constipation (resulting in hemorrhoids – ouch), mouth sores which made it difficult to eat and talk, zero appetite and change in taste.  The extreme fatigue was probably the most daunting and debilitating.

On those days, just the thought of getting out of bed, changing into clothes, brushing my teeth and going downstairs for breakfast tired me out.  I just wanted to hide under the covers and sleep all day.  I was in the land of the living dead, like a zombie, not available to anyone.  My family had to deal with seeing me quite helpless, weak and unresponsive f or the first time in three months and I think that was difficult for them and for me.   Just as it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, things slowly started to get better as the days went on.

Then, I got some incredible news from my oncologist, Dr. Tiedemann, yesterday.  The latest blood tests showed that my serum M-Protein levels had been reduced significantly (by more than 50% from baseline — which is considered a Partial Response).  In layperson’s terms, this means that, miraculously, the chemo treatments for my Lymphoma are also attacking my Multiple Myeloma cancer cells!  This was completely unexpected news for us and we are beyond thrilled at yet another blessing from God.

What I am learning is that every chemo treatment has a cumulative effect — requiring longer and longer for the healthy cells to rebuild.  Chemo targets and kills rapidly dividing cells in the body, such as cancer cells.  But there are normal cells in the body that are also rapidly dividing, and chemo attacks these good cells as well.  Each dose of chemo kills only a percentage of cancer cells; therefore, multiple treatments are required to destroy as many cancer cells as possible.  So I can expect to go through the same pattern for subsequent chemo treatments.  Except this time, I will be more prepared and manage this better.

So, Mr. Chemotherapy, sir, I welcome you with all your ups and downs, even though you sometimes make me really sick.  I accept you, and thank you for all the hard work you are doing to get rid of both my cancers.  And, I look forward to our next meeting on Monday, May 14th.

I say to you:  “Bring it on!”

58 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Chemotherapy”

  1. My friend,
    There hasn’t been a day which has passed that I haven’t prayed for you in morning JK…and I’ll continue praying 🙂

    Get well soon, my friend.

    -Zul Hirji

  2. Hi Munira Mukhianima
    I’ve been following the blog posts and just found out that you have been in hospital. I hope you are getting stronger and stronger and will be out soon. Please when you get back home and are ready for a visit, I am waiting to make my Mango Delite to bring over. Would you please ask the kids or Nagib Mukhisaheb to give me a call or email me and I’ll be over in a jiffy. I have really had the urge recently to see you.
    Sending you lots of prayers, love, hugs and kisses (virtually) until we meet physically.

    Dilshad

  3. Dearest Munira…I just got word that you are fighting…I would be lying if I said I wasn’t upset. I am not sure what to say but I do know what I would like to do…could I have the honour of accompanying you (taking you :)) to where you need to go? I would be happy to be your chauffeur and companion any day you choose and we could go anywhere you wish! Be it to the hospital for a treatment or the zoo or even the beach with a picnic – anywhere you feel like.
    You really made me feel special and I would like to pay it forward. I would have no problem taking any day off anytime so please…may I? Also I would enjoy making you laugh and taking your mind elsewhere. Let me know when and what time and where and I will be there! Don’t forget I was an RN so you will be in good hands.

    VFC class of 2006-7 🙂

    1. Dearest, dearest Lynn. What a heartfelt note you wrote. I am so touched and humbled. This has been a tough week for me. I have been in the hospital for the past 8 days and hope to be released tomorrow. The cancers really came from left field and I have accepted it and am finding lots of learning from it. I promise to be in touch with you when I am better and take you up on your offer. Hope all is great with you! Munira

      1. Thanks Munira – I will be following your progress and hope to hear from you soon.

        Cheers and God Bless

        Lynn

  4. Munira – wonderful news about the unexpected, positive side effects. I am thrilled to hear this! And I love how you still manage to have fashion sense during your chemo (with the matching hat and shirt)! I miss you and wish you many more positive surprises : )

  5. Wow Munira, I am so happy those chemicals are doing what they are supposed to do and more! Your positive attitude to welcome them in so they can do their job is a great assist. Your fans out here are pulling for you with love and admiration. Thank you for continuing to write and to touch us all. Love BJ

  6. May Allah always continue to bless you with strength and courage to conquer every challenge! Your positive attitude already makes you a survivor 😉

  7. Hi Nagib & Munira ,
    I saw this lovely couple today, they were embracing each other with so much love in the air , waiting patiently in the waiting room
    before treatment. Oh that’s you and nagib !!!!
    This love and support is the key to recovery and
    healing, it is a great pleasure to have met you and your husband and I always enjoy the feel of love and strength that is surrounding the two of you.
    God bless
    Manny

    1. Hey you Manny! So I came to the hospital setting intention that I would have you as my nurse today. Then Nagib and i saw you in the yellow zone completely by accident. When you waved at us,I told Nagib that we needed to get to the yellow chemo zone so we could at least see you. Lo and behold we got assigned to the yellow zone and somehow you start taking care of me. Who said intentions don’t work? Who said there are no coincidences? Munira

  8. Happy Happy Happy Happy Mother’s Day! May you celebrate lots of Mother’s Day with your children & Grandchildren! Sending you Love,love,love,Special special special prayers for healing & strength!.

    Love you Always,

    Rashida

  9. Happy Mother’s Day, Munira. And happy belated anniversary! I’m glad that you are seeing such good results – it helps give you strength to continue with the effective treatments. From Patti Kurgan.

    1. Hi Patti. I tolerated the chemo really well. Also needed to have a blood transfusion. Feeling so good today – I think part of the reason is that I am on a 100mg of prednisone which helps to kill the cancer but also makes me incredibly hyper, active and strong. And then I will be off the prednisone in 3 more days and my body will go through complete withdrawal and shutdown. I am learning to live in both realities; taking advantage of the energy when I have it, and resting when I need to. Right now I am just focusing on making it through the next 2 chemos…..Munira

  10. Dear Muni,

    You are truly an inspiration! Karim and I wish you a very happy mother’s day, we hope you get spoiled and pampered! Mowla bless you with continued courage and strength, may He bless with peace and happiness, may you always have a smile on your face and love in your heart.

    Love,

    Nimet and Karim
    xoxoxo

  11. Way to go Mr. Chemo. Whip both those cancers butts. You won’t keep my friend down for long.

  12. Munira,

    I know there are both positive & negative effects but looking forward for another chemo proves that you are positive about it. It is going to work out as your extended family’s prayers are with you & prayers have amazing strength.

    Give us a call at any time if you need & we can be at your place for help

    Regards from Aarti

    Sunil, Aarti & Vidhi

    1. Arti has been instrumental in my recovery. Her incredible capability in acupressure heals me and gives me the energy to go through my treatment. I am convinced that her work with me on a regular basis is what is enabling me to go through this difficult time with ease. God’s hands are on Arti when she treats me and her other patients, Munira

  13. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to stay alongside you, through your blog, on this journey. I hope that you feel all of us alongside you as well each and every day, supporting & cheering you on every step of the way. You are amazing. I think of you often and send my prayers your way knowing that your strength, determination and positive energy will serve you well throughout this roller coaster ride.

    1. Hello Kathy Thom! I have been thinking about you and will send you an email tomorrow. I went for my fourth chemo today and has a blood transfusion to boost. So I am 66% through chemo for the lymphoma. Yeah! Thank you for your support, your cheer and especially your prayers. Munira

  14. I looked at your picture, it made me cry and smile and appreciate life, Mukhianimaa
    I love you , and pray for your mushkilasan
    your smile is genuine !you are smiling because you believe in yourself and love us all
    thank you for giving us so much awareness and we sincerely pray for you and your family

    dont make yur mom work too hard (just kidding!!)
    HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO YOU AND YOUR MOM

    Salome

  15. Your Strength and positive thinking is what we all need!!! GOD Bless and we pray for you.

    My wife still going through the breast cancer Chemo treaments

    We heard Yunzhi mushroom extract is good for Chemo side-effects

    praise GOD and your amazing WILL!

    1. Yes, I continue to keep your wife in my prayers everyday for her speedy and complete recovery. Cancer very much becomes a family illness. Sometimes i think the impact on the family, particularly the spouse, is more difficult than for the person going through the illness. I am so proud of you for supporting her through this time. Munira

  16. Dear Munira Mukhianima,
    I have been following your blogs too….”you are an amazing woman”…keep up the strength…my warm prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. I’ll be thinking of you on mother’s day and sending prayers your way.
    Rashida

    1. Thanks Rashida! I had a great Mothers Day and felt really special. I really thank you for your warm prayers and for thinking of our family during this time. Love, Munira

  17. Ya Ali Madad Mukhianima, You are awesome because you have the strength of the light in you and as Hazar Imam has said ‘The light that lights the heart is the light of God’. Our prayers are with you and Mukhisaheb.

    Regards, Nazir

    1. I had not heard this quote from Hazar Imam before. Thank you for sharing. I feel your prayers for our family. And today I am feeling particularly strong and blessed. Munira

  18. Dear Mukhiani Ma:
    I am so proud of you – Good souls like yourself are God’s gift to people. I have no doubt that wherever you are Universe is showering blessings on you.

    May Mowla shower all the blessing of health, joy and peace. With love and light – Noorjehan

    1. Hi Sebastian! Great to keep connected with you via the blog! I am feeling really good today after the chemo and blood transfusion today. I might stop by work this week. It would be great to see you and everyone else! Munira

  19. Dear Mukhranima,

    There is this saying that when you are thinking about someone and they somehow get in touch with you at that very moment, that they are going to have a long life. Last night, a song came on that made me think about you. I decided to email you first thing in the morning to make sure you are doing okay since you have not posted in a while. As I groggily grabbed a cup of chai, and headed to my computer I was thrilled to see I WILL SURVIVE in my inbox. You are going to have a long life.

    To say that I am glad to hear you are doing well is an understatement because it is more than that. It is actually my soul that rejoices and rejuvenates when I hear from you. You are such an inspiration. While you are taking on one of the biggest challenges of your life, you are uplifting countless people through your wisdom and optimism. I am one of those people. Last night I drove home crying. I was terrified that my best friend’s dad was dying after ten years of deteriorating health from a stroke. In that moment your song came on and I knew it was a reminder from God that everything was going to be okay. We don’t always understand God’s decisions but we need to have faith that He will take care of us and our loved ones. Every thing that comes into life is a blessing in hindsight. For some of us, we have the spiritual sight to recognize blessings in the moment, I think you are one of those people.

    I want you to know that I am constantly praying for you and thinking about you.

    Sincerely,

    Fatima (Sabrina’s friend from McMaster, the one in Chicago 🙂 )

    P.S. Your song is “Stacey’s Mom” (..Stacey’s Mom has got it going on…We decided to dedicate the song to you after your insightful raindrops session. We replace Stacey with Sabrina…Sabrina’s mom has got it going on…. We haven’t really figured out anything beyond the chorus yet =P )

    1. So great to hear from you Fatima! I haven’t seen you since you went back to Chicago after university. What have you been up to? Would love to hear about what’s happening in your life. So I am really intrigued by this this song. And on days when things are not going so well, I will remember the chorus that “I’ve got it going on” and use that to cheer myself on! Keep writing ok? Munira

  20. Mukhiani Ma! YAM!

    I am so pleased to know that some of your results are positive, inshallah all will get better in no time, I wish you the best for May 14th I will continue my salwats for you. You are such a beautiful soul inside out. Yes!! and no Chemo is going to get you down! Lots of love and prayers for you BTW Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  21. Ya Ali Madad Mukhiani Saheba Minura
    You are an amazing woman. I have been following your blog for a while and I find it truly inspirational. You have such strength in adversity that only few can achieve that. Our prayers are with you and the family. May you have all your mushkil asan and may the Almighty ease all your difficulties.
    With Lots of Love and Prayers,
    Azeem

    1. Ya Ali Azeem. You know it’s amazing but when I look past the adversity and think of the blessings in my life, it just puts everything in perspective. And I am feeling very blessed. Munira

  22. DEAREST MUNI,
    WE ARE SO GLAD TO HEAR THAT THE TREATMENTS ARE TAKING EFFECT AND THAT THE M PROTEIN LEVELS ARE GOOD TOO- WE PRAY TO GIVE YOU HEALTH AND WE ARE CONFIDENT THAT YOU WILL LICK THIS BIG “C” RIGHT BACK WHENCE IT MAY CAME FROM -WE ARE SO HAPPY TO SEE YOUR SMILING FACE AND MAY YOU SMILE ALWAYS -YOU ARE A FIGHTER AND ALWAYS WILL BE AND YOU ARE ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS AND THOUGHTS AND WE ARE WITH YOU ALL THE WAY- YOU GO GIRL.

    IMMI,RUBINA,AZMAIRA AND FARIZAH HIRANI IN CALGARY

    1. Hi Immi. Thx so much for your phone message and posts. I feel your support and encouragement and need that very much in my life right now. Went for chemo and blood transfusion today and am feeling really strong! Muni

  23. Dear Munira,
    A quick message to give you some ideas that helped me during chemo. I was taking a medication called pantoloc (not sure written the right way) to protect my stomach not only the day of the treatment but during all the process + a lot of acupuncture. Constipation same thing you need to start taking some product few days before the treatment to make sure you will feel better. Mouth sore, the hospital pharmacist gave me a mouth rince with some antibiotic in it. The best thing I did was talking to onco pharmacist at the hospital and they make sure to reduce as much as possible the side effects.
    It is true that having multiple treatments make it more difficult but that means also you are getting closer to the end.
    I am so happy about your results.
    Thinking of you every day.
    God speed dear Munira.

    1. Thanks Pasquale. I’ve got it covered. And with my white cells high right now most of my problems have disappeared for now. I am sure they will reappear as expected. But i will be so much more equipped to deal with it. Love the mouth rinse. Munira

  24. I just press “sent” on an e-mail to you and your blog just poped!
    Happy to see that the treament is working!

  25. YAM Munira. After reading your last blog, all I can say is, “You are just incredible!”
    What a brave way to look at the situation. My prayers are with you everyday to give you and your family the strength to come through this together. Love, Parin

  26. Murnira,

    I so sorry you’re not feeling your best but that’s FANTASTIC news regarding the M-Protein levels!!!!

    Caroline

  27. Amazing Mukhiani Munira how you are tackling this. You tell that chemo to “bring it on” cause this is one chick it can’t mess with!!!!
    BTW you look awesome in the blue cap. It really is your colour and your smile is as beautiful as always. I think it’s time for another dose of the Mango Delite!!!

    Will see you soon,
    D

  28. Munira, I’ve been reading this blog diligently and going over each post several times. Your strength and determination are just purely and utterly inspiring. The honesty and sincerity with which you face such a daunting challenge serve as a reminder to the rest of us of what we are capable of if we just put our minds and our hearts to it.

    I pray that your treatments continue to be more and more successful. Thank you to you and your family for sharing your journey with all of us.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement Jehan. Sometimes I wonder if I am sharing too much, exposing my vulnerabilities too much. You are right. We are capable of so much if we put our minds to it. The universe is there for our unfolding! Munira

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