Reaching Out

Top of the Observation Deck at the Rockefeller Center, New York
Top of the Observation Deck at the Rockefeller Center, New York

In the past few months, I have met many warriors who are battling all kinds of cancers.  I applaud and respect them because I know that cancer can be an uphill battle and it is often hard to see beyond the ravages of the illness.  It can consume our lives and our thoughts.  And sometimes our way of dealing with cancer (or any other chronic illness) is to isolate ourselves from the world.

That happened to me after the stem cell transplant.  For the longest time, my attention was on the stem cell transplant process – I read about it, I visualized it, and I saw myself successfully going through it.  So once the transplant was done, I felt like I did not have much to look forward to regarding treatment.

For about a month after I came home from the transplant, I mostly shut myself from the world.  I did not leave the house much.  I turned down invites from friends for visits and lunches.  I did not return calls or emails.  I isolated myself from people I loved.  I was scared and unsure.  I felt most comfortable under the covers in my bed.  One of my friends called me out on my behaviour and for cancelling visits with her multiple times.   Many others kept in touch with me to let me know that they were there for me and that I could reach out to them anytime.

Around this time, I also started reading a book, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  What struck me most about this book is research by the author that most people, during times of trouble and hardship, tend to bear down and work harder while isolating themselves from family and friends.  And he concludes that this is the worst thing you can do because this is the time when you need the most support from people around you.  I realized that this is exactly what I was doing.  What is it about the human condition that makes it so difficult for us to reach out for help?  Is it that we are afraid to be vulnerable?  Is it that we want to be seen a particular way?  Is it that we see reaching out as a sign of weakness?  For me, it was not wanting people to see me when I was feeling “less than” me.

The past month has been a lot better for me.  I had a 50-day post transplant follow up with my doctor, and he confirmed that the stem cells appear to be working, although I still have some residual cancer in my bone marrow.  My doctor also said that I was doing exceptionally well for someone who just went through the stem cell transplant and confirmed that I will only get stronger over time.  So I have a lot to look forward to!

In the past month, Nagib and I went to New York to celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary.  We went to Yankee Stadium, watched Spiderman and ate lots of pasta with shrimp!  I have started a fitness program at Goodlife Fitness (can’t wait to tell you all about it!),  I ran a team building workshop for about 100 volunteers and was the Emcee at a wedding last weekend.  This past week, I volunteered to do 15 minute coaching sessions at the Canadian Management Centre for ICF Coaching Week.   And I am reaching out more, even when I’m not at my best.  It feels good to be back – nervous,wobbly,  vulnerable, hopeful and all!

Munira at Yankee Stadium
Munira at the beautiful new Yankee Stadium
Blue Jays at Yankees - Apr 28, 2013
Toronto Blue Jays at the New York Yankees
April 28, 2013
Times Square at night
Times Square at night
The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
at Times Square, New York

29 thoughts on “Reaching Out”

  1. Hi Munira, glad to read your recent post and to hear you are doing well. Great NY pics. Your looking great as usual : )

  2. Munira, I’m glad you are back in circulation again. I missed hearing from you. I miss your company. Can’t wait to hear about your fitness program at Goodlife! Let me know when we can get together again!
    Love, Patti

    1. Hi Patti – – I missed not writing as well! It’s such a great way to connect with you! Goodlife is interesting….I’ll let you know when i am next downtown.

  3. Wow!!! You look phenomenal as usual. I have been missing your blogs. I think of you everyday. Love the pictures. I don’t think anyone can get enough of New York and what a wonderful place to celebrate a 31 year anniversary… a city that never sleeps!
    I loved seeing you at the walk and really appreciated and cherished your wonderful hug. Needed that, let me tell you. You amaze me every time I see you. You really are one incredible and wonderful woman.
    Cheers to many many many many more anniversaries to share with your incredible and wonderful husband!!!

    Love to you always,
    Arif, Dilshad, Nareesa and Tahara

  4. One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”
    ― Michael J. Fox


  5. you are so lucky and look exceptionally well for what you have been through, keep moving forard ,dont turn back ,you have come a long long way,now dont give it up
    success or victory is in the hands of god, but one must keep trying even if it means nothing to you, it means a lot to the world around you.


    1. Thanks Salome. I love your metaphor of moving forward. It is all about momentum. I’m refusing to give up! Thanks so much for taking the time to write.

  6. Your back! WOW it will be alot easier from now on.
    Keep that chin up. You guys look great. 31 years and counting. congratulations!

    1. Dearest Lynda – – My spirited, wonderful friend! With you – – ,and me back – – nothing can stop either of us! What’s happening in your life?

  7. Munira – thank you for sharing. Your honest reflections are refreshing and lesson giving. Happy anniversary and we pray for many many many more anniversaries. You are truly a guiding light. Keep on shining. Love and prayers Mahbanu and Yasmin

    1. Anniversaries are so special aren’t they? They represent a moment in time and give time for reflection and celebration. Thank you for your prayers. They sustain me. Lots of love, Munira

  8. I loved this note–and love to have you back in my inbox, Munira! Yes, we do tend to pull in during times when we need our community the most. But it’s our common humanity that makes us all love and forgive one another and move on. You look so beautiful. Love BJ

    1. BJ – – I visualized myself in your inbox. And as soon as you opened your inbox, I jumped out to give you the biggest hug in the world! You are so profoud in what you say – – we do pull in, and then our common humanity helps us reach out and move on. Much love to you my friend, Munira

  9. So good to hear you are doing well. Look forward to catching up soon. Take care, Nimira

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