Munira Version 2.0, two years later…

February 14, 2015 – Toronto.

I am looking at the flowers that Nagib brought me to the hospital on Valentine’s Day two years ago.  I was on the 14th Floor of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in the stem cell unit, preparing to undergo a stem cell transplant.  I remember being nervous and excited, hoping that the stem cells would settle happily in my body and start functioning.  Nagib brought the Valentine’s Day spirit to the hospital ward and we marked the occasion together – tired, hopeful, cuddling, crying, laughing and making dreams for the future.  And he brought me flowers – not real ones because they were not allowed in the ward – but a wonderful, strong, robust arrangement of white and pink flowers that cheered the room and now sits in our family room as yet another symbol of hope.

It has been two unforgettable years since the stem cell transplant.  And as I reflect on Munira Version 2.0, two years later, I am stunned at how far I have come with God’s grace.  The chemo before the actual transplant was brutal.  I went through the side effects of chemo all over again and experienced everything from brain fog to extreme fatigue, from hair loss (again) to weight loss, from not being able to go to the bathroom to going to the bathroom all the time.  Two weeks after the transplant, I saw Dr. Tiedemann and he said that things were progressing well but that I needed to take the time to heal.  He told me to be patient.

For a long time, nothing came easy.  Walking was particularly hard.  Going back to work was out of the question.  Slowly, slowly, the stem cells settled and things started to get better.  We celebrated every milestone:  the first time I could eat a full meal; the first time I could wear heels again; when my hair came back in full force; when Dr. Tiedemann said I could work one day a week.

Fast forward to today.  I am working (almost) full time, doing work I love to do!  I am able to travel (without having to resort to using a wheelchair).  My energy level is increasing and I am not running out of spoons so rapidly.  In fact, I have noticed that, on many days, I actually have a few spoons left at the end of the day – and that makes me smile!  I continue to go to the hospital for bone strengthening treatment and clinic appointments every 3 months, but other than that, life has returned pretty much to normal.

One of my biggest joys today is seeing my family intact.  For two years, Shayne and Sabrina put their lives on hold, figuratively, too frightened with the thought of losing me.  Sabrina returned from Africa to take care of me for many months.  My mom and sister fed me carrot juice and beetroots, among other things, to will me to health.  And Nagib, my love, showed me then, as he does now, what it means to love someone so completely and absolutely.

IMG_20150214_183724With my cancers so much in rear-view, Shayne and Sabrina are now living their lives fully and we could not be happier.

When I was ill. I made a lot of promises, most that I have been able to keep and a few that I need to work on.  I was passionate about wanting to change people’s perception of cancer patients, and I am making some progress on this front.  I wanted to seek ways to give back to the cancer community.  I am doing this by being part of the Executive Team for the the Toronto & District Multiple Myeloma Support Group (http://www.myelomatoronto.ca/).  As well, my family and I have raised more than $50,000 in the past 3 years for the Molly and David Bloom Chair in Multiple Myeloma Research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.  Our next MM5K Walk is on June 21st, 2015.  

In Africa, Shayne kept asking me the question, “what is your big game?”.  This is the question I used to ask Shayne and Sabrina over the years when I felt they were playing small, or not thinking big enough.  In the spirit of playing big, and taking Shayne’s challenge, here is what I plan to accomplish this year, God willing, to celebrate my stem cell birthday:

  • I will write a book about my journey.
  • I will record my third CD of devotional hymns.
  • I will make time to spend with people I love.
  • Yes, this year I will make fitness a priority.
  • I will re-create “Jahazi”, a beautiful space in our basement to hang out and chill.
  • I will go back to Africa and support Kidogo at a grassroots level.
  • I hope to raise another $20,000 for cancer research.
  • We will open our home for people to come and interact.
  • I hope to watch a baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

I am exhilarated by what is possible this year and would love your input. Tell me what I should do, or find, this year – it can be intriguing, fun, crazy, creative.  I will take all your suggestions and incorporate it as part of my big game.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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 Munira, Version 2.0

23 Comments

  • M Sarkar (@3sarkar) , March 24, 2015

    Munira ji, I congratulate you on your recovery! I stumbled into this page while looking for Sabrina’s email- having met her briefly at the Boston Hult Prize, while she was trying to meet admiring students AND eat a late dinner at the same time (so I skipped asking her for a business card).

    As for your To-Do list, you could consider sharing some of the devotional hymn recordings with a wider audience through SoundCloud, or via Amazon’s MP3 store.
    Regarding Kidogo, it would seem that Sabrina has a great grip on things. As part of the judges panel at Boston Hult Prize, she posed some of the best questions to contestants.

    • Munira Premji , April 5, 2015

      Thanks so much for taking the time to write! I’m glad you stumbled upon my blog. Love your suggestion about the hymn recordings. Yes, Sabrina is one special lady….

  • Daniele Bergstra , February 22, 2015

    You are such an inspiration. I’m so glad I have been able to know you and your amazing family. You and your family are a blessing!

  • Lynda and Dave Cavanagh , February 16, 2015

    Munira,
    I am sitting here thinking about you. My first thought, after I read your post, was to immediately say SLOW DOWN. Saying that, you were slowed down for quite some time and I know that was very difficult. So, now I say, do what ever you need to do to make you happy.
    I hope that you will come down here to Brockville when the weather gets better. Brockville is a beautiful place in the spring and summer. Please put Dave and I on your places to visit. Please keep well.
    Love Lynda

    Sent from Dave’s iPad

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      Lynda! My role model and friend! I will come and spend time with you in brockville. It will be my joy! I know what you mean, I sometimes struggle thinking I should slowdown.then I feel like I need to make the most of every minute I have. I think I’ve found something that works for me. I’m happy.

  • Anonymous , February 16, 2015

    The Roses are as Beautiful and Gorgeous just like YOU!!!. May Mowla bless you with good health, happiness and lots of Baraka to help & inspire people around you. Ameen. Tc n God bless all. Ameen

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      What a very beautiful message ! Thank you for your wishes and your love!

  • Anonymous , February 16, 2015

    Saira Says” Hi Muni hope you are doing well!! so proud of you – I am sure you will meet all your goals:) take care dear!!!!

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      Hi Saira says! I miss you! How have you been? I would love to hear about your goals for this year! That way we can help each other out,,,,

  • Dave and Erika McMullen , February 15, 2015

    Thank you Munira for your eloquent message and example on “your big game.” That should be important to all of us. Very best wishes.

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      Dave and Erica. You are my inspiration. Thank you for being part of my family!

  • Lorraine McCallum , February 15, 2015

    You are beautiful Munira, I am proud to call you my friend. Miss you!

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      Hi Lorraine. It was so good to talk today! Can’t wait to spend delicious hours together in April!

  • Anonymous , February 15, 2015

    Be kind & generous to yourself & your achievements💕

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      Great reminder! Wise words!

  • Anonymous , February 15, 2015

    Such a beautiful and hopeful message. Here’s another idea. Please visit the Pan/Parapan American Games this summer in Toronto and GTA. In particular I hope you can make it to a Parapan match and witness the possible. May it continue to inspire you and your family! Best wishes, paola

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      What a fabulous idea Paola! I will definitely put this on my list. Great suggestion!

  • Carmela , February 15, 2015

    You should go to The Bigger Game Summit in upstate New York. I believe it’s June 3-5

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      Hi Carmela! I can probably make it! Would you highly recommend it? Sending you lots of love!

  • Anny , February 15, 2015

    You continue to inspire me. One thing I know for sure, you will do everything on that list and much more!

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      I see you are in India! Can’t wait to see you and hear all about your journey and learnings! Let’s plan to do stuff together in 2015!

  • Naz , February 15, 2015

    3rd CD of Devotional Music. Where are the first two. How come I don’t know about them. Let me know how I can get copies please. Great seeing you in khane recently. I look forward to more of your blogs and updates on your new list.

    • Munira Premji , February 22, 2015

      Dearest Naz. Did you get it? What did you think?

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