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UBUNTU: Standing together in times of COVID-19

Every day, we hear about the devastating impact of the novel coronavirus. The numbers of people who have died from COVID-19. Hospitals too overwhelmed to deal adequately with patients ill from the virus. The economy cratered into what might lead to a depression. A vaccine that still seems far of. It’s easy right now to get caught up in the breaking news about rescue flights, closed borders and cities in shutdown. “Flatten the curve” has become our new mantra (for New Zealand it is about squashing the curve). “Stay at home”, “wash your hands”, “physical distancing” have become our day to day reality.

But what if we looked at COVID-19 from a different perspective.  What if the coronavirus was a teacher.  What might we learn from it? (more…)

My husband went grocery shopping


COVID-19 is certainly teaching us new skills. A skill that my husband Nagib is painfully learning is how to do a full-scale grocery shopping. Nagib typically does not do groceries; this is a chore that my mom and I enjoy doing weekly. The odd time Nagib comes grocery shopping with me, we have distinct roles: I do the groceries, Nagib manoeuvres the cart and organizes the groceries beautifully so that vegetables sit with vegetables, bread sits in the upper part of the cart, eggs are placed just so. (more…)

The heroes of COVID-19

In this time of mounting crisis and anxiety, there are leaders that are emerging as the true heroes of the world.

Capable and stoic leaders, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and many others, who have what it takes to lead during times of crisis and who put the health and safety of citizens first. Contrast that to narcissistic leaders who recklessly put their countries at risk because they do not believe in science, undermine experts and focus on their own short-term political interests.

Volunteers who give of their time and energy to support others.  I was taken aback when I received calls from several leaders within my community to check on how I was doing, whether my family needed anything and to provide resources should we need support.  I later found out that this was something that the leadership did for every member of the congregation. (more…)

COVID-19: A Cancer Survivor’s Perspective

Last week I connected with a friend through social media. She and I have been on our own distinct, yet similar journeys over the past 5 or so years. Her husband was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and she is his primary caregiver. As the world around us grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, she remarked that living through these times has not been much different from normal life for her family. They have already stared illness and even death in the face before and have had to make difficult life decisions with a shadow looming over them.

I was diagnosed with two cancers eight years ago, and a third cancer some four years ago. As my friend so aptly expressed, we have lived through the anxiety and fear we see multiplied, at a grand scale, around us everywhere today. While COVID-19 is a global, far-reaching pandemic, I am struck by the parallels I see between it and people dealing with life-threatening diseases.

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Munira Version 3.0

November 19, 2019 – As I walked into the Autologous Transplant Day Hospital on the 14th Floor of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, I was overcome with emotion as I saw many familiar faces from over six years ago when I had my first stem cell transplant.

I saw Aileen who was very pregnant when she oversaw my first stem cell infusion. Joanne reminded me that she had helped shave my head while I was in hospital six years ago. I saw Ana who gave me a big hug and said, “welcome back Premji”. And then there was Tasha, one of my all-time favourite nurses. Tasha is representative of the incredible nurses that work in the Autologous Transplant unit – experienced, competent and caring. She then proceeded to give me warm and personalized care throughout the day and answered all of Nagib’s questions about the countless medications I have to take over the next month. I continue to be amazed with the grace with which Tasha and her colleagues look after their patients.

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