October 16-31 – 2020









To honour Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Haider Rifaat interviewed breast cancer survivor and veteran artist Nadia Jamil about her road to recovery

Nadia, how’ve you been coping with cancer?
The National Health Service (NHS) in the U.K. is wonderful. They took most of the burden off me. Having my mum and son around has been very nice and I have a fluffy little dog who I cuddle a lot. Friends and family keep in touch and cheer me on. My social media family keeps me smiling and feeling so loved and then of course there’s my faith. Allah has carried me through this so gently and with so much love.

How has your experience with cancer and its treatment been like during the ongoing pandemic? 
Pretty normal. Kind volunteers drove me back and forth from treatments. I went and convalesced at my friend’s place in London a few times during treatments. I got really sick at times and was hospitalised, but I survived. I’m left with arthritis and diabetes, which I’m trying to deal with as positively as possible.

How did you muster the courage to motivate yourself during the initial weeks of your diagnosis? Where did you get that courage from?
I was very scared initially. My best friend was with me during the initial weeks; she gave me a lot of strength, as did my kids. Then of course, Allah sends courage to those who ask for it.

What coping strategies did you rely on to pull through this health crisis?
Prayer, meditation, mental health therapy, pet therapy and reaching out to people

What is the most important lesson that cancer has taught you?
That I don’t need anyone else. Allah shields me and I have an army inside me that can save my life.

At what point did you feel most vulnerable?
When my best friend, who was meant to be my treatment partner, left me before chemotherapy.

Who did you turn to for solace?
Allah and the NHS mental health crisis team.

How are you a different person now than who you were before?
I’m more self-sufficient and more patient. I respect pain and heartbreak; they’re my teachers and I’m not scared of being alone now.

Many people don’t normally share their journey with cancer on social media, but you have. Why did you decide to put yourself out there?
I felt alone and scared. I didn’t know how to share all these intense feelings with any one person, because they might run away. So, I shared my feelings in a space where I didn’t feel deserted. The response was overwhelming!

What role has the entertainment fraternity played at this stage of your life?

How do you view life and death?
Life’s a beautiful lesson, a wonderful journey. It’s as positive as you see it and as negative as you perceive it. Death is the one single definitive truth at the end. Death is also the beginning of another journey. Best we prepare for that in this lifetime.

What do you want the readers to take away from your experience?
You’re your greatest friend. Take care of yourself, listen to yourself and don’t think you ever need anyone else. The love of people is a bonus. It might come or go—they might come and go. But you’ll always be there for yourself, so self-partner and self-parent yourself.

How do you want people to remember you?
With a smile.

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