How does one cope with the idea of death just when adult life got started? Azmi shares his story of hope.
“When I discovered I had cancer three years ago, it was already too late. I was only 28 and diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. No one suspected anything. I was an active rock climber and led a healthy lifestyle. If I felt unwell, the doctor would simply give me paracetamol.
I started to worry when lumps began appearing on my neck. I thought they were rashes but they didn’t go away for months. It was only after doing a biopsy that I learnt I had lymphoma. The doctors said they were sorry; but, I had to start chemotherapy the very next day.
Before I discovered I had cancer, it felt like my life was just getting started. My wife was five months pregnant. We had just gotten married before her pregnancy and went to Amsterdam for our honeymoon. I was also promoted to Quality Engineer at work.
Life was going so well. But suddenly, everything changed. I found myself thinking, ‘What if I die? What if I don’t get to see the birth of my child?’ There were so many thoughts in my head. And when you’re that sick, you only want one thing – to prolong your life.
I wanted to at least live long enough to see my child grow up. I wanted to get better, but my body reacted very badly to each round of chemo. My vision would blur and I’d get very bad headaches. I didn’t even want to eat because I would vomit. All I could do was sleep.
My vision was so blurred that once, I submitted a wrong file for a school assignment. I got an F because of that. I was pursuing a business degree and I had to explain my health situation to the faculty. Thankfully, they gave me a B grade instead.
After weeks of chemotherapy, I was ready to accept death if it came upon me. I went for one session every two weeks; but, there were still traces of active cancer cells. It was all taking a toll on me. My body wouldn’t recover and my mind was in a bad state.
What helped me through was support from my wife. She was heavily pregnant but would still accompany me to my chemo sessions. Whenever I stopped feeling hopeful, she would push my negative thoughts away. She’d tell me that I can’t leave her. Our baby was not born yet.
Things started getting better when the doctor gave me stronger medication for the bad side effects. It helped counter the bloating, headaches and blurred vision. I could finally eat properly. And after eight long months, I was finally able to stop the chemotherapy.
It’s been three years now and there has been no relapse. I’m still not in the five-year safe zone yet. I still experience chest pains and other side effects, but I get to live another day. I have no issues with that. I’m grateful.
I’m also grateful to say that five days after the doctors stopped my chemotherapy, my wife gave birth to a baby girl. She’s two years plus now. I try to talk to her as much as I can. It’s a blessing to be her father and witness her growth.
Where my medical bills are concerned, I’m just relieved I got myself insured. I was very worried initially, but my financial advisor Azim guided me on what to do. Each round of chemo costs about $2,000, so if I wasn’t covered, I would have easily lost $50k.
Looking back, it’s funny how you start to appreciate the small things when you think you’re going to die. You enjoy the sunset even more because you think time is running out. That’s one area of my life where I’ve definitely changed. I value time now more than ever.
I don’t know how much time I have left with my family. I don’t know how much time I have left in this world. So, I want to achieve as much as I can. People questioned why I continued to pursue a business degree when I had Stage 4 cancer, and I tell them that’s important to me.
People always say that they don’t have time to pursue something, but that’s just an excuse. To live life without accomplishments feels like you’re not living at all. If you want to do something that makes you fulfilled, do it. Go do it while you still have the time.” – Azmi, 31
Interview by: Arman Shah
If you have questions about financial planning or want to find out more about investments or buying insurance for yourself, chat with Azim on mobile at +65 8688-0074 or DM him on IG @zimheyhey or @agent.zim