Talking about an incurable cancer diagnosis with Saima

When I was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer it came as a huge shock. Initially, it I felt like it was a stitch up or something. How could I have lung cancer? I was 29. 

The doctors and oncologists threw words like palliative care out there, and talked about giving me ‘quality of life,’ which essentially means they’re going to make things comfortable. It was a lot to digest.

I was told that without treatment I might have just six to twelve months to live, and when people found out the news, it was like I died already. They would send messages saying that their thoughts were with me, or send flowers.

Illness, especially cancer, is taboo in South Asian culture. No one wants to talk about their own bad news to people, and it was especially hard talking to my mother who didn’t even know about cancer, or what the word cancer meant. 

I run a family restaurant together with my mum, so knowing that I had plans in place for the practical side of things was really important to me. I sat down with my family and talked about how to run the restaurant, giving them access to my accounts and advising them on how to manage the finances when I’m no longer here. 

It might seem morbid, particularly as I’m focused on living life to the full despite my diagnosis, but having my affairs in order has been a big source of comfort to me.

Having my affairs in order has been a big source of comfort to me.

Saima, 29, diagnosed with incurable lung cancer