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“Family 1 : Cancer 0” by Abdulmumin Ibrahim

In August of 2023, we released our fourth Open Call: How might we reimagine healing and transformation with cancer through poetry, art, letters, and stories? The following is a letter submission we received from this open call.

“Most times, the impact that family bonds and support can play in healing with cancer is tremendous and is unfortunately often overlooked. My submission follows a timeline that is in line with my current reality. It is a personal story that followed my feelings and how I reacted to the situation and how I moved on from it. When a proper support structure is in place, when the will to live is bolstered by strong family bonds, this introduces a positive element into healing and transformation with cancer. In my community, cancer is often seen as something you can not come back from. A death sentence in summary. This automatically throws both patient and the family into a negative mindset. As a professional in Healthcare, it is known that a positive mindset responds better to treatment that the later. As such, my submission encourages that family bonds be strengthened. Loved ones needs to provide that solid support structure for the patients. Make the patient feel wanted, appreciated and responsible. A cancer patient with high hopes of getting better for his/her waiting family will fight harder and harder each day.”

Abdulmumin Ibrahim

Family 1 : Cancer 0

Dear Little Brother,

It is weird calling my past self little brother, knowing clearly only a few years differentiates us. Those few years however represents perhaps one of our most trying moments on mother earth. To me, it was a time of healing, transformation and most importantly perhaps family.

It has often been said that loved ones of cancer patients are hit the hardest. It was just like yesterday when dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I remember feeling as if it was the end of the world. You must be scared right now. You really need not be. You need to believe against all odds that things will get better. How do you do that you might ask?

Asides the disease, what kills even faster is loneliness and depression. Create memories with him, capture those memories, reminisce about past events, get the family together and make every moment of his time bright and happy. It wasn’t just for him but for us all. I felt closer to him than ever and the cancer didn’t hover us all nor encapsulate our every actions. It became akin to a casual illness although admittedly severe but not enough to dampen our family bonds and connections. In situations where any of us might not be with him, I got him a diary to write in. He uses that to express his thoughts, plan his day or organize our next family activity. Giving that sense of responsibility despite his condition, a family to live for, people waiting on him to get better, gave him an edge in fighting the disease. He fought through the pains with a strength I have hardly seen in my entire lifetime. He truly is one of the strongest person I know. All of that strength however might not have availed him if not the support structure in place. The fact that I refused to fall into depression or allow the illness to shatter our family, that my family rose up as an unbreakable structure giving our dad that strength to come back to us, slowly and gradually but eventually yes.

Some months back, he was declared to be in remission. It was a dream come true. You really can not afford to allow fear to overrule you. You have a family waiting for you to stand strong, and a father waiting for his son to give him that strength needed to fight this. We’ve always fought every obstacles as a family. It is not time to falter or withdraw. I know you can do this and you have e everything it takes. It won’t be easy definitely but when it comes to us, when has it ever been easy? But we have never allowed that to stop us right? So, sit up, pull yourself from that depression cloud and be the man I know you can be.

Eagerly waiting for time to catch up so that we can catch up.

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