My dear Nani's journey with GBM
Updated: Mar 30
My Nani was the most tech-savvy woman in her 70’s that I knew. She was extremely Facebook-active, could type super-fast on her iPhone and even made up her own abbreviations: tks for thanks, pl for please and hse for house. She was strong and gutsy. A cartwheel attempt a few years ago almost left her with a broken neck. When she came to visit me in college, she spent the entire stop-over between connecting flights carrying my heavy trolley-bag because the wheel was broken. She was also a superstar entrepreneur. Along with three friends, she started a school from scratch. This school, Chittagong Grammar School, is now the best school in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
One morning, my Nani woke up and found that she couldn’t read the newspaper, something she read every single morning. It took her half an hour to read one paragraph. Something was wrong. She told us, we panicked and flew her to the city, where my aunt took her for an MRI. It was early morning the next day when I received these messages:
“She has a tumor” “Its size is 3cm x 3cm” “Risk to travel” “Risk of convulsion” “We need to open and excise the tumor” “Decide in one day what to do”
The next year was extremely difficult; she was diagnosed with the most aggressive brain cancer there is: stage IV glioblastoma. I had never even heard the word before and suddenly found myself obsessed with her disease- I joined online forums and scanned articles. By chance, I was connected to Komal, whose husband had experienced the same disease- it was her advice and guidance that helped us make a lot of medical decisions as a family. If that “chance” connection with Komal hadn’t occurred, we would have found ourselves lost and confused throughout many points after my Nani’s diagnosis. It is because of this that I feel that an official local system of support is required for those with brain tumors themselves or within their family and friends, where everyone can benefit from both the medical and personal knowledge of those who have been through something similar.
- Ruqayya Diwan Adamjee, grand-daughter and caregiver
Ruqayya Diwan Adamjee is a writer and illustrator based in Karachi, Pakistan. Her work presents local themes in a fun, relatable way.
Ruqayya graduated with a Bsc in Economics from Duke University in 2013. She worked for three years in the portfolio team at Acumen and is the author and illustrator of the bestselling book Choti Choti Khushiyan.