The author/blogger, Uzma Yunus, MD, left this world fighting with breast cancer on January 30, 2019.
She was born and raised in Pakistan and immigrated to US in 1997, where she completed her psychiatric residency at University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2013, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Uzma was a psychiatrist, a blogger, an author, a wife and a mother of two. Her advocacy work has continued throughout it all.
Uzma wrote a beautiful book called ‘Left Boob Gone Rogue: My Life with Breast Cancer’.
The author was very keen on discussing and sharing her book and experience with everyone in a #MetsMonday featured post, but unfortunately her health didn’t allow the planned discussion to happen.
So today, we will share her amazing memoir with the readers.
This powerful read is not only for the ones directly affected by cancer.
As the description states:
“This is not just another cancer memoir. It is a manifesto on life, love, and strength.”
Left Boob Gone Rogue gives readers a broader perspective on her life which is so much more than cancer. It is a collection of 42 essays taking you to the reality and harshness of cancer.
Essay # 6, titled as ‘It’s in the family’ tells you all about how Uzma had an early experience to cancer through family’s DNA, when two of her beloved aunts were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Essay #7, titled as “Breast in a Jar” is intense. It tells you about her impatiently frightening phase as she waits for her confirmation of diagnosis, the haunting past (thoughts and images) of her aunt’s surgery came rushing back to her, she explained what she could sense in every little terrifying detail.
“I was anxious…Every thought would end at that ghastly image: the image of my aunt’s breast in a jar. I stole a glance at my breast, the one that might have the rogue cells…I could smell the alcohol, feel the cold OR air, the sounds of that machine, the clunk of the gurney, the haze of the lights. I could sense it all; it was waiting for me. The OR is ready and so is another jar.”
The opening essay, titled as, ‘Disney Channel’ discloses as how a person’s life suddenly and completely changes just in an ordinary day between an ordinary chore. Yunus discovered a lump in a morning shower at a San Francisco hotel, while her family of 3, husband and two children were watching Disney channel.
Cancer is a completely unexpected intrusion in one’s life which gradually affects not just the person, but the whole family, devastatingly.
With the 2016, stage 4 diagnosis, Yunus was forced to tackle tough questions about her beliefs, desires, and terminal wishes. She chose to embrace her life, including the most difficult challenges that the disease brought into her life.
Every next essay focuses on the next step, next challenge and another tough question that she must engage with.
She wrote about motherhood in a heart wrenching way, not knowing what and how much to tell her two young children of the age five and nine.
In one of her essay, titled ‘I’m Sorry’, Yunus said:
“I felt like a failure, as if I let down everyone who thought I would “kick the shit out of cancer.” I was no longer the example of how stage III can be a success story and an inspiration. As a doctor, I understood that there was nothing I did to bring back my cancer. But I still felt a sense of shame.”
Describing how she felt apologetic knowing that her cancer had metastasized after hearing the words like ‘You can beat this’
In this book are the insights, bits of wisdom, observations about cancer, motherhood, being a patient, a doctor and just life in general.
For other survivor friends, she said:
“Since my recurrence, I’ve often wondered if I scared the other survivors; if seeing me reactivated their own fears of mortality.”
About being a mom with terminal cancer, she stated:
“At six now, she still worries about monsters under the bed, while the scariest monster that stalks her life, lives within me.”
It’s unbelievably painful, how hard do parents struggle to make sure their children stay away from any and every kind of pain, yet sometimes they have to be the one telling them the most horrifying news of reality, like Cancer.
“I win because although the scans, the meds, the side effects, the fears, the grief, the loss, and the disability are all part of my life, they are NOT my life.”
A brave statement from the woman who really Won.
Visit her site at https://uzmamd.com/