Welcome back to my blog, today I will not be sharing my thoughts but we will be hearing from a young inspiring lady, Amani, about how cancer has affected her life. She is a great person and is is a pleasure to be able to work with and help raise awareness with her. This is Amani’s story.
If someone told me a year ago that I would be asked to write a guest blog for Running Through Cancer, to say I would have been shocked and confused is somewhat of an understatement!! I thought I had my life all figured out. It didn’t ever cross my mind that in one day it could all just come crumbling down around me. I was 22years old, a law graduate starting my Masters in Social Work and set to get married within a few months. Life couldn’t have been better. And then one day everything changed.
On my birthday I collapsed after my first ever seizure. I was rushed into hospital and within a few hours was given the news that I had a brain tumour. Following a biopsy it was confirmed to be cancer – Grade 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme, the most serious and deadly of all brain tumours. I didn’t really know what this would mean for my life but it didn’t take long for the harsh reality to hit.
Immediately, I lost my independence being unable to do normal daily activities that before I did without any thought. My studies had to be put on hold and I don’t know whether I will ever be able to finish. I started radiotherapy at the end of May whilst also learning that I was covid positive. I felt like my life couldn’t possibly get any worse but then I received the news that my fiancé no longer wanted to go ahead with the wedding and he walked away. I am not ashamed to admit this was my breaking point. I just couldn’t see a reason for fighting the disease when I could no longer see a future to fight for. I couldn’t be left alone because negative thoughts would consume me. I experienced panics attacks, episodes of mania, utter terror and confusion. I was a shadow of my former self.
We soon found out that my tumour had grown 94% despite the standard NHS treatment. We were left looking for private treatment and there was only one suitable option, a trial drug from Germany called ONC201 costing £4,000 per month. But you can’t put a price on your child’s life, so my parents set up a GoFundMe page and I have been taking it since September and have thankfully had stable scans ever since.
Finally, there was hope and the fight began again – my Mum set up an Instagram page called @Fight4Amani to keep the community who had raised £100,000 in just 24 hours updated on my treatment. So many people – including strangers were invested in my recovery and if they weren’t giving up on me, I couldn’t give up on myself. Sometimes when it’s hard to find the motivation to fight for yourself you fight for others – my family, friends and now even strangers.
But before long, the Instagram page became more than we could have imagined. It allowed me to connect with other young, inspiring cancer fighters. For the first time since my diagnosis, I didn’t feel alone. It gave me a focus and a platform to express my thoughts through my journey. It also enabled me to campaign for change by promoting the Brain Tumour Research petition tackling the lack of Government funding which is shockingly low. I felt like I had a purpose and was doing something positive in the hope of making a change for myself and others.
I was taken aback by the interest in my story but relieved to have found my voice again. A few radio interviews gave me the idea and the confidence to launch a podcast where I can share the highs and lows and everything in between about my journey with brain cancer. The first episode of Chat2Amani was launched last week on social media platforms to mark Brain Tumour Awareness Month. I was overwhelmed by the response and look forward to producing more content as and when my health allows it. I am hopeful that this podcast will forge a life of its own and open many great opportunities such as this collaboration with Matthew’s blog post which came about from episode 1.
But even though my diagnosis has taken over my life, I am determined to not let it define me. I have realised that I can still make a positive difference despite my illness. Through this difficult time, I have learnt that you can’t be positive all the time and there is strength in admitting that you’re struggling and accepting help from others. I could never have got through my most difficult of days without my family and friends encouraging me to keep fighting. I used to feel weak because of how low I fell but I now realise it’s not how low you fall that matters but how you rise back up again. Life can be awful, but we can try and make the most out of a bad situation.
For me, I’ve found I need a purpose – something to motivate me. I want to help others and if I can do that by sharing my story then maybe I can help people feel less alone. I want to continue to get involved with campaigning for positive change. If I can make even a small difference, then I’ve got to keep going. Now I have a voice and reason to keep fighting. Thank you to everyone who has listened to my podcast, shared my story and given me a platform to do so. That includes you Matthew! You’re an inspiration to me and so many others – never give up.
Thank you for reading, Amani Liaquat.
Thank you for reading Amani’s story. You can find her on Instagram @Fight4Amani) and YouTube (Fight4Amani). Please show her your support.
Thank you so much to Amani for being my first guest blogger and we are all staying positive for you and I’m sure everyone send there love.