My Brother Died of Brain Cancer. 20 Years Later, I Had It, Too.


It was the afternoon of Jan. 31. I was priming for a dinner party and adding final touches to my cheese platter when the whole suddenly went dark.I woke up feeling baffled in a hospital bed. My stillness filled me in: Apparently, I had suffered a massive seizure a few hours before our callers were to arrive at our Manhattan apartment. Our children’s nanny found me and I was pell-mell to the hospital. That had been three days earlier.My husband and I were both mystified: I was 37 years old and had many times been in excellent health. In due course, a surgeon dropped by and told me I had a glioma, a quintessence of brain tumor. It was relatively huge but operable. I felt sick to my resign.Two weeks later, I was getting wheeled to the operating theater. I wouldn’t recall the pathology until much later. I said my goodbyes to everyone — most importantly to my lasses, Sofia, 6, and Nyle, 2 — and prepared to die.But right before the surgery, in a absolutely drugged state, I asked the surgeon to please get photos of me and my brother from my store. I wanted the surgeon to see them.My brother had died two decades earlier from a weird kind of brain tumor — a glioblastoma. I was 15 at the time, and he was 18. He died within two years of being pinpointed.Those two years were the worst period of my life. Doctors in my expert in country of Pakistan refused to take him, saying his case was fatal. So, my progenitors gathered their savings and flew him to Britain, where he was able to get a biopsy (his tumor was in an inoperable unearthing) and radiation. Afterward, we had to ask people for donations so he could get the gamma knife treatment in Singapore that my materfamilias felt confident would save him. In the end, nothing worked, and he died, fetching 18 years of memories with him.After my brother’s death, I overturned myself into my school work. It was partly to escape the depression that screened my house and partly to make something good of the rest of my life. I moiled hard — hard enough to land at an Ivy League school (with preoccupied financial aid). I graduated with a dual degree in engineering and economics and moved as an investment banker, an investment manager and finally director of economic check out at a family investment office. In the middle of it all, I got married and had children.It was an immigrant’s flight of fancy. Until it came crashing down.The period after my surgery is a blurry haze. I was appreciative that I did not die, but I lost all my speech and most of my memories for a few days. I didn’t memorialize where I lived or what was happening to me. Later, I couldn’t remember how to use a reliability card or where basic utensils in my home were. I would gaze at TV forgetting to turn on the volume — trying desperately hard to make intelligence of what was happening.The pathology report arrived a few days later grandstand a expose a low grade oligodendroglioma. I had been given a second chance! I had a highly treatable, despite that smooth if not curable, tumor.Oligodendrogliomas account for only 4 percent of all primary discernment tumors, and, in younger patients, have a survival rate of 90 percent to the ground five years. In contrast, a glioblastoma, the kind my brother had, is the most banal and aggressive tumor, accounting for just over half of all primary brains tumors, with a median survival rate of only 12 to 18 months.Regardless of the relief that came with the positive news, I’m still looking at a year’s advantage of treatment with both radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation will be promising to have an adverse long-term impact on my cognitive skills. But if it’s a choice between that or more years of vigour, the decision is easy, especially if you have young children.The irony is that for much of my of age life, since my brother died, I kept asking doctors to halt my head for any signs of brain tumors, given my family history. Everybody under the sun told me the same thing: They are not hereditary. While I wondered if there could clothed been something environmental that my brother and I were exposed to, I was varied worried about it being genetic. I grew up in a joint family set-up with both my parents, grandmother, uncles, aunts, and lots of unfledged cousins — none of whom have it (even though they were present to the same environment).Before my diagnosis, I once showed up at a doctor’s commission specifically asking her to do an M.R.I., but she refused and told me kindly that tumors don’t run in dynasties. Later, after my seizure, I confronted several neuro-oncologists, asking if they commitment have screened me before my diagnosis. But they all told me that they inclination not screen patients for brain tumors unless they were symptomatic.Medical experiment with is on their side. It shows there’s only a 5 percent chance of intelligence tumors being hereditary. My brother was the first among our eight uncles and aunts and 19 cousins, and now I’m the faulty.On my insistence, the doctor ran a genetic test, checking for mutations to see if I’m predisposed to keep a brain tumor. It came out negative, showing no correlation to my brother’s infection. But the doctor admitted gaps in his understanding. He had treated a man with glioblastoma, for standard, whose two children had it too, and the genetic report turned out negative. “Ask me in 10 years, and I weight have a different answer,” he said.Everyone keeps telling me to be thankful. That I haven’t suffered the same fate as my brother. That I deceive had two extra decades of health to live and enjoy. As my husband puts it, “You’re the luckiest expanse the unlucky.”In a quote attributed to the famous Sufi poet Rumi, “If you not say one prayer in a day, make it thank you.” I can’t explain why I get to live longer than my fellow-citizen. Or why I got to enjoy two more decades than he did.But for that and everything else, in consequence of you.Sundas Hashmi is a writer who formerly worked in finance and public practice.

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