To say that I was not happy when I was told that I needed a D&C, would be an understatement. It meant hospitalization for the day, general anesthesia, a procedure followed by a biopsy. But there was no choice so I got it done. Everyone assured me that I was worrying about nothing and the tissue would be benign. I wanted so much to believe that and convinced myself that it would indeed not be malignant. I discharged myself from hospital at 2 a.m. and went home rather than spend the night much to the chagrin of Afia Salam who was staying with me. Like most normal people, I don’t like hospitals and wanted to be out as soon as possible.
A week or so passed following the D&C and it was after attending an event in Karachi, that I went to collect my biopsy report from the AKU collection center at Teen Talwar in Clifton to find out what the verdict was. As happens with most medical reports, this report, with all its medical jargon, meant very little to me. However, the words Endometriod Adenocarcinoma raised a red flag in my brain – didn’t ‘carcinoma’ have some connection with cancer? I tried not to think about it as I drove home. As soon as I got there, I typed Endometriod Adenocarcinoma in Google Search – and the words cancer were the first words that popped up. As the realization engulfed me, the tears started to flow down my cheeks. I let it all out and then the brain started to function. I needed to find out how serious it was, had to fight it, had to deal with it – not so much for my own sake as much as Abbaji’s. Who would take care of him if I wasn’t around? He needed me. For his sake I had to get well, I kept telling myself.
Anyway, I had to push everything out of my head for a few days because the next morning I was leaving for Istanbul to attend the Turkish ICT Summit. I had committed to going there on behalf of P@SHA and so off I went. Tried to keep thoughts of the diagnosis at the back of my mind and to concentrate on the networking and on the conference proceedings and on seeing Istanbul for the first time. But that story is for another time.
Back in Karachi four days later, I called the oncologist. She checked out the report I sent by email, told me it was indeed cancer but that it appeared to be stage 1. She asked me to immediately get a CT Scan and MRI done so she could assess the extent to which the cancer had spread if it had.
Even though several of my dear friends have struggled with this disease – some have conquered it while others haven’t, I was not ready to be told that I was suffering from cancer. Like most people, I had lived under the illusion that this type of thing only happened to other people – until one day it happened to me.
Anyway, I had to accept it and deal with it. So off I went for the CT Scan and the MRI. Thank God for dear friends who accompanied me for doctor’s visits, tests and follow ups. Some showed up with chocolate cake to cheer me up. Others showed up to crack a joke or two to distract me from the seriousness of this disease and what awaited me. Thank God also for my siblings & extended family and friends who offered their love, understanding and support and the P@SHA Chairman, Central Executive Committee and my team at the Secretariat all of whom told me to focus on getting well while they would take care of P@SHA and its activities.
The CT Scan and MRI indicated that the cancer hadn’t spread. The oncologist looked at all the reports and said that I would need surgery – a complete hysterectomy – which would possibly have to be followed by several cycles of radiation but she said the prognosis was good. It appeared that we had caught it early and although the surgery and follow up treatment would be rough as would the recuperation, I should come through it okay. Of course she would only be really sure of the extent of it once she operated.
The surgery could have been done right away but my haemoglobin count was low so the doctor said that I should bump that up with iron, folic acid and a better diet and scheduled surgery for October 15. This suited me since the P@SHA Annual ICT Awards and Conference were scheduled for October 10 – yes I was worried about that! I focused on preparations for the events and tried to keep my mind off the cancer but at the same time I worked on increasing my iron intake.
I kept my spirits high and, other than a close inner circle, no-one knew what I was going through.
The surgery was further delayed by another week due to an infection which had to be treated with strong antibiotics but finally today I was admitted to Aga Khan Hospital (AKU). The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning. I will be in hospital for at least 6 days and will probably need a few weeks of recuperation time after that – before the radiation cycles are started.
To all those who have been calling and emailing and wondering why I won’t schedule anything for the next few weeks, you now have your answer. I hope you understand and will give me the space and time that I need to fight this.
My doctor says I can be on my iPad 24 hours after the surgery if I am up to it so you may start seeing updates very soon after I have been cut up and released from the Special Care Unit.
To all those who have been around the past few weeks seeing me through this tough period providing love and support, accompanying me for doctors’ visits and a plethora of tests, bringing me cakes, taking me for nice lunches, making sure I continued to smile and stayed positive and, most important of all, praying for my health and my quick and complete recovery – all I can say is thank you. It is great to have so many people in your life who care so much. That is what gives me strength and enables me to continue smiling and laughing.
To Sultan Hamdani and Atif Mumtaz, thank you for your prayers at Mecca during the Hajj. To Norbert Almeida and Raza – thanks for bleeding for me (donating blood) at such short notice. We’ll all party once this is all over! . For now please say a little prayer that all goes well tomorrow and in the days that follow.
If you are planning to lease a car, you better make sure that you are able to make the payments on a regular basis to the bank because if you don’t, this could be your car!
I first saw this car in the basement of my office building months ago and I wondered why no-one cleaned it or took care of it. Then I saw the tyres had gone flat and the amount of dirt on it had increased.
One day I asked the chowkidaar whose car it was. It was then that he told me that this was a car that had been repossessed by the bank for non-payment and hence it just stood there until it met its fate – probably the bank would sell it and try and get part of its money back. One would think that if they want to sell it at a good price, the least they could do was to keep it in good shape. Ah well, who am I to make any suggestions? It’s just that it hurts me to see a car being treated thus.
When Mary Himinkool, Head of Global Entrepreneurship Outreach at Google contacted me and asked if I would be interested in speaking on a panel at Google I/O in San Francisco in June, I jumped at the opportunity. I had heard so much about the Google I/O event from Zafar Khan and was really keen to see for myself what the fuss was all about. More important than that was the opportunity it provided for me to speak about the entrepreneurial scene in Pakistan and the innovation taking place in the Pakistan IT sector.
Details to follow but I thought that in the meantime, I would put up the video of the global panel which comprised some very interesting panelists who had a great deal of expertise to share.
Am I the only one in this country who is finding it irritating to watch/listen to the current spate of advertising being run on television and radio?
Have any of you heard the Zong advert that was running last month which I personally found sexist and distasteful to an extreme? you know the one in which some young men are sitting around discussing the qualities they would prefer in a woman – all in one package? God that irritated me beyond belief! Did someone actually think it was clever?
Then there is the HBL ad with the Pakistani version of “Mr. Bean”. Does the bank really believe that someone will open an account in HBL as a result of his antics in this ad? Or is it just recall that they are aiming for, not call to action. Come on guys! Don’t forget the end goal!
Public service advertising is no better – have you heard the polio awareness ad in which Shahid Afridi asks if you want to gift your son a set of crutches or a cricket bat? I guess it is supposed to shock parents into getting their children the polio drops but somehow it doesn’t resonate with me on two levels – first of all the same message could have been delivered in a less crude fashion and secondly it appears to say that only the boy child needs to be protected from polio. The general idea of having someone of Afridi’s profile tell people to get polio vaccination for their kids is a good one but it needed to be scripted better.
And if it isn’t the quality of advertising, it is the frequency. Why do advertisers or their ad agencies believe that I want to watch or listen to the same ad several times in the space of a couple of minutes in succession. If anything, it puts me off the product that is being sold or irritates me into turning off the radio or television channel.
This chap has a motorbike as his primary mode of transport. Carrying tubelights on a motorbike may phase other people out but he figured out a unique way of carrying them without having to take his hands off the handles or causing problems for anyone else on the road. This too is innovation, don’t you think? I couldn’t reist taking his picture
On life’s journey very rarely do you meet people who not only make an impression on you but who also contribute to and influence your growth, your values and your development as a human being. Rita M. DeSouza was one such person. Learning of her death on May 25 at the age of 92 made me feel a sense of deep personal loss. She was a good soul who did so much for so many. I was sorry that since i was traveling I could not attend her funeral and pay my last respects. She had been a part of my life since High School as the Principal of St. Lawrence’s School in Karachi but our relationship did not stop there.
It has been a long time since I graduated from High School but throughout my college and university years and then as I entered professional life, Rita DeSouza was always there taking pride in whatever I achieved and guiding my development. She was the kind of educationalist who cared about her students, about the young people under her care, someone who followed their careers with a great deal of interest and took pleasure in their success and in their achievements.
A group of us who were in school together visited her regularly on her birthday, at Easter, at Christmas and New Year. She looked forward to our visits with great anticipation and often told her family and friends about this “special group of former students”. She never forgot to call us on special occasions like Eid to wish us Eid Mubarak. Whenever she saw anything about us in the newspapers or saw an interview on television, she would call and say how proud she was of what we had done and the way in which we had conducted ourselves. Her praise always meant so much because it was honest and sincere.
Rita DeSouza was a wonderful conversationalist. Each discourse with her taught you something new but she was also a great listener (a quality very few have). We talked to her about everything – our careers, our personal lives, our problems, our challenges, our successes, our failures. And the advice she gave very often helped us look at things from a different perspective and discover new solutions.
Rita DeSouza was an amazing human being. She was a great teacher, an efficient administrator, a role model for many, a humanist, a caring and loving person and a mentor and guide. She cared so much about this country and never really wanted to live anywhere else even though she was not short of options. Of late she had been very concerned about the political and societal changes taking place around us. She was also concerned about the quality of education and tried to do whatever she could to advise and work with various groups to improve the standards. She was a strong member of the community and an active participant. She was often seen visiting people who were old and sick or who needed attention.
I remember when I last visited her she was bedridden but still mentally alert. Her kidneys were giving up. The doctors had advised that she undergo dialysis but she had refused. She was adamant that she had lived a very full life and wanted to leave this world with dignity and grace and not tied to a machine. Those of us who knew her and loved her respected her decision.
Rita DeSouza had always been a fighter, a very strong human being. She had overcome a number of medical problems but had remained active and independent even after her husband Cyril’s demise. She wanted to die the way she had lived – with courage and grace. She didn’t want to linger and I am so glad she got her wish. We will of course miss her but the memories will sustain us and she will no doubt continue to live through the many young people whose lives she guided and whose values and ethics are strong because of her.
Farewell Mrs. DeSouza! You will always be remembered. You were a wonderful role model, a tremendous mentor and a great friend to all who knew you. You will continue to live in our memory and in our hearts. Rest in Peace. God has a special place in heaven for people like you.
Article in Tribune: http://tribune.com.pk/story/384730/transitions-adios-rita-de-souza-rest-in-peace/
Many of us have often had heated conversations about the difference between education and learning; about the dire need for making education a fun experience; about bringing learning to life instead of letting it lie between the pages of a book. With multimedia, interactive learning and initiatives like the Khan Academy, this is indeed beginning to happen in some small way – probably not fast enough or widely enough – but nonetheless it is happening and that’s wonderful to see.
Another area of concern for many of us has been the lack of an attempt on the part of government and educationalists to focus on creating a passion and interest for science and technology amongst the young in our country. This is of course not restricted to Pakistan. All over the world there is concern that not enough young people (especially young girls) are opting for the sciences.
It was therefore a pleasure to visit the Robotics Labs in Karachi and see the kind of things they are involved in. The Robotics Lab is a high tech initiative targeted
towards the young generation of Pakistan who want to develop a passion for Science. At the lab the kids have the opportunity and resources to learn cutting edge technologies in Robotics, Programming, iPad Game Development, 3D Scanning, 3D Modeling, 3D Printing and many more through interesting workshops held throughout the year. The children get to use the state-of-the-art equipment including laptops, robotics kits and high-end software. The modern, secure, air-conditioned facility offers an un-interrupted power supply and has high speed access to the Internet.
The vision of the Robotics Labs, according to co-founders Afaque Ahmed and Yasin Altaf, is to create a learning environment for children where they can come, learn and get exposure to “practical science”. With the world changing at a fast pace and technology taking over literally all aspects of our lives, it is imperative that our children are taught and given such hands-on opportunities from an early age. They are also able to determine which areas are of particular interest to them so that when they are choosing a discipline in high school or college level, they are aware of the opportunities in science and technology that are open to them.
In order to create awareness amongst students and parents in Karachi, the Robotics Lab has been hosting field trips for schools in which the students are given hands-on experience of Robotics. Besides this, most of the courses are also offered in after school workshops and in summer/winter camps. The Robotics field trips have been very popular amongst both children and their teachers.
Our objective is to create a ‘National Impact’ through Robotics education and equip the young generation with the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st century, say the founders of the lab. If you have a child or a neice or nephew or a younger brother or sister who is free this summer, it is worth looking at enrolling them into the summer camp. You will be surprised at how much they learn and how excited they get about the potential use of science and technology in the real world.