Tick, tick, tick, tick…….
The wall clock in Dr. Kamran’s room shows 9:45 am. Ahsan Javed, his father and mother are sitting across the doctors table. Their quite, calm and impassive faces imitate their worries and uncertainty. Dr. Kamran is busy with Javed’s final medical reports for half an hour. He neither asked anything nor told; his silence multiplies their fears and worries.
Javed is perhaps more worried than anyone else in room.
Every single minute of clock increases his pulse and heartbeat.
Six year passed but he still remembers June 14, 2003, like it was yesterday, when Dr. Kamran told his parents about his disease, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a fast-growing form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.
11-year old Javed was the only child when his parent brought him Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC) in Lahore, Pakistan. Doctors in his native city, Sialkot, some 180 kilometers away, were unable to diagnose his disease.
All stages of treatment during last six years were nothing less than a nightmare.
He still feels 3-inch long metallic needle that often punctured different parts of his body during chemotherapy and blood transfusion.
He imagines those rays crossing through his body during radiotherapy.
And more than anything, he can still recall a painful bone marrow transplant process.
Tick, tick, tick…..
It’s 10:10 am. Dr. Kamran stands up, collect all reports, and walks towards the door. “I will be right back,” he says to them and quits the room.
A deep silence prevails the room. Javed’s parents look at each other and then at Javed; but say nothing.
Indeed they have nothing to say; they‘ve to wait for doctor’s advice. They’ve done their job well and provided the best possible treatment facilities to their son. Even though all relatives discouraged them, Javed’s father, besides getting a heavy loan as salary advance from his job, sold l his inherent piece of land in his native town, while her mother sold entire jewelry box to pay for his treatment.
Javed spend most of his time in hospital during last six years. Initially, both and later on either of his parents remain with him. After 3 years, when Javed turned 14, he was familiar with hospital staff and doctors; in fact, he has many friends at hospital. Now he can come to hospital alone, when his parents have to work.
Door opens, “Dr. Kamran wants to see you in other room,” a nurse calls Javed’s father. He gets up and walks towards the door silently.
Tick… tick… tick…
Javed looks towards wall clock. It shows 10:27 am. He noticed shades of concern deepening on his mother’s face.
He remembers how his mother looked after and took care of him during last six years. He never saw a smile on her face during the entire period of his ailment. When their relative argued and tried to convince his parents to stop spending money in hospitals, he saw many time his mother howling and crying in her room.
After his second bone marrow transplant, one day his father said to his mother, “Transplant process is extremely painful. We need to discuss with doctor to decide whether to undertake a third transplant or to discontinue treatment.” Her mother was crying for next whole week. Even though Javed now had a younger brother of one year, his parent never again thought to discontinue his treatment.
“All you are doing is in vain, no one has survived blood cancer; think about your feature and stop spending your money blindly,’’ all these arguments they listen around from their friends and family members, but they decided to continue treatment till the end.
He also remembers the day when he returned to school after three years; none of his classmates was ready to share a desk with him. His hair was gone due to prolonged radiotherapy. His classmates were afraid to share his disease if they shared a desk with a patient.
Hospital was the only place where everyone welcomed Javed always. Doctors, nurses and paramedical staff every one became friendly to him in a while.
Tick…. Tick…. Tick.
It’s 10: 40 am. Neither Javed’s father, nor Dr. Kamran is back. Javed, now a young man of 17, recalls each and every single moment of his treatment and think, “what if doctor advices more treatment.”
Train of thought was on full speed.
Whether or not, his parents once again decide to continue his treatment? Whether he would once again go through hurting chemotherapy, painful blood transfusion, breathtaking bone marrow transplant and terrible radiotherapy? Whether he would once again have to leave school for uncertain time?
Whether he would once again have faced same attitude for his relatives, friends and classmate as he faced in past or not? He wishes if doctor could come with good news. He decides even if doctor advises further treatment, he won’t continue.
Train of thoughts breaks when door opens and Dr. Kamran enters the room and Javed’s father follows him.
Javed looks at Dr. Kamran, and then at his father, he wants to listen about what the doctor has to say but he can only listen tick, tick…tick of the clock. Its 10:59 am.
Javed’s father steps towards him, holds his shoulder and embraces him with hug full of love, affection and gratitude. He listen Dr. Kamran’s voice in background, “congratulation Ahsan! You’ve beaten your enemy.”
Over his father’s shoulder, Javed looked at his mother’s eyes. He saw pearl-like tears rolling down her face. …. These were tears of joy… She was happy for his son’s victory in a six-years-long battle with ALL.
Writer’s Note: I met Ahsan Javed in January 2015 during Community College Initiative Program’s Mid-year retreat in Washington DC. After studying one at College of DuPage for one year, Javed is now serving in marketing services at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC)—the same hospital where he received his treatment.
The story was originally published at Humans of Neelum Valley