If there is anything stronger than cancer, then it’s self-will.
One inspiring example of a cancer survivor is Durriya Kapasi. A lady, who stands strong, despite having fought the devastating disease, all thanks to her positive attitude, her fighting spirit, and a supportive family.
Although, cancer did temporarily put a halt to Durriya’s dreams, but it was certainly not going to stop her.
Right after recovering from her ailment, and given a second chance to life, Durriya decided to pursue her dream of becoming a published author, and now as we speak, she is almost there. Her book, Once Upon a Genie is soon to release in March 2017.
SWEA conducted a heart-to-heart interview with Durriya to know more about her journey as a cancer survivor, and to know more about her book, Once Upon a Genie.
Hello Durriya, we came across your story through a news article feature, and would love to know more about you. Firstly, tell us a little about yourself, and your fight with cancer.
Durriya Kapasi: Hello! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be featured on your blog, and believing that I’m good enough to be in the category of Super Women of East Africa.
I’m 29, born and brought up in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania, married in Udaipur, India. I started my writing career on Wattpad.com, a free online portal for storytelling.
I wrote my first book in 2012, a human vampire love story. I wrote it as a time pass on my small phone Samsung Galaxy Y. I noticed with my frequent updates my story was ranking in the top 10 hotlist on Wattpad. That’s when the author inside me woke up. My second book, ‘Lydia the Pet Communicator’ got mentioned in DNA Newspaper, Mumbai and a magazine in Chennai. Lydia also became a finalist of Watty Awards 2013.
With all the self-confidence, I decided to write the third book for publishing (as paperback). I wrote a few chapters too. But here came a stop to my life.
My health started to go down, starting with sinus and indigestion of food. Gradually, a swollen lymph node was noticed on my neck, and then it spread all around my body. After a year of wasting myself in alternative medicine and making things worse, I was rushed to have my treatment at Apollo Hospital Ahmedabad.
The doctors informed my husband that I have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer- stage 3, after doing all the necessary examinations. Although I was very nervous, I knew I could do it because ‘giving up’ for me was the word used by cowards. So I decided to fight again, with more power.
During chemotherapy, I didn’t want to let go of my dreams of being a published author so I tried writing, but I always ended up with a blank page, no words appeared to seem right.
As time went on, I lost my ability to think clearly, to speak or hear properly all due to chemotherapy. I usually ended up playing candy crush and scrolling on Facebook to change my mind and to fight off the anxiety.
When I would be tired of looking at my phone’s screen, I would close my eyes and pray to God, I believe I was answered every time. My medical reports always showed improvement, and that the treatment was working miraculously on me.
Who or what became your biggest source of support during your recovery stage?
Durriya Kapasi: Everyone around me was so amazed to see my positivity, though my husband was the real person to witness my pain and tears, and became my biggest support. He left his work to take care of me, and walked every step with me during my battle like it was his.
I fought 12 rounds of battle in six months– of 12 doses of chemotherapy. My husband told me, “See you are a boxer, a fighter, you will have scars but you will only be a winner if you come out of it. Go to the boxing ring, fight very round and come out as a star. You know you can do it.”
It kept me together, but on the last round, 11-12, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I was too exhausted for anything, I could barely walk around. That’s when my dad called me from Dar-es-salaam and said a funny phrase, “When you’ve eaten the whole cow and burped, why do you leave the tail?”
With the strong faith in God, and after getting all the push from my family, I did it. I came out as a winner.
A year after completing my treatment and getting fully cured, my body started picking up bit by bit. I took proper care of my diet, exercise and remembered to stay happy. I followed my doctor’s instructions obediently throughout. The key to win a battle like cancer is: Mind over body.
How has life, and your perspective of life changed after recovering from cancer?
Durriya Kapasi: I took cancer as lesson towards life, for every time I was only thankless before. I learnt how every breath of air was beautiful, how I could still walk around and feel the nature around me. Sometimes I would just look out of the window to hear the birds chirping and feel the rays of sun on my skin to make myself happy.
How did you find the motivation to complete your third book, Once Upon a Genie?
Durriya Kapasi: One day while sitting idle, I thought about my dreams. How could I not write? What if I lose the flow and not write the same way again? So I started re-writing my incomplete work, my third book.
I felt a sudden maturity in my writing, and then the person inside me. My perspective had changed, my way of thinking and seeing the world was different. I realized how it is to have a second chance at life. I was born again as a better person.
God gave me everything far better. He gave me a better thinking ability, better senses, and a very good health. I’m much stronger in every aspect now. I’m moving on in life much faster than I thought.
The best part of all, I completed my book confidently and send it to the publishers. And in my just one attempt, I got a ‘yes’ from the publishing house, Half Baked Beans. My book “Once Upon A Genie.” will be releasing in March 2017, next month.
What is the book about?
Durriya Kapasi: Once upon a Genie is an extraordinary love story of a girl and a handsome genie. The story takes you to the undiscovered land of Djinns, bonding between the Jinn and his love, and how their lives changed.
Any message for those who are fighting fatal diseases like cancer, or witnessing their loved ones battling them?
Durriya Kapasi: Never give up on your dreams. Nothing is impossible if you have made your mind to do it.
Any contact details or personal blog links you’d like to share with the Super Women of East Africa?
Durriya Kapasi: For more updates, you can follow me on https://www.facebook.com/durriyakapasi/