Munira Premji

The past couple of weeks have been exciting — and overwhelming — as we learn about the stem cell mobilization, collection and transplant process which takes place this month.  There is a lot of information to take in, people to learn from, questions to ask, countless medications to take, tests to undergo, aggressive chemotherapy to mobilize the cells, neupogen injections to stimulate stem cells, the Quinton and Hickman lines to be surgically inserted into my neck and chest, respectively, etc. etc.

It is a lot to digest and it all started on Monday!  I went to the hospital feeling quite nervous and discouraged about the aggressive chemotherapy that they would administer and the side effects from it (I was warned that it would not be pretty — I would be quite sick for two or three days).  I asked for a bed (instead of a chair) and if my favorite nurse, Manny, was available to look after me.  As we gingerly made our way to Orange Pod, No. 23, we passed occupied chemo rooms – alas, no bed 🙁  However, as we rounded the corner, we were greeted with a familiar ray of sunshine:  Manny!

As soon as Manny saw us, he opened his arms to give Nagib, Sabrina and me a giant bear hug.  He told us how excited he was that I was starting the stem cell process to get back to full strength, how lucky I was to be selected for the stem cell transplant (because not everyone is, depending on the severity of their condition) and how today was the first day of the rest of my life.   Suddenly, my paradigm shifted and I went from being overwhelmed to being ecstatic.

It took an incredible nurse to offer a different perspective and show me an alternate way of looking at this situation.  While it was a long day at the hospital, Manny provided phenomenal, extraordinary care, while making us laugh with his stories and funny quips!

He also gave me a beautiful, silver bracelet that said,  “Once you CHOOSE HOPE, anything is possible”.  Curiously, I had been reflecting on the word “hope” for a few days and had discovered something profound.  As we go through life, there are many challenges for each one of us.  There may be challenges at work and in relationships.  There may be questions about life and spirituality.  There may be concerns about family and children.  Health issues can take up a lot of our time and effort.

We each find different ways to deal with these challenges.  It could be having a positive attitude, finding opportunities in difficult situations, turning to prayer, talking to a friend to get another perspective, working through the issue at hand, making choices about where to spend our money and energy, making decisions – good or bad.  For me, the key that holds it all together is HOPE.

When there is hope —  even a glimmer of it, the human condition finds a way to look for answers to problems.  When there is hope, there is a sense of optimism and resourcefulness.  When there is hope, it opens us to make choices and decisions.  In the absence of hope, there is nothing to look forward to and giving up — and giving in — becomes the natural order of the day.  I have experienced this a couple of times in my journey with cancer.  So I start each morning, giving thanks for the gift of another day and consciously vow to never give up hope.  Realistically, things will turn out according to God’s will.

For me, choosing hope significantly increases one’s chances of success and happiness.  So, thank you, Manny!

Munira and Manny Martinez


Update: April 6, 2016:

The phrase “Once you choose hope, anything is possible” is credited to the Man of Steel himself, Christopher Reeve (aka Superman).

I have co-opted it to “When You Choose Hope, Anything is Possible” because, as I have found out, you may need to choose hope over despair more than once in your lifetime.



  • […] "Munira's Journey", a 55-minute film about my first battle with cancer. Also see this blog post: "Once You Choose Hope, Anything is Possible" to find out more about the origins of the […]

  • Anonymous , October 5, 2012

    Life is meaningless only if we allow it to be. Each of us has the power to give life meaning, to make
    our time and our bodies and our words into instruments of love and hope.”

    – Tom Head
    Norman Cousins

    “When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
    – AnonymousHope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

    – Vaclav Havel

    Hope you like the above quotes and Mukhianimaa, take it easy too, !

    Worries will take away all your energy, take each day at a time ,
    if you break up the emotions day by day , its easier I think than thinking what will happen and do I have 10 years , 20 years etc?
    We love you ,


  • Ahmad , October 5, 2012

    So true, with hope, anything is possible…
    As Andy D writes in his letter to Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy Dufresne.”

  • Anonymous , October 4, 2012

    Cheers to Manny:)

  • Anonymous , October 4, 2012

    Allah bless you guys.

  • Anonymous , October 4, 2012

    Thank you Munira, and Manny as well. I choose hope, too. All my love, Patti.

  • Anonymous , October 4, 2012

    Thank you for asking about the boys, they are both fine. Jamil started at UFT this September and Imran is in grade 11, enjoying playing the only child, and milking it.

    Even though i’m a critical nurse, Im learning more from your blog re cancer, there is so much invested in and it’s impressive to see how far we have come.

    I looked at the topic “hope” and jumped on it, couldn’t wait to see what your thoughts were…and you are so right. The human spirit is capable of leaps and bounds when infused with hope, it produces people with your attitude, which infects the rest of us and elevates us with optimism.

    I was also glad to read about Manny. I think Manny is really special. Healing comes not only from medications but from people like him who really understand what nursing is about and go above and beyond. They do it not for accolades or to be looked up to, but they guard and watch you like a hawk knowing what the blood work means, what the vital signs mean and more importantly to hold your hand as you go through some rough patches, cheering you on, reminding you have it in you to survive this.

    Take care, love and hugs,

    Shehnaaz and Karim Dhanani.

  • Anonymous , October 4, 2012

    Saira Says: ( wanted to bring a smile to your face lol)

    Munira you are an amazing person, you are out of this world! You are strong, beautiful, level headed and extremely positive and optimistic, I love this quality about you. You look adorable as usual. Manny has been sent to you as an Angel! Mowla cannot be everywhere so he sends someone in his place. You will be perfectly alright! Ameen!

  • Anonymous , October 4, 2012

    You look simply beautiful Munira. You lift me up with your gentle but powerful voice, and make me a true believer of anything that you say. When I read you, everything that’s complicated around me, seems frivolous, unbearable seems trivial, and better yet, impossible seems hopeful. You put things in perspective that lightens up and makes things simpler.
    In this picture with Manny, you are wearing that inspiring “Blessed-to have-you-in-my-life!” look. If you could see me now, I am mirroring that same look. I am awed at your strength, courage, and values that you live by. I am so blessed to have you in my life. Keep writing Munira and I am a true believer of your words.
    Love you very much.

  • Dilshad Nathoo , October 4, 2012

    Hey Beautiful….you look absolutely gorgeous. This “cancer thing” has miraculously made you look 20 years younger!! Maybe its all that “hope” you’re carrying around with you!! You GO MANNY!!! It takes special people, angels, in this world that can just naturally spark that light of life in people’s lives. You’ve found a special angel, God’s gift to you, who is Manny that can lift your spirits as you go through this phase. What a blessing it is that you are surrounded by so many Mannys, so many angels, in different aspects of your life, being by you through different experiences while you walk through this journey. Only a special lady can see that and appreciate that!! May you have many many more angels from God who cross your path! Ameen.
    With lots of love,
    The Nathoos

  • Ashif , October 3, 2012

    Muni Bai,

    Thank you for writing this because you give me hope and how to be positive.
    Love, Ashif

  • Alnasir Samji , October 3, 2012

    Always thinking of you and praying for you. Nimet and Alnasir Samji

  • Zara , October 3, 2012

    Muni, you look beautiful! MashAllah! Love you soooooo much.

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