Munira Premji

Many years ago, when Nagib and I were shopping (what else?) in a local market in Mexico City, we were introduced to “worry dolls”.  These are small and colourful dolls that, according to folklore, symbolically remove worries.  The concept is that if you cannot sleep because you are worried, you can express your worries to a doll and put the dolls under the pillow.  Then you can sleep peacefully and the dolls would carry your worries.

I never used the worry dolls because I never needed to, and there was something about burdening little dolls that did not work for me.  This past year, however, I have found that worrying shows up in my mind and brain like an uninvited guest.  I find it annoying and quite unconstructive.  I can see how it robs me of today’s strength.  And often, I find that all my worrying is unnecessary because things get resolved as they will — whether I worried or not.  Slowly, I have found a solution that works for me.

It started with a friend who told me about her “God’s Box”.  This is a small, red box that she has had for the past 4 years.  Each time she feels overwhelmed or needs to ask for help, she will write down her anxiety, worry, request or insecurities and put it in the box for God.  She tells me that the sheer act of writing her worries helps her unburden whatever she is feeling and sometimes gives her clarity.  Periodically, she will go through her “God’s Box” and has found that every single worry she has put in her box has been resolved; some within a day, some in a month; some in a year.  For her, this is a testament of faith, of knowing that there is a higher presence and trusting that power; of knowing that she is not alone.

I am inspired by my friend’s story and have created my own version of “God’s Box.”  Each night, I talk to God about 4 things: 

– Things I am grateful for that day

– People in my thoughts

– Magical moments

– Stuff I need God’s help with. 

This week for instance, amongst other things, I expressed my gratitude for the New York Times insert in the Toronto Star that I look forward to reading every Sunday.  I prayed for people I know who are ill and two people I know who passed away this week.  For magical moments, I remembered the party we hosted on the weekend where we were surrounded by people we love, and for a wonderful lunch at a friend’s home.  I asked for God’s help as I restart my chemo treatment this week. 

It all took 10 minutes, and I cannot think of a better way to end the day.  Its my sacred time with God and it is a date I choose to keep!

– Munira


  • Carmela , January 23, 2013

    Dear Munira,
    I have just come accross this page by accident reading about your daughter’s New Beginning blog. I knew you had been diagnosed earlier last year, but was unaware of what and how you were doing. I want to thank you first for sharing this experience with all of us. You’re an amazing woman who brought so much into my life the first time I met you during our CTI journey. As for the “worry” dolls….my daughter bought me a set when I had surgery about 10 years ago and I recently found them. Very powerful little dolls I must say….my journey has taken me on my paths and I am very grateful that I met you on one of those paths.

    You will survive and you will move forward through this path on to another – I pray that all works well for you and you quickly and painlessly get through this next phase.

    I would love to meet up for a coffee or tea or maybe lunch if you are available and up to it.. Let me know…

    Much love

  • Shamira and Karim , January 13, 2013

    Dearest Muni,
    You WILL survive. You have a great and loving family to support you and because you are you and have always been there for all of us as we went through challenging times. Muni, sometimes you wonder why God tests you in this way and you wonder why he picked you and not someone else. You wonder whether you did something wrong in this life or the previous life and this is your penance. I felt this way when Karim had his stroke on Dec 9, 2009-three years ago. However, as you go through your journey you realize that there are so many things to be thankful for in life and that you have to keep on moving forward. You have supported Karim and me through our challenges and now please know that we are there for Naqib and you. You are in our prayers as you go through this phase. As I said to you earlier, I am five minutes away from PMH and am happy just to come anytime. With the biggest and warmest bear hug my friend. Y

    • Premji Family , January 16, 2013

      Hi Shamira – – You are a wise woman! I will take you up on your offer to visit – promise! My chemo is currently scheduled for Fridays until such time that a bed is available for me for the transplant. This week has been a bit tough – effects of chemo and soreness from the hichman line surgey. Ouch! So I appreciate your affirmation that I WILL survive. I needed to hear that….

  • Anonymous , January 11, 2013

    Hi Munira,
    You are a true inspiration and full of ideas, I think I should also start my own god’s box! – I want to wish you the best and my prayers go with you during your chemo. You somehow manage to make me think about my petty complaints and focus on what’s truely important – the party at your place is always fun and warm and we would like to thank you for including us in this tradition every year!
    Rose, Mebs and Zoe

    • Premji Family , January 16, 2013

      Ya Ali Rose, Mebs and Zoe – – It was so fun to spend some dedicated time with you! Would love to hear about your experiences with your own God’s Box. Take good care, Munira

  • Mina -Vancouver , January 10, 2013

    Hi Munira

    When I read your blog it gave me an affirmation as I was a born worrier and ever since my diagnosis with cancer, etc, I have been listening to couple of audios religiously every morning after my prayers and these are by Brian L Weiss, one is called Eliminating Stress and Finding Inner Peace and the other is Meditation to inner Peace, Love and Joy, they are approximately 45 minutes in all. Mixture of visualization and Imaginery guidance. In general, he talks about worry, fear, anxiety, peace,stress and healing your body and mind, getting rid of anger and frustrating. Ever since, I have learnt and said to myself,is it going to change anything by worrying or getting stressed and if my answer is NO, I put it in the garbage, over and done with and walk away.

    • Premji Family , January 16, 2013

      Hi Mina — Thank you so much for sharing your story of how you heal your body and mind. What cancer were you diagnosed with? Where are you in your cancer journey? I will definitely pick up the audios you recommended. I listen to “Healing with the Angels” and a Medidation audio by Doreen Virtue. Love,Munira

    • Mina -Vancouver , January 22, 2013

      I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and of course removed all the lymph nodes, metasized to certain areas on my spine on March 15th 2011. Had a bilateral mastectomy, being as always practical, did not want to come back in the future to have the second breast removed as I was told it was aggressive. In general, my surgeon had a very negative attitude, me being always positive and a fighter. Two weeks after surgery, I started losing my mobility and as I had an appointment with him, I was in a wheel chair. His answer to me was, I am sorry I cannot to anything more for you, referred me to the cancer agency in Surrey. There they assessed me and decided to give me 5 treatment of radiation on my back. That is all they gave me, and within a few weeks I was walking again. They then put me on Hormone Therapy and my tumor count was going down and at one time it was 5.8.

      But all the time I kept on asking and confronting my Oncologist, how come I have not had any chemotherapy? As I am very pro active and always looking and reading and checking up. His answer to me was well the Hormone Therapy is doing the job fine.

      Unfortunately, August 2012, , my health took a turn and tumor count went high, higher than when I was first diagnosed and as there were some lesions in my liver,on my skull, pelvic and hip, they decided to give me Chemotherapy. I am having my last session today, 6th.

      I have had to have two lots of blood transfusion and having another one on this Friday.

      It was during my second blood transfusion, I got talking to couple of wonderful nurses and they were asking my when did I have my surgery and how come I was having chemotherapy now and not previously. When I told them, what the Dr had said, that it was incurable, etc. They said that is why because once it is metasized to the bones, they don’t have much hope, they assume you are going to kick the bucket within a few months. Isn’t that something. I have been very angry about the whole situation and have round about confronted the issue with the Dr, and he has come back with the same answer, the hormone therapy was working with you. I don’t want to fall out with the Drs, but I do keep on making a point every time I see them. Like was I a much stronger person in 2011 and could have had chemotherapy then, all my organs were fine, etc.

      I also keep on saying that Cancer is a word, not a death sentence and that is how we, as an individual perceive it. I told them to take the IN out of it as it is curable, they said I was being very optimistic

      What they don’t like is because I walk in with my reports and want to discuss with them, etc. as I have already discussed it previously with a cousin Dr of mine,you see they don’t like when you confront them. All in all, I have had a fight on my hands with these so called medical professionals, They take an oath when they become Drs to try and save lives and do the best they can, could have fooled me!!!

      I am just waiting for this last session and then on the road to recovery, inshallah , and I know I will make it through, just a small journey got diverted and re routed and back on track now.and prove these Drs wrong, they cannot write me off just like that.

      I am planning to go and see the Chief Oncologist and put my case forward when the time is right.

      By the way, I think we know a mutual person, Nazir Premji in Vancouver, he has a shop.

      Meantime, you take care and God Bless

      • Premji Family , January 22, 2013

        Mina – – I can tell that you are a fighter and a woman of strength and spirit. You will so pull through this. I am confident. I am glad that you are taking charge of your health and your life. Very proud of you! Munira

  • Dilshad Nathoo , January 10, 2013

    Thank you so much for that Mukhianima Munira.
    I am a true worrier and although I constantly seek God’s help (and then really apologize for overburdening him with my little problems when He has so much to deal with!), I do it in my mind. This is a fantastic idea and something I will start tonight. Thank you once again for passing on your shared wisdom! I really miss you and will take you up on an evening with lots of hugs cuddles and some funny stories!!
    I’m really praying for you for this week that you have lots of courage and strength to go through another cycle of chemo. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

    All my love,

    • Premji Family , January 16, 2013

      Hi Dilshad! You can share your burdens with God – – he has big shoulders! Chemo has been hard this week – – I’m very tired. And, while I am venting (!), the hickman line surgery is still quite painful. I am hoping the next chemo on friday is better. Love back, Munira

      • Dilshad Nathoo , January 17, 2013

        Good luck tomorrow. I’m praying so much that you have strength to tackle tomorrow’s chemo. Hoping to see you soon.

  • Anonymous , January 10, 2013

    Amazing! I got up this morning feeling sorry for myself for petty things! that I know will eventually work out. After reading your blog today I literally feel ashamed and realize how blessed we are for all that we have. Munira, I too will do what you do and will try not to worry and will accept all the Trials and Tribulations that come my way with an open mind and hope. Lots of Hugs your way. I will be praying for you. Saira!

    • Premji Family , January 16, 2013

      You always share such insightful comments Saira! I have really come to realize how much energy worry takes – I’m not doing it anymore! Love, Munira

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