Munira Premji

Photo by Chris A. Hughes

Yesterday, the media was buzzing with news about the long-awaited launch of the new Blackberry.  Last year, Blackberry-maker RIM made a strategic decision not to rush into market with an incomplete product, but to slow down.  Slow down, and make sure the final product would work well and last a long time.  They were criticized for delaying the launch, but they were resolute in their decision.

Monday’s Globe and Mail Editorial applauded them for this: 

In a world where customers and stock markets are relentless in their demand for constant innovation, RIM has done something strikingly original: It has taken its time.

In a similar vein, I was thinking that our experience in the last few months has been similar to that of Blackberry’s.  Since Munira was diagnosed with multiple myeloma almost a year ago (Feb. 3rd, 2012 to be exact), we have been focused on fixing her (with chemotherapy and stem cell transplants) and relaunching the brand new, cancer-free… Munira, version 2.0.

Originally, the plan was to have her complete her chemotherapy and stem cell transplants within six months.  However, due to the additional diagnosis of lymphoma, that plan had to be set aside until the lymphoma was put into remission, which it was in July.  So, it was with great anticipation that we came back from a much-needed one week vacation to Florida to begin treatments for the multiple myeloma.

Except, there were further delays.  The stem cell collection process did not work completely, despite nine days of daily trips to the hospital, and numerous neupogen injections.  Thankfully, Mozibil, Sanofi’s wonder drug, came to the rescue and, on December 10th and 11th, 2012, we were able to collect enough stem cells for multiple transplants, if necessary.  Now, the waiting game began.

The stem cell transplant unit at The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre was extremely busy, and patients who were expected to be discharged over the Christmas holidays became sick, and the waiting list grew.  We were told the wait was anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks.  Munira’s weekly chemotherapy treatments were restarted on January 12th as her oncologist, Dr. Rodger Tiedemann, did not want her to go without treatment while she waited for a transplant bed to become available. 

Since that time, however, we started to notice that some of the symptoms of the lymphoma (such as night sweats) were coming back.  Out of caution, a CT scan was done of all the lymph nodes.  We were told earlier this week that the results were negative for any lymphoma (whew!).

So, yesterday, with anticipation (again!), we sat down with Dr. Tiedemann and waited for him to say, “pack your bags, you are all set to be admitted for the stem cell transplant ”.  Instead, he expressed concern over the night sweats and asked if we would consider delaying the transplant (again!) until we definitively ruled out any recurrence of lymphoma.  This necessitated yet another bone marrow aspiration and biopsy yesterday (the seventh one in one year!) and a two week wait for the results.

On the one hand, we had waited so long.   Munira had been through too many painful biopsies – and we were so close to the transplant.  We just wanted to get it over with and, you know, get on with life.

On the other hand, like Blackberry’s stakeholders, we had to make the tough decision to take the time and do it right.  Dr. Tiedemann left it up to us to make the decision.  After thinking about it for a few minutes, we agreed that an additional two or three week delay in the transplant process was, in the scheme of things, a relatively short period of time.  We decided to slow down and do it right.

So, over the next two weeks, Munira has decided to live life even more fully (her weekly chemotherapy will continue).  Last week, we went to 5th Elementt, an Indian fusion restaurant on Queen St. West for her birthday.   The food was so delicious (try the lamb shank!) that she invited the Chief Culinary Officer (i.e. the Chef) home to teach her how to cook new Indian dishes.  We have also both joined GoodLife Fitness, to keep physically fit and strong for the three-week long hospital stay and the two to three month long recovery period at home which will follow the transplant.

Toronto-20130130-PMH Myeloma ClinicIn keeping with the Blackberry theme, since she will have lots of time on her hands over the next few months, I’ve reserved for her the new Blackberry Z10, which goes on sale on Tuesday, February 5th.  (We are # 42 on the Rogers list !).   Munira is an iPad and iPod junkie (see picture on the right from the hospital yesterday), so it will be interesting to see if her alliances change with the new Blackberry Z10.

– Nagib


  • Dilshad Nathoo , February 11, 2013

    Just browsing through your blog page as I often do when I have a moment and I can’t believe I missed this blog.
    What a wonderful and imaginative comparison you have made Mukhisaheb. From a true “industrialist” (if that can describe you?), your thought process is admired as how YOU are bringing your own way of creating such a positive outlook for Munira Mukhiani.
    Hey, I say whatever works to bring positive vibes, thoughts, images, ideas, messages, etc. to make Ms. Muni back to normal, better than before, new Muni version 2.0 or Ms. Universe of the Future. We’ll take whatever version God will bring to us!!! Ameen.
    So did you manage to get the Z10 version? For a family who surrounds themselves in little miracles, I wouldn’t be so surprised??? (Even being 45th on the list)!!

    Talk soon,

  • Patti Kurgan , February 3, 2013

    Terrific update, Nagib – such a wise way of looking at the situation, in terms of waiting to do things the right way. Patience is one of the virtues that few people have, especially in this day and age, but I can see you and Munira have developed this skill. I, too, would like to see Munira put this treatment regime behind her, but what a great example the two of you have set at really enjoying the present. I heard about the Indian Food – sounds yummy! All my love to you both – Patti Kurgan.

  • Shehnaaz Mohamed , February 1, 2013

    I look forward to the blogs because they always ring true to what’s going on with the rest of us.
    It’s my day off and I felt guilty for watching Justin Bieber’s utube videos he had made which got him the attention. There was a lot that needed to get done and I actually drifted into Justin’s utube posts from watching medical lectures…don’t ask me how.
    Bottom line I realized I need to take it easy and have fun sometimes instead of doing tasks that always have a goal.
    Enjoyed reading your blog…..and good luck with making her change her alliance, I think once you are hooked to Apple you are hooked. But I was thinking this is probably Munira version 5.0. You guys have gone through an incredible journey and the resilience you have shown is truly admirable…the rest of us are hanging our heads in shame.
    Thank you for sharing your lives with us.

    Shenaz Dhanani ( correct spelling is actually Shehnaaz Mohamed)

  • Anonymous , February 1, 2013

    It takes a lot of courage, faith & commitment to slow down, think and do the right thing…. Your family inspires us all…

    P.S. A very interesting read on “the Practice of Slowing Down” by Phil Powers:
    I read it a while ago but keep revisiting it ever so often…


  • Ashif , February 1, 2013

    I personally love Munira 1.0, but Munira 2.0 will be much more stronger, and will continue to inspire us all. God bless you and your family. Ameen!

  • Lucy , February 1, 2013

    Enjoy Munira. May God bless you both, it takes big strides!. Kudos to the pair and yes, have fun for the next few waiting weeks.

  • Anonymous , January 31, 2013

    I remember this saying “behind every man’s success, there is a woman”. This time, revived evolution
    “behind every woman’s strength, there is a caring husband/spouse/partner who keeps her up and running despite the waves, volcanoes and distractions from outside” so that she does not fall apart.
    (I hope i said it right)


  • Julie Nunes , January 31, 2013

    Here’s to Munira 2.0!! But I always loved the original 🙂

  • Lynda Cavanagh , January 31, 2013

    i can’t believe all that you and your family have gone through.You faith is an inspiration. i can only hope and pray that this chapter in Munira’s life will be a memory soon and she will be able to concentrate on a new beginning. God bless all of you.
    PS. What a beautiful photo of you and Munira. You are constantly in our thoughts and prayers.
    Lynda and Dave

  • Anny Nasser , January 31, 2013

    You are both amazing and I remain in awe of your take on life. Sending you both our love! Iqbal and Anny

  • Anonymous , January 31, 2013

    You have an amazing wife!! she is out of this world and my inspiration. Inshallah everything will be good soon! Ameen!!
    Saira Nasirdin!

    • Nagib Premji , January 31, 2013

      If “Saira says”, then everything will be good soon 🙂

  • snensi , January 31, 2013

    love the fun and positive parallels…

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