Munira Premji

Nagib & Munira Premji

Toronto, December 24, 2015.  Complex.  Complicated.  Unique.  If I had a dollar for every time I have heard these 3 words in the last month…

Every doctor and health professional I have seen has uttered these words several times as they review my case, examine me, discuss treatment options and share their concerns.  3 cancers within 3.5 years is rather unusual, particularly when there is no history of cancer in my immediate family.

This past Friday, we had a meeting with a Medical Oncologist at North York General Hospital, Dr. Danny Robson.  Curly, disheveled hair with an inquisitive demeanor, Dr. Robson quickly digested my medical history, cutting through the noise and focusing on the facts of my current situation.

We sat in the sterile hospital room, anxious to hear the results, clinging on to every word.   For any cancer patient, the worst word in the English language is “metastasis”.  It means that the cancer has spread from the initial site to another part of the body, making it nearly impossible to treat.  We were hoping that this was not the case for me.  Because if it was, it would be brutal news to accept.

Dr. Robson began: The bone scan showed regular degeneration consistent with the presence of multiple myeloma (which we expected).  The CT scan showed that the cancer had not spread to any other part of the body (beyond the one or two lymph nodes in my underarm). When we got this news, Shayne, Sabrina, Nagib and I took a collective sigh of relief — until then, we had not realized that we were holding our breath.

He then proposed a treatment plan. If I were not complex, complicated and unique, the plan would be 4 months of chemotherapy, a break for a month, surgery to remove the lump and some lymph nodes, followed by radiation – a “typical” approach for a diagnosis of early stage breast cancer.

Dr. Robson, however, expressed concern that chemotherapy would wear down my bone marrow and compromise my ability to deal with the multiple myeloma, including jeopardizing the second stem cell transplant that I will eventually need when the myeloma comes back.

In his view, I should have the surgery first and then, based on the outcome of the surgery, the medical team will determine the need, benefit and downstream implications of additional treatments, such as hormone therapy, radiation and, if necessary, chemotherapy. Dr. Tiedemann, with the support of the Breast Cancer team at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, is weighing in on the decision making process (a second opinion of sorts), which gives me a lot of comfort.  We hope to confirm the plan and begin prepping for treatment at my next appointment on December 29th at North York General Hospital.

As the Premji clan debriefed the hospital visit over breakfast and discussed our thoughts and fears openly, Sabrina equated my situation over the past few years to the weather system: most days have been delightfully sunny; others, cloudy with scattered showers. And even when we have been in the trenches, battling the thundershowers, the sun always found a way to peek through and clear the rain. My latest diagnosis of breast cancer means a rainstorm is in the forecast. Rather than fighting it or complaining about it, we’re all going to pull up our rain boots, get out our umbrellas and face the storm…and knowing us, we’ll probably splash in a few puddles and sing in the rain along the way! Because we know, the sun will come soon. It always does.

Merry Christmas everybody!  Wishing you a very happy and extremely healthy holiday season.



  • MW , December 30, 2015

    We admire your strength, courage and attitude.
    We also know how it feels when you are waiting for the results of the tests.
    IN Farida’s case it was grade one so they did the lumpactomy first and then decided to give her radiation only. (18 sessions) it has been eight years.
    God bless.

  • Anonymous , December 29, 2015

    Sending you so much love and light!

  • Rashida Tejani , December 28, 2015

    Amazing spirit….warm thoughts and prayers for speedy recovery 🙂

  • Anonymous , December 28, 2015

    Munira – you are an amazing survivor and your are an inspiration to all. We who complain about little things should learn from you the attitude to life and the submission to the universe for all it sends us. Our prayers are with you that you go from strength to strength, that the miracle of life is with you and that cancer can be beaten.

  • Anonymous , December 27, 2015

    My Dear Munira, remember, after every downpour, out comes the rainbow and lights up everyone’s heart with its brilliant colours! The sun comes out and the earth feels fresh and alive…this will pass and you will come out feeling stronger than before! All the very best for a happy and healthy year to come! I hope it brings you all the things you wish for….God Bless…xoxo

  • mylegacytoyou , December 25, 2015

    In my mind, I actually saw the four of you geared in boots and umbrellas, splashing in puddles and singing in the rain! What a beautiful metaphor to describe your family’s way of handling just about anything thrown your way! I am so happy to hear that everything is under Munira’s control. All my very best to a happy healthy 2016 to come!

  • Lynda & Dave Cavanagh , December 25, 2015

    We still can’t believe but are praying hard that this challenge too will be conquered. Wishing you and your family peace and hope, strength, love and laughter in the new year.
    Lynda and Dave

  • Lorraine McCallum , December 25, 2015

    Dear Munira and Nagib, my prayers and wishes of love are with you and the family. Thank you for all that you are so willing to share, and your unswerving optimism, it is a tonic to us all. xxooo

  • Suzanne Sutherland , December 25, 2015

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Sending you love and warm hugs.

  • Anonymous , December 25, 2015

    My prayers are with you. Your strength is admirable and knowing you, yes, definitely splash and jump in all the puddles along the way!

  • Andrea Harland , December 25, 2015

    i think for those that are blessed so far with good health will think of your inspirational attitude should they ever encounter a medical battle, be it cancer or any other life-altering condition. Thank you for sharing your stories. Merry Christmas to the Premji family.

  • Noor , December 25, 2015

    Munira ,
    May the rain showers be brief and may the sunshine often. May the umbrella of your amazing faith and spirit shield you from the thunderstorms.
    Walking with you in spirit on this new journey.

  • Anonymous , December 24, 2015

    Dear Munira – it’s Christmas Eve and we just sat down to relax. I am reading this and not quite sure what to say. I know we only had a short time to work together but you are one of the kindest and strongest person I have ever met. I want you to know that I will be keeping you in my prayers that God will heal you. Merry Christmas. Jackie

  • Anonymous , December 24, 2015

    Dear Munira. Keeping you and family in prayers. May you always be guided and protected. God bless, always.

    Heartfelt best wishes.

    K. Amersi –Vancouver

  • Nargis Hajee , December 24, 2015

    Dearest Mmaa Munira,
    Keep up with your positive energy and by the grace of Almighty, may your journey to recovery be successful with flying colours!!!
    Best of luck and happiness to you and your entire family.

  • abatada123 , December 24, 2015

    Today I am celebrating my birthday, my gift is the prayers to Mowla to give Premji Family strength in times of the difficulty and provide you with quick recovery. Ameen.

  • karimahabib2012 , December 24, 2015

    Dear Munira
    Wishing you and your family a very happy and positive holiday season.

    Wishing you lots of bright rainbows this holiday and for 2016!

  • Elizabeth Lancaster , December 24, 2015

    Munira in my mind you are wearing the most colourful, most effective and most brilliant rain boots in the universe. Full of light and love and the most powerful and beautiful energy ever known.

    • Munira Premji , December 24, 2015

      Dearest Elizabeth. Beautiful, beautiful words. Thank you. I see the rain boots…….

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