Munira Premji

January 25, 2023. Today is my birthday – the day I was born, 64 years ago. I have no idea where the time has flown and how I’m in my ‘sixties’ – I feel so much younger. I also celebrate two additional birthdays: February 15, 2013, when I had my first stem cell transplant and Munira Version 2.0 was born. And on November 22, 2019, I needed an upgrade of my operating system and had a second stem cell transplant, where a feisty Munira Version 3.0 emerged, with bells and whistles. Today, on my actual birthday, I was at the hospital in the morning for treatment. My nurse was, quite fittingly named Joy, and she greeted me with a big, loud “Happy Birthday, Girl!”. She gave me a bed (usually treatment is administered on a chair) and wrapped me with a heated blanket because “it’s your birthday and you deserve special treats.” Yesterday, when I went to the hospital to support a friend who is also going through myeloma, I reconnected with Tasha Murji, the incredible nurse who did my second stem cell transplant. As we recounted that experience, Tasha enveloped me in a tight hug and I was reminded that these small kindnesses – like a warm blanket or hug – make the world a better place.

Birthdays invariably get me thinking about the passing of time. Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer, I have had an interesting relationship with time. Eleven years ago, my prognosis was dismal with two advanced cancers ravaging my body. I was staring mortality in the face and thus began my quest to explore how I would use my remaining time on this Earth. Back then, the prognosis was 2.5 years on average before the multiple myeloma would come back.

At first, I went crazy filling up every moment in my calendar. I did not want to squander what precious time I was afforded. This worked for a little while. I felt I was productive. In fact, I was just busy going from one thing to another, not feeling entirely fulfilled. Many nights I would cry myself to sleep in exhaustion. I had lost so much in terms of confidence, identity and independence that I felt I had to prove myself by doing, doing, doing. I needed to feel that I was still worthy. As I have matured (ummm!), I now get how our worth is not based on accomplishments or social status or how much money we have, or life events. Worthiness, the concept of being enough just the way we are, comes from a place of intrinsic worth. Learning how to claim my intrinsic worth – – accepting myself wholeheartedly, without conditions, warts and all – – was one of the most powerful parts of my growth through my cancer journey.

I now have a healthier relationship with time. So much of what I do now is reflected in a book written by Oliver Burkman entitled Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals.” Burkman starts his book with a intriguing premise: “The average human lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short.” He says on average, we will live to be 80 years old, which gets you 4,000 weeks. That’s it. 4,000 weeks. That’s all that we get. And if we accept that we only have a finite number of days, it behooves us to think about how to spend this finite amount of time in a way that will make our lives as enjoyable and meaningful as possible. Burkman’s assertion is that we need to accept and embrace our mortality (what he calls life’s finitude). It is only when we do this consciously, that it frees us to focus our time and attention on the few things that actually matter. If we don’t do this consciously, then all we are doing is wasting a lot of time “clearing the decks”, doing the less important things, that take up all of our time. And as soon as we clear the decks, we know it causes them to fill up again faster. And the next day, we rinse and repeat. This is living life on auto-pilot.

To break this cycle, Burkman suggests that we accept the fact that we will never get to do everything we want to do. So let’s not beat ourselves up for not achieving everything, for holding ourselves to standards we cannot reasonably be expected to meet. Instead let’s consciously think about what matters most in our lives – whether it’s a relationship, you want to invest in or giving back to your community, or doing something that you’re passionate about, or maybe a mix of all – and intentionally make time to do this. This also applies to how you choose to spend your time at work or school.

Turning 64 today was a bit of a shock to my system. It reminded me of the adage that the days are long but the years are short; the moments fly, but the memories stay. My birthday was a perfect example of how my family went out of their way to make it extra special for me. Nagib treated me to the magical performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a gift that will live in my memory for a very long time. Sabrina, Afzal and Amaal braved the weather so we could spend the evening together. It took them 2 hours to make the usually 20-minute trek to our home but they never wavered in their commitment to make this happen. Even Amaal and Mos got in the act and sang “Happy Birthday” to me (yes actually!).

Mos and Amaal singing Happy Birthday

I am feeling loved and supported for the choices that my family made today and it doesn’t get any better than this. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how old you are or what stage of life you’re in – we could all benefit from reflecting on our finitude and asking ourselves how we will choose to spend our time, because you can’t get everything done. It is the choice we make every moment that determines the quality of our lives. So, what choices will you make for your one precious and wonderful life?


  • Anonymous , February 7, 2023

    A very Happy belated birthday Munira. Hope you are getting better each day. You are an amazing woman and an inspiration to this world. I have shared your journey with one of my friends who is in the middle of a different therapy.
    Wishing you continued good health and happiness.
    You will forever be in my prayers.
    Love and prayers
    Sully and Mohamed Murji
    (Tasha’s mother-in-law!)

    • Munira Premji , February 11, 2023

      I am so thrilled to meet you both virtually. Tasha has been instrumental in my treatment and healing, and is making a huge difference to so many people. I have had the privilege of seeing her in action and know how much she is loved by her patients. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I am feeling optimistic and hopeful with the new treatment. Your prayers mean the world to me…..

  • Rashida Tejani , January 30, 2023

    So proud of you… are Unstoppable..keep it up.
    Lots of Love and Blessings from Richmond BC

    • Munira Premji , February 2, 2023

      Rashida – I feel your love all the way from Richmond BC. Today’s been a bit of a tough day for me and your word unstoppable enabled me to bounce back. Shukhar.

  • Anonymous , January 29, 2023

    Happy birthday Munira! Wishing you good health and many more trips around the sun!

  • Munira Premji , January 28, 2023

    i so love your beautiful message and prayers

  • Patti Kurgan , January 27, 2023

    Happy Birthday, Munira! I loved the video of Mos and Amal, and thanks for sharing the lessons you have learned on your Life journey so far! Hugs!

    • Munira Premji , January 28, 2023

      Thank you so much for your birthday wishes and for making the time to read the blog. i always look forward to your comments Patti!

  • Chantal Roy , January 26, 2023

    Dear Munira, your posts often make us reflect and grow personally. This one is no exception. You are a wonderful and admirable woman!

    • Munira Premji , January 28, 2023

      I so love hearing from you Chantal! thank you so much for your encouragement and love!

  • Hafeez Pisani , January 26, 2023

    Happy Birthday Munira! You are truly an inspiration and I, amongst many others, are grateful that you were born on this day 64 years ago!
    May you continue to be an inspiration to so many of us. Wishing you many amazing and special years ahead.

    • Munira Premji , January 28, 2023

      What a beautiful message Hafeez! Thank you so much for your beautiful message and wishes. You are so very generous and loving

  • Farida and Nazir Nensi , January 26, 2023

    Happy Birthday Mukhianima, Mubarak, May Allah bless you and family immense happiness, success, barakat and spiritual enlightenment. Ameen. Farida and Nazir Nensi

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