Majid, Omar's brother, shares his story
Omar Qureshi was born on the 27th July 1987. In my opinion, being an older brother with only a sister for the new addition was well overdue. Over the years I watched Omar grow in to a bright intelligent young man.
He completed his education at Bradford Grammar School and finished his schooling career at the top of the tree. His straight As at GCSE and A-Levels ensured him a place at Leeds University finishing just shy of a first. A training contract at the illustrious DLA Piper followed - on the condition he achieved his LPC with top marks. In typical Omar style he obtained a distinction and began the first steps in what would be a well-deserved career in Law. Omar tackled working life just like he tackled anything - wholeheartedly with an understated excellence putting in the hours so he could achieve his goal of becoming a fully qualified solicitor. Weekends would be spent out with friends or at home with his beloved family watching the big fights from Vegas or following the cricket being played in some exotic location.
In October 2010 Omar developed a nagging pain in his right thigh which at first was easy to ignore but towards the end of October this pain had become increasingly worse and was dramatically hard and swollen. He was taken by his mother on 31st October 2010 to Leeds General Infirmary where a precautionary x-ray showed some alteration in the right femur. A number of tests were carried out resulting in a diagnosis of Osteosarcoma, later confirmed in a biopsy undertaken at Birmingham Orthopaedic Hospital.
A barrage of tests followed, the cancer seemed to be isolated in the femur and hadn't spread to the lungs. This was great news in the world of Osteosarcoma. Omar was told he would have numerous months of high strength chemotherapy followed by a full hip, thigh and knee replacement, rounded off by another few months of chemotherapy.
Nothing in this world could prepare us for what followed. Chemotherapy is an umbrella term for a set of drugs used in fight against cancer. In reality, the stronger the cancer, the stronger the Chemotherapy. The effects are heart-breaking - hair loss, mouth sores, infections, permanent heart lung and kidney damage. Omar's weight dropped off and by the time of the operation he was physically a shadow of his former self. Next, the operation - massive in its own right. Finally, more chemotherapy. Yet despite the pain and suffering Omar never gave up, he never took a backward step and showed a mental strength I have never seen before. Towards the end of Omar treatment he qualified for the drug mifamurtide. This was deemed to be a huge success as this drug would increase Omar's chances in the future, decreasing the chance of the cancer reoccurring. The weekly visits for mifamutride continued for many months after chemotherapy had finished and Omar threw himself in to rehabilitation for his leg. Days and weeks of intense physio followed. He began to regain his strength and his weight, many afternoons were spent laughing and enjoying ourselves. Looking back these were the most amazing days of our lives we truly appreciated life and the love we had as a family. A date was set for a return to work and everything looked positive.
In April of 2012 Omar developed a persistent cough, after numerous courses of anti-biotics a CT scan was scheduled. On the 25th May 2012 Omar was diagnosed with secondary Osteosarcoma in the pleura of his lung. Chemotherapy was to start immediately. As a family this news destroyed us but Omar would not give in. However heart and kidney damage sustained from the first set of treatments meant a lower dose chemotherapy regime could only be used. Nevertheless Omar remained positive. An operation followed resulting in the removal of a tumour the size of an orange. Hope returned once more. Remarkably Omar remained positive straight back in to the rehab for his leg and out for walks trying to build his stamina. I am amazed now, as I was then at his grit determination and positivity. For a number of weeks Omar was back on form joking, laughing and we had a chance to enjoy some wonderful times.
Sadly his cough returned and in December 2012 Omar was diagnosed as being terminal. That was a tough day, we cried, we opened our hearts and most of all we told him we loved him. He, was for the first time in over 2 years visibly upset. Not because he was dying but as he told his mum because he let her down and couldn't beat this disease.
Omar soon became very sick and spent a number of weeks in the Wheatfield's Hospice. Three days before he died he had his last stand, he bellowed over and over again how much he loved us. He showed an immense amount of gratitude to all the staff at the hospice thanking each and every one of them. Omar passed away at home on the morning of the 5th April 2013, surrounded by his mum, me his brother and his sister.
Omar's fight with cancer invokes a myriad of emotions, hope, helplessness, loss and fear to name a few. But Omar showed courage, I will remember him as a brother, a true friend, a warm hearted, kind , charming individual who was dignified right until the end. He battled like a true warrior not just for himself but for his mother his family and for his beloved nephew Kasim. He had a certain warmth in his demeanour and voice that is very rare. He was eternally grateful everyone who fought by his side and during the many heart wrenching conversations he would always express his gratitude.
He once said to me: "I was just an ordinary man who got sick and it spiralled". But Omar was no ordinary man. He was the greatest man I have ever known. I was proud to have stood by him through his fight, I am still proud of him and Omar was a blessing. I miss him dearly life is not the same without him.
There was one person who stood by Omar's side 24 hours a day seven days a week. Our wonderful mother, her pain I cannot imagine. She fought as hard as I have seen anyone fight for their Son. It soon became clear who Omar inherited his courage from. The greatest compliment Omar gave her and indeed any child could give to their parent a week before he passed away was: "Everything I am and everything I have achieved I owe to you my mother? Without you I would not have made it this far".
For those who have taken the time to read Omar's story take inspiration from his fight, remember the good times, be strong during the difficult times, love always, and smile often and thank God for every moment. I have chosen to gloss over the hardest times; it would not be fitting for such a person as kind and brave as Omar to be remembered for the suffering. Instead he should be remembered for the wonderful person he was and the light he brought everyone he came in contact with. Those he fought besides and those he knew have offered the most wonderful messages. One fellow patient described him as a beacon of light who will continue to shine.
For me his brother, his sister, mother and beloved nephew we are as a family heartbroken. We live in the hope that one day inshallah we will meet him again. For to Him we belong and to Him we return.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the doctors and nurses who cared for Omar, you truly are wonderful people, to the people we have met along the way whose lives have been touched by cancer you are an inspiration to us all, to the people who have supported me and my family I am truly grateful and will be eternally in your debt. Omar was a blessing from God and to Him we are thankful.