Muslims Who Fast: A cancer patient who's fasting shares iftar with his wife

Our mini series Muslims Who Fast has been documenting the iftars of those observing Ramadan.

So far we’ve broken fasts with a Londoner in Australia and a fashion vlogger tucking into food from her Egyptian roots.

Today we chat with Mohammed Khan, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014.

While Ramadan is not mandatory for those with vulnerable health, Mohammed is keen to fast and reap the benefits of the holy month.

He has had permission from his doctors and oncologist to fast during Ramadan.

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The former HGV driver is unable to work but Mohammed thanks Macmillan cancer support for advising him on the financial aid that’s available to him, including grants.

Let’s have a look at the iftar he has at home with his wife.

Tell us about yourself, what are you having for iftar tonight?

I am 57 years old, living in Chigwell, Essex. I have been suffering from prostate cancer since 2014 which has now spread into my bones.

I live with my good wife who is also my carer. We have a great time together; we have been married for nearly 40 years.

For Iftar, today we are having vegetables, mash and meat patties. Not forgetting the dates to break our fast.

What do you normally eat when you break your fast?

Normally, a very light dinner, chapatti and curry, yoghurt, dates. Ramadan must-haves include dates and my favourite drink – yogurt and milk lassi – I love that stuff.

What does Ramadan mean to you?

Ramadan means a lot to me, it’s not just fasting and praying for 18 hours. It is also about sharing, caring, it’s about humanity. It is about being compassionate with your family and neighbours, being charitable not only with money but with words.

Why did you decide to fast, given your health status?

My health does not stop me from fasting. My nurse and oncologist have okayed it. Plus it’s not only detoxing your body but its also very spiritual for me.

What has Ramadan under lockdown been like?

It’s different and difficult for everyone. For me, it’s not being able to see my children and my grandkids that is hard. Also, it’s really difficult not being able to go to the mosque to pray.

Any particularly fond memories of Ramadan?

Ramadan is different every year. My fondest memories were spending Ramadan with my parents snacking on lots and lots of poppadoms.

What has it been like living with a cancer diagnosis?

The main thing when I was diagnosed was that I had no one turn to for the first couple of weeks. It was just one of those things where you think it will go away. Then a few weeks later, I just parked up on a side ride road and started crying, and thought ‘what’s happening?’.

That’s when I got in touch with Macmillan and they helped me regain control of my life. Without their help I don’t think I would have been here today, I would have been lost. 

After losing my job as an HGV driver, it was like ‘okay, I’ve got cancer. What can I do now?”‘

‘The main focus is on keeping your family together, making sure there’s food on the table, paying the bills, and that means your health is at the back of your mind.

‘It was Macmillan who told me about the benefits available and the disability allowance, which meant I could relax a bit.’

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