An Overtown cafe owner who battled an aggressive form of breast cancer claims a romantic marriage proposal saved her life.
When Syra Ali was diagnosed at Wishaw General Hospital at 34, she feared she might not survive and told partner Amar Ali to leave her.
Instead of leaving, he refused and asked her to marry him – twice.
The thought of her wedding helped Syra cope through her treatment and now she’s been given the all clear, she’s full of hope for her family’s future in Wishaw.
Speaking of her diagnosis, she said: “It was a massive shock because nobody in my family has had any kind of cancer, never mind breast cancer.
“I was very teary and emotional. You wonder whether you’re going to survive.
“As soon as someone mentions cancer you think it’s a death sentence.”
Syra was told she had triple negative breast cancer, which is an uncommon and aggressive form.
She added: “When I was diagnosed with cancer I didn’t know how bad it was. I had said to Amar to leave me because I didn’t know what the future would hold and I didn’t want him to see me going through it.
“He said, ‘You can try to push me away but I’m not going anywhere’.
“Then he surprised me two weeks after my diagnosis – he turned up with his whole family and asked my dad for my hand in marriage.”
Syra had a grade two cancerous tumour that was 2.5cm long – but following the chemo it shrunk to just 4mm.
Just after Syra had finished her sixth chemotherapy session in October, Amar proposed again after giving her a series of clues to track him down.
His brother Kasim played Syra a recorded message from Amar saying she had to solve clues to find him.
She said: “He was dressed as Where’s Wally, which is what we used to read as kids.
“But instead of Where’s Wally this was Where’s Amar.”
Syra was shown a picture of Amar in a park – and recognised it as Lanark Loch, where they’d first met two years before.
When she got to the location, his younger brother Kamran was waiting with another photo clue and a rose.
The hunt took her to the first cinema where they’d seen a film together in Glasgow, their first Italian restaurant date and finally Stirling, which they’d originally discussed as a possible wedding location.
Amar was waiting there with a bouquet, got down on one knee and proposed with a specially designed ring.
She said: “Thankfully he wasn’t dressed as Wally but it was in front of two bus loads of tourists and I was so overwhelmed I forgot to say yes.
“It was a wonderful day and I was so touched by the time and effort he’d put into the proposal.”
Syra, who has a 13-year-old son called Faisal, had known Amar, 36, from school but the couple only got together two years ago.
They had a wedding blessing on Amar’s birthday in February and now they’re looking forward to a traditional Pakistani week of celebrations building up to their official marriage in July.
Syra was also keen to praise The Haven charity, who have a base in the grounds of Wishaw hospital, as their therapies and emotional support helped her cope during her cancer battle.
She added: “The Haven was a safe haven.
“I explained I wasn’t sleeping, that I hadn’t slept for five days.
“I was trying to be brave in front of my family and I didn’t know how to cope.
“They spoke to me and counselled me and helped me deal with panic attacks and got me relaxation therapy.”
For information on The Haven, call 01698 727 884.
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