Dr. Fauzia Moyeen: rediscovering life’s joy at Wellspring

November 10, 2023

A new path forward

For over three decades, Dr. Fauzia Moyeen has dedicated her life to her career as a doctor, passionately working toward making a difference. As a specialist in diabetes and an international trainer in chronic diseases, she has positively impacted countless lives in South Asia and beyond. Among her many accomplishments, she holds the distinction of being the first certified insulin pump trainer and doctor in the Middle East.

However, an unexpected turn in her life occurred during a conference at Shalimar Hospital in Lahore, where excruciating back pain left her struggling to rise from her chair on the stage. A CT scan was swiftly performed, revealing a concerning lesion near her spine. Subsequent ultrasound and biopsy results, in August 2017, shifted Fauzia’s role from that of a doctor to a patient, as she was diagnosed with Langerhans Histiocytosis, an exceedingly rare disease challenging the medical community worldwide with its complexity and treatment methods.

“If you can believe it, when they told me, I started laughing,” she said incredulously. “There has always been a joke about me among my colleagues – about how I always think and do things out of the box. I’m not one for convention. So here I am with an out-of-the-box diagnosis – a very rare cancer that typically only affects young males.”

With a packed agenda of clinics, classes and lectures, Fauzia carried on with work, appreciating the support of friends, siblings and other doctors constantly in her perimeter and happy to accompany her to tests and scans. However, oncologists in Pakistan could find no proven protocols or treatment for her condition, and so they suggested she uproot and seek help in Canada or the US.

“Alberta was known to have an excellent cancer centre and since my two sons live in Calgary, and I have my permanent residency here as well, it made sense to come here,” she said.

So, in January 2018, Fauzia left her important work and extensive support system back home and came to Calgary to live with her sons. Along with her normal baggage, she brought her newly developed phobia of scan machines; the aftermath of a situation gone wrong causing a panic attack and lasting fear. On so many levels, cancer had altered her life.

“That year was really hard for me. I missed my structure; my purpose; my 15-hour work days. There were days I felt absolutely lost,” she said, adding, “but the place I did feel at home was the Tom Baker Centre. The hospital environment was one I knew well. I felt comfortable and connected there.”

Fauzia underwent four rounds of radiation and a subsequent PET scan showed another lesion. Her pain was so intense she could barely stand – she needed a wheelchair to get around.

In 2019, fighting depression and determined to reclaim her identity, Fauzia reached out to a physician friend in Calgary and started working again; doing research and presenting clinics at local organizations. Before she knew it, she was answering the call to present in other countries too – traversing continents in spite of her constant pain.

In early 2020, she narrowly arrived back in Canada when the borders were closed due to the pandemic. As the world shut down, Fauzia would not let herself slide into a dark place, so instead she found herself teaching and presenting online.

In 2022 when a PET scan showed five more lesions, Fauzia’s oncologist, who was consulting with doctors in the US, decided the best treatment was one full year of a low dose of chemotherapy. She received the treatment for five days each month, and for the five days that followed, she was wiped out.

But the price of chemo was worth it. In January 2023, a PET scan showed zero lesions. Her bones were clear. She had somehow managed to beat the illness.

“I am still in lots of pain, whether I’m working, laughing, or singing, it’s always there in my joints and muscles. Doctors have no idea if this pain is connected to the cancer, or if it’s something else like rheumatoid arthritis or radiation-induced fibre myalgia – no one knows for sure,” she said.

But on some level, Dr. Fauzia Moyeen has a new lease on life.

And in this life, she has Wellspring.

The Wellspring prescription

In January 2023, while she was still enduring difficult chemo treatments, Fauzia’s oncologist noticed a dip in her mood and suggested she check out Wellspring for emotional support.

“I signed up and showed up on a Friday to try my first class – Campfire Classics. I had no idea what to expect, but I thought the name sounded attractive. It was awkward at first – I don’t play ukulele, and I didn’t know the songs, but everyone was so nice and so welcoming, so I kept coming back. Now it’s one of my favourite programs. I play a shaker and sing – I love it!” she said.

In the weeks that followed Fauzia discovered that there is more to life than working.

“I tried drumming at Wellspring and Bird Strolls too. I loved them both. In all my life I have never taken time for myself… never indulged in anything just for me, always engaged in work, lectures, teaching, learning. This shift in my world has been amazing,” she said.

While still suffering with pain, brain fog and fatigue, Fauzia continues to work mornings, and anytime she is teaching or engaging with the community, she tells them about Wellspring.

“Wellspring has become a sanctuary where laughter, joy, and profound happiness intertwine. I have made so many friends and we can talk about anything. It’s so powerful to be giving and receiving positive energy with others who understand. I feel light; I feel happy; I laugh. There is nowhere else in my life like Wellspring,” she said.

For now, for today. All is well.

13 Responses

  1. Thank you Dr. Fauzia for being such an inspiration for me and many others. You have taught me to be resilient in hardship and adverse situations. Your commitment to advocacy especially to populations that are sometimes unaware of their own health condition is super impressive. The way you shifted gears from a physician, to a lifelong learner and educator is impressive and I aspire to follow your footsteps. Thank you so much for being my role model!!

  2. What a great story to highlight the importance of wellspring and all of the positive effects it brings to the cancer community. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you Fauzia for sharing your story and journey with Wellspring Alberta members. This will encourage others to sign- up for programs, whether it’s new to them or not. That takes courage.

  4. What an inspiring journey! Dr. Fauzia Moyeen’s resilience and determination in facing challenges, both personally and professionally, are truly commendable. Her story highlights the importance of finding support, like Wellspring, and embracing new aspects of life even in the face of adversity. Wishing her continued strength and well-being on this new path forward.

  5. You are a true fighter Dr Fauzia
    And a gem !!
    You have not given up despite any of these struggles and that’s what makes the whole difference . Thank you for being you!

  6. So proud of you! A true champion through out your life. I am so glad you found your own in Well Springs and kudos to the whole org. May the peace and blessings be upon you.

  7. Hi. Mam. You always been a source of inspiration and energy for all ,particularly for me back here in pakistan. You and your story is ray of hope and provide reasons to live for one self anf for others. May you live long,happy, healthy Nd prosperous in life for all seasons to come. Love you from core of my heart.

  8. I know Dr fauzia personally. A remarkably talented doctor with relentless tenacity and unwavering faith that has helped her every step of the way. It makes me happy to see how Wellspring has been an important part of her healing journey. She is truly deserving of all the good that comes her way.
    I wish her the best, now and always.

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