Farah Khaleck is the poster child for body confidence. She radiates positivity and when you talk to her, it feels like you are talking to an old friend. It’s not hard to see why her fans are so enamoured with her---she is just that chick.
But as Farah tells it, her personality is the result of a dark period where her inner strength was tested to the hilt. A period where she constantly questioned her state of mind and came out on top. It all happened after she was diagnosed with Scleroderma.
What is Scleroderma?
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to produce excessive collagen causing your skin and connective tissues to tighten and in extreme cases, it can damage the lungs, intestines, or oesophagus.
Farah was diagnosed with the disease in her teens and after the diagnosis, she had a 5 year emotional and physical roller coaster ride that involved anger, steroids and losing hope.
“I was first diagnosed with Scleroderma when I was 17 years old and when I heard about it I was like ‘What is this? I have never heard of it’. It was a shocker. It was hard to accept and what I knew at that time was that it wasn’t curable and that they would give me steroids to manage it. It was a roller coaster for the first few years. I think four to five years of trying different medicines, different steroids and really messing myself up until I lost all hope and refused to try anything anymore. Initially, I was really bitter, negative and just angry and I hated myself so much for changing and not being able to do stuff,” she said.
Following the prognosis, Farah had to relearn things like holding utensils and had trouble sitting and standing without assistance.
“I had to learn how to hold my plate without dropping it, how to hold my spoon in a different way. Of course, my mum has been my pillar of strength and support and has been with me throughout this journey,” the 32-year-old states.
Turning Point in Farah’s life after 5 years
5 years into battling the disease and her sanity at its breaking point, she had an epiphany.
“I think about 5 years into the disease, I hit my turning point. I accepted myself and I accepted the person I was when I looked into the mirror. I was like ‘This is it you know.’ I can’t fight anymore because I am not getting anywhere, and when I looked at myself in the mirror, the image staring back at me just wanted to live and when I looked deep into her eyes I saw it was just me and I wanted to live. I accepted my condition, went back to God and rekindled our relationship and we got along much better after that,” Miss Khaleck sated.
“I started wearing my hijab, started loving this new person and from there I diverted to a new road of acceptance and belief. I always believe that there is a cure. From then on, I said this is life, let me just live it. So why not live it with much more enthusiasm? Crying and negativity never got me anywhere so let’s try something else,” Farah says with a smile on her face.
Governor Hassan Joho funds her Stem Cell treatment
Farah’s hope for a cure was ignited after stumbling upon stem cell treatment.
According to nih.gov, ‘The regimen includes chemotherapy and total body radiation to destroy the bone marrow followed by transplantation of the person’s own blood-forming stem cells to reconstitute the marrow and immune system.’
“I stumbled upon stem cell treatment, did some more research and found out that there is a possible cure. I spoke to the doctors in India and they assured me of over 90% chance of recovery so I hopped onto that wagon and I tried to get to India for the treatment. I started a fundraiser and I was graciously assisted by Governor Joho and he fully sponsored my trip. I went to India last June/July and I got my treatment done and from then on the progression has been so major. People tell me that there have been changes on my skin though I don’t see them but inside I feel the changes. My digestive system has improved, I don’t get tired anymore and I can walk for a distance without losing my breath and my body is not so tough, it’s much softer now. I love these new changes in my body. It’s like a miracle and I am so hopeful now,” she said.
Dealing with newfound fame
Following her much-publicized fundraiser, a number of media interviews both locally and internationally, Farah has become a nationwide sensation.
So how is she dealing with her newfound fame?
“I wouldn’t say I am famous but I am really humbled by all the support. I remember there was a time my mum and I would go out and people would stare at me. So she would always hold me and tell me ‘We are going to the movies, we will watch the movie, let them stare.’ Nowadays when we are out, she goes like ‘Oh my God Farah nobody is staring at you’ and people who know me come up to me and say ‘hi’ and smile at me. I get so many smiles and I’m like this is so cool, this is so amazing it’s so heartwarming. I am super grateful to all my supporters and all my followers, they are so amazing. It all comes down to owning your story and being able to share it. You don’t know who you might inspire out there,” she said.
She hopes to not only inspire people with her story but also share the biggest lesson she has learnt from Scleroderma, being patient.
“One thing I’ve learnt from Scleroderma is being patient, being in this moment and being grateful for this moment. I am grateful for this moment I am in and I’m just looking forward to tomorrow,” Farah said.
When Farah is not busy spreading awareness on Scleroderma, stem cell treatment and motivating her fans, she likes to wind down with some music from Beyoncé, Sauti Sol and King Kaka.
Alternatively, Farah engages in cooking as she loves to cook or rewatches her favorite movie of all time ‘Fashion’ starring Priyanka Chopra.
And just like a lot of ladies her age, Farah likes dolling up and shopping.
“For fun, I love to go out, I love movies and I love shopping. Oh my God! It’s bad I need to control myself. I love to do fun girly stuff, I love to doll up and I love my eyeliner,” she said concluding the interview.