Suleika’s dreams of becoming a foreign correspondent and traveling to North Africa to report on the revolutions taking place there were cut short by cancer. Instead, she decided to start reporting from the front lines of her hospital bed on a different kind of revolution: the one taking place inside of her. 


Articles from Suleika's New York Times "Life, Interrupted" Column


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Originally published March 16, 2015 in the New York Times

It took me a long time to be able to say I was a cancer patient. Then, for a long time, I was only that: A cancer patient. Now that I’m done with my treatment, I’m struggling to figure out who I am. On paper, I am better: I no longer have cancer, and with every passing day I’m getting stronger. The constant flood of doctor’s appointments, blood tests and phone calls from concerned family and friends have trickled to a slow drip. But off paper, I feel far from being a healthy 26-year-old woman.


More Articles


Photo by Anne Francey

Photo by Anne Francey

Life, Interrupted: By a Dog, Originally published December 23, 2013 in the New York Times

Ever since a therapy dog visited me in the hospital during my first cycle of chemotherapy in May 2011, I became fixated on the idea of having a dog of my own one day.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: A Golden Opportunity, Originally published October 3, 2013 in the New York Times

Just a few years ago, when I received a diagnosis of leukemia, the notion of professional achievement — let alone wining a News Emmy — was simply not in my realm of possibilities.


Photo by Shayla Harris

Photo by Shayla Harris

Life, Interrupted: A Test of Faith, Originally published August 22, 2013 in the New York Times

It had never occurred to me that, with all of the progress that has been made in cancer research, none of the standard treatments would work for me. That's when I learned about something called a clinical trial.


Photo by Adam Jaouad

Photo by Adam Jaouad

When I learned I had cancer at the age of 22, my life and my resolution-making were interrupted. There was no time or space to stress over something as small as a three-day juice cleanse or a daily exercise program. Surviving my next cycle of chemotherapy became my singular concern.


Photo by John Harrington

Photo by John Harrington

Life, Interrupted: The Cost of Cancer, Originally published June 13, 2013 in the New York Times

When I blow out my birthday candles next month, I’ll celebrate being alive. But my 25th birthday will also mark a countdown to the date when I will no longer be eligible to stay on my parents’ insurance.


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Life, Interrupted: Getting Away, Originally published May 16, 2013 in the New York Times

One of the hardest parts about developing leukemia at age 22 was how restrictive it was: My treatments left me highly susceptible to infection, airplanes were strictly off limits and even a trip to my neighborhood bodega required a protective face mask.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: All in a Day's Work, Originally published May 2, 2013 in the New York Times

Dozens of chemotherapy treatments and one bone marrow transplant later, I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the art of not working.


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Life, Interrupted: A Friendship, Interrupted, Originally published March 21, 2013 in the New York Times

We were different in almost every way, but forged a friendship around the fact that we shared the same type of cancer. Then one day, life changed dramatically for both of us.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: Crazy, Unsexy Cancer Tips, Originally published February 14, 2013 in the New York Times

Every few weeks I host a “girls’ night” at my apartment in Lower Manhattan with a group of friends who are at various stages in their cancer treatments. But one topic that doesn’t come up as often as you might think — particularly at a gathering of women in their early 20s and 30s — is sex.


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Life, Interrupted: Brotherly Love, Originally published January 17, 2013 in the New York Times

One of the strangest moments of having cancer in my 20s was when I found myself calling my brother Adam on Skype while he was studying abroad in Argentina to tell him that I had just been diagnosed with leukemia and that — no pressure — he was my only hope for a cure.


Photo by Anne Francey

Photo by Anne Francey

Life, Interrupted: My Mother's Cooking, Originally published December 13, 2012 in the New York Times

My mother's cooking has always given me comfort. But cancer treatment not only confuses my taste buds, but the memory and emotions associated with my favorite childhood foods.


Still from film by Jenna Pace

Still from film by Jenna Pace

Life, Interrupted: Real Housewives of Chemotherapy, Originally published November 29, 2012 in the New York Times

I am never happy to be in the oncology waiting room. But when I first saw Kristen Howard sitting across from me at Mount Sinai Hospital, I could barely contain my excitement. Since my diagnosis with leukemia two years ago at age 22, I’ve learned that it is a rare sight to see young people in the hallways of an adult oncology unit. 


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Life, Interrupted: Hurricanes and Cancer, Originally published November 1, 2012 in the New York Times

For cancer patients like me, and for others who suffer from chronic or life-threatening illnesses, natural disasters don't put health on the back burner. In fact, disasters like this one only add another layer of concern.


Photo by Theo Wargo/Wire Image

Photo by Theo Wargo/Wire Image

Life, Interrupted: Changed by Cancer, Originally published October 25, 2012 in the New York Times

Cancer is not a gift. But it can change you, prompting you to learn a few things along the way.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: A Battle with Myself, Originally published October 11, 2012 in the New York Times

I used to resent the battle metaphors associated with cancer because most of the time I’m just lying in bed, and I don’t feel like battling at all.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: A Cancer Patient's Best Friend, Originally published Sept 27, 2012 in the New York Times

I’m always being prescribed medicine, but I never thought I’d get a prescription for a puppy.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: Five Days of Chemo, Originally published August 30, 2012 in the New York Times

Every month, I go to the hospital to receive outpatient chemotherapy injections for five days in a row. My doctors say this will be my routine for the next year.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: Six Ways to Cope with Cancer, Originally published August 23, 2012 in the New York Times

It’s been 16 months since my diagnosis and four months since my bone marrow transplant, and now I want to share what I’ve learned along the way.


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Life, Interrupted: Putting a Positive Spin on Cancer, Originally published August 16, 2012 in the New York Times

Although I have learned a lot since my diagnosis — and I am trying to be hopeful for the future — living with cancer is also just really, really hard. We don’t always talk about those times. We self-censor many parts of the journey.


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Life, Interrupted: Medical Bills, Insurance and Uncertainty, Originally published August 9, 2012 in the New York Times

If you have a chronic illness in America, there’s a good chance you also hold a degree in Health Insurance 101 – whether you wanted to or not.


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Life, Interrupted: Am I a Cancer Survivor?, Originally published July 12, 2012 in the New York Times

In the cancer world, the term “survivor” is as ubiquitous as it is hard to define.


susu_incanceration.jpg

Life, Interrupted: My Incanceration, Originally published June 28, 2012 in the New York Times

Tied to tubes and beeping monitors, I have often felt like an inmate shackled to the schedule of the outside world. To a cancer patient, the lexicon of the prisoner seems to scream out from everywhere.


Photo by Shayla Harris

Photo by Shayla Harris

Life, Interrupted: Fighting Cancer and Myself, Originally published June 21, 2012 in the New York Times

Cancer is a tricky balancing act. You have to be proactive about your medical condition, while simultaneously accepting the fact that you can’t change your reality.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: Feeling Guilty About Cancer, Originally published June 14, 2012 in the New York Times

I’m aware that feeling guilty about having cancer is more than a little irrational. But when it comes to cancer, guilt is a mercurial, equal-opportunity burden that affects both patients and caretakers.


Photo by Mara Nelson-Greenberg

Photo by Mara Nelson-Greenberg

Life, Interrupted: Finding My Cancer Style, Originally published June 7, 2012 in the New York Times

While much of what a cancer patient experiences is deeply personal, losing your hair is an undeniably public affair


Photo by Greg Edwards

Photo by Greg Edwards

Life, Interrupted: Keeping Cancer at Bay, Originally published May 31, 2012 in the New York Times

Cancer is always lurking in my ZIP code, whether I’m in Manhattan or in upstate New York.


Photo by Anne Francey

Photo by Anne Francey

Life, Interrupted: The Beat Goes On, Originally published May 24, 2012 in the New York Times

Oncology wards, more than anywhere else I know, are musicless places. But on one special day, my friends in the Stay Human Band brought music to my hospital room.


Photo by Anne Francey

Photo by Anne Francey

Life, Interrupted: Hope is My New Address, Originally published May 17, 2012 in the New York Times

I opened my eyes to find doctors peering over my hospital bed. They had some welcome news. I had for a month been living in isolation in the bone marrow transplant unit of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, my only option after my diagnosis with acute myeloid leukemia last year.


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

 

Life, Interrupted: Posting Your Cancer on Facebook, Originally published May 10, 2012 in the New York Times

 

When I learned I had an aggressive form of leukemia 12 months ago, updating my Facebook profile was not a top priority. After all, in the land of Facebook, I didn’t have cancer yet.


Photo by Ashley Woo

Photo by Ashley Woo

Life, Interrupted: Cancer is Awkard, Originally published May 3, 2012 in the New York Times

Cancer can catch even the best of us off guard. Sometimes the emotions come pouring out. Sometimes they stay locked inside. Either way, cancer can be awkward.


susu_hospital.jpg

Life, Interrupted: Dispatch From a Hospital Room, by Suleika Jaouad and Seamus McKiernan, Originally published April 26, 2012 in the New York Times

This week, my boyfriend, Seamus, is helping me write from my room in the bone marrow transplant unit.


Photo by Anne Francey

Photo by Anne Francey

Life Interrupted: A Young Cancer Patient Faces Infertility, Originally published April 19, 2012 in the New York Times

Last spring, I found out I had leukemia. Before the horror of the news even had time to sink in, I had to absorb a second shock: The chemotherapy treatments that could save my life would also make me infertile.


Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Photo by Seamus McKiernan

Life, Interrupted: Countdown to Day Zero, Originally published April 5, 2012 in the New York Times

Living with a life-threatening disease can make you feel like a second-class citizen in the land of time. Disease infects not only your body but your relationship to the past, present and future.


Photo by Emma Dodge Hanson

Photo by Emma Dodge Hanson

Life, Interrupted: Facing Cancer in Your 20s, Originally published March 29, 2012 in the New York Times

After my diagnosis of cancer, I moved back into my childhood bedroom so my parents could take care of me. At the same time, I’ve had no choice but to grow up fast.