Human interaction became second-nature to me. My self-esteem was at a low and I couldn’t stop stressing over how others will perceive my drastic change in physique. I had been putting on so much weight, although dieting constantly, but my stomach seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. My face also became very round. The thought of bumping into someone on the street scared me to the point that I wanted to shut myself away from everyone’s sight and thoughts.

Have you tried HIIT?
I think you should go on a protein diet!
Oh, I have the perfect diet for you, it worked on me like a charm.

Just a small snippet into some interactions I’ve had with kind and thoughtful people who couldn’t grasp that it wasn’t a simple fix. These nice comments used to hurt me, but I was tired of explaining to everyone that I have tried everything, and nothing seems to work.

I had a feeling deep down that something was wrong, something was just not normal!

No amount of working out helped me lose weight, not even any type of diet (including an 800-calorie diet). Instead, I was gaining weight. The scale became my enemy! I’ve also been to endocrinologists, dieticians, you name it, and no one was able to give me a solution to my inability to lose any weight, let alone stop the bloating and gaining of weight.

The things I would hear from doctors:
سكري تمّك
Go on a stricter diet
Sign up for a meal plan because you must be cheating!

Those words used to resonate in my head! Why can’t anyone just LISTEN to what is going on with me? Why are doctors following everything by the book? She’s fat, hence she needs to go on a diet! No-one was listening to me.

Not only was I frustrated with my body image, but I was also tired, not only mentally, but physically! I was tired most of the time. I had muscle weakness. I was getting bruises. I had night sweats. I had difficulty concentrating. I had weak short term memory. I was not able to retain information. I had blurry vision. I had anxiety.

Most of the time, I felt tired. My body was asking me to rest, but I used to fight it. I used to refuse to allow myself to be tired. I need to have energy and go on with my daily life. I need to be active for Nadeem. That’s not the Donna I know, and the Donna I want to be. I was fighting it. I didn’t listen to it. I was afraid to listen to it. I just did not want to believe that I was tired.

This went on for TWO YEARS! TWO YEARS of emotional, mental, and physical struggle; and of course, things were getting worse with time; until FINALLY I saw an endocrinologist and he had THE ANSWER!


A big load was removed off my shoulder! Finally, I have answers! I must admit I was scared, yet it was a big relief. The things that my body was going through were “real”. It was not psychological. My body was telling me that there was something wrong and it was right! On a happy note, all the exercise and the diets I was doing did not go to waste!

The first thing I did after receiving the news was ask everyone’s best friend “google” the symptoms of Cushing’s disease, how common it is, and get more info about the disease. The symptoms matched exactly what I have been going through and I was just soooo happy to have the things my body was going through validated. My face was round and puffy (they refer to it as moon face), I had a buffalo hump (a hump between the shoulders), fragile skin that bruises easily, facial hair, muscle weakness, difficulty concentrating, night sweats, anxiety, blurry vision and the most notable one was weight gain around the midsection (big, round belly). These were my symptoms! Going through these for many years and not knowing why put a big toll on my mental state and limited me from socializing.

So, what is Cushing’s disease exactly? In brief, Cushing’s disease occurs when a benign tumor in the pituitary gland makes too much ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). In response, the body’s two adrenal glands make too much cortisol. This causes problems with your body’s hormone balance. So, a Transsphenoidal of Pituitary Tumor needs to be done which is basically removing the tumor! It’s a simple operation that is done through the nose. You would think that I’d be freaking out going into surgery. Well to be honest, I was excited! I just wanted that thing removed and I wanted to gain “myself” back! This was IT, and it was time to get rid of it!

Recovery from the operation varies from one person to another, but don’t think that once surgery is done, it’s over! The tumor is gone, YES! But it’s not over yet! Recovery from Cushing’s disease is a long period – as in years!

Right now, 2 months post recovery have passed, and I am glad my doctor was able to identify the source of my suffering. I am starting to slowly gain my energy back, looking less like a balloon, able to focus better, and most importantly I can smile from the inside!

Life is full of surprises. Always be ready for the next curveball, and most importantly always listen to your body!


  1. You are truly one of the most inspiring, mentally & physically strong and absolutely beautiful people i have met in my entire life. Your journey has been so challenging and difficult so seeing that big smile of yours every single time never ceases to amaze me. It’s true that most of us, and probably almost everyone in ur life will never really understand completely the hardships you went through no matter how much we try. Just know that u are an inspiration, a real life inspiration that we have the privilege to meet and talk to. Your courage, your patience and grace are some really outstanding and remarkable characteristics of yours. Even if we are not able to understand you 100% you have to know that u are a role model for all of us and we look up to you in all ways possible. You are a truly amazing mother, daughter, sister, person and friend and everyone who meets you and gets to know you is honestly very lucky. Instead of drowning in your problems you actually thrived through them and that real smile of yours is real life proof. Everything you felt is so valid and i’m very glad you shared it with the world and raised awareness on the topic. You deserve a happy and peaceful life from now on with nothing but kind people and good memories. I pray to God you get to have that. Thank you for being here with us and thank you for making this world a brighter place

  2. Wow Donna. Life really has been hitting you with these obstacles but you keep hitting back and knocking it out of the park. Thanks for being so vulnerable and sharing your story to raise awareness. You are a fighter and an inspiration not only to anyone battling a medical condition but to anyone of us dealing with a life setback or roadblocks. Thanks for helping to put things into perspective, showing us to never give up and listen to yourself/your body and to continue fighting and showing up day in and day out. Wishing you a speedy recovery ❤️

  3. My dear strong friend. Thank you for sharing and raising awareness on this topic. I know fully well that it can’t be easy to be vulnerable and to write down what you have gone through and continue to go through. Sending you lots of love now and always. ♥️

  4. Your strength, persistence, positivity never ceased to amaze me. I am so so proud of the person that you are Habibi. You are an amazing mother and one strong woman. Nadeem is so lucky to have you to look up to! We all love you deeply and Leo is so lucky to have you as his khalto ❤️❤️❤️

  5. Wow Donna, thx for raising awareness.. love you the way you are, ure so strong believe it or not and we can all learn from that!
    Here’s a big hug! Xxx

  6. My Dear Donna,
    I am so sorry you have been through this. You are such a warrior and I deeply and sincerely admire you.
    Please know you are beautiful, kind and such a joy to be around. Your light shines brighter than you know!
    Wish we were closer so I could give you a big hug!
    All the best my friend and hope to see you soon ❤️

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