I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in September 2003. It was in January2003 that I first felt a lump in my left breast; however I went into acomplete denial of its presence since it never occurred to me that thelump could be connected to cancer. Cancer to me was something that could happen to someone out there but not me. I was too young to haveit. For 8 months I ignored and refused to get it diagnosed or removed.In September 2003, I finally underwent a surgery to remove the lump.
The biopsy report was nothing but shocking! It contained everything Ihad not foreseen or had physically and emotionally prepared myself for.I remember reading the report thrice searching for the word ‘benign’but it wasn’t there! I survived cancer but the shock of reading thereport is still printed in my mind.
That was the turning moment for me as I got hold of my nerves and prepared myself for the ordeal that awaited me in the coming months in the form of my rigorous treatment. I don’t rate myself as a strong person; however my illness has strengthened my faith in Allah and given me a deeper understanding about life, people and relationships in general.
I underwent rigorous treatment of 8 months starting from chemotherapy to a long and tedious series of focused radiations at the Shaukat Khanum hospital. The experience was strenuous. It was not easy exposing myself to male doctors, losing my hair, being unable to swallow food and to try to survive on a bowl of porridge for 3 months as my mouth swelled up because of ulcers. I continued to lead a social life, making an effort to be among people, holding my esteem and not be pulled down by their continuous remarks of commiseration. What helped me survive was my determination to come out of this situation and not rate myself as someone betrayed by circumstances. I nagged my doctor at Shaukat Khanum hospital with questions before each chemo session so that I could be aware of what was coming my way. I decided not to leave my job, as during my chemotherapy and radiation my work gave me the emotional and mental stability required to deal with the treatment and with the social and cultural pressure of being a cancer patient. Most importantly, I have survived due to the support, patience and understanding provided to me by my family, my friends, my colleagues as well as due to the care and sensitivity shown to me at Shaukat Khanum hospital by the doctors and the nursing staff.
The medication went on for 5 years. I go to SKMT hospital regularly for my follow ups and look forward to opportunities where I might help other patients like myself realize that being diagnosed with cancer is not the end of life for them. Through consistent effort and determination, Allah’s blessings, timely and accurate treatment, support and sensitivity from the people around, one can continue to enjoy life like I am doing.