With every 1 in 12 women being affected by breast cancer in Pakistan it has become one of the most common diseases here. We all have witnessed at least one person going through it be it a relative, a family member a friend or someone we know. With tons of information available online we can learn about breast cancer and be better prepared to help others or to guide them. One thing we neglect most is what comes after; everyone processes traumas in their own way but we as a society neglect this part in the process of recovery.
There is so much more to the journey than just the treatment so we asked a few survivors and their families to share their stories to help others understand this journey better.
“The diagnosis came as such a shock to me because I went in for a routine check-up and I generally told my doctor that I have felt a lump around my underarm while showering and that it hurt sometimes. I always thought it was something hormonal never did I think it could actually be an indication of breast cancer. My doctor advised me to get a mammogram done and there it was, I had cancer. My whole left felt like it had fallen apart and that was the end because that’s how we think when we hear about cancer. My two sons were away for their studies my youngest was with me and I felt extremely lost at that time the constant thought was what will happen to them if I were to go. Anyway rest went by in a rush which didn’t feel this way at first of course each day was more painful than the other but looking at my youngest gave me that drive to push myself forward, to fight and to survive this. The day my treatment ended was the day I was briefed by my doctor how now I have a higher chance of getting breast cancer in my other breasts compared to other so I need to be even more careful about it, and that how I need to come in annually for a routine checkup. Now every year I go through the same procedure that I went through before the diagnosis and it nearly kills me to revisit this trauma because I personally don’t think any survivor wants to revisit this part of their life.” – Asma, Riyadh
“I was in 10th grade when my mother was diagnosed of breast cancer. My whole world collapsed around me I didn’t know what to do my mother is all I have she’s a single parent and I am her only child. I was in the middle of preparing for my board exams and we were moving houses when you think you really cannot handle more you find out your mother has cancer; it was the most difficult part of my life I can’t even explain what mom had to go through. I had to juggle my exams my mom’s treatment and shifting back to back. Rushing to the hospital after my exams, managing the house, staying up all night looking after her while studying for my exams but we made it through.
What I admire the most is that how she is such a warrior and how she came through it even stronger than before. Of course it changed her, I believe it changed me too but she is such a better and stronger version of herself today. As traumatizing as the journey was today people going through the same journey sometimes call her to discuss their treatment and for some guidance she motivates them like its nothing to worry about and I think that’s such a powerful thing to do to help someone through this journey and helping them see hope and a bright end to it. She continues to work as a high school teacher, healthy and happy!” Shanza, Karachi.