“Life is about moving on, accepting changes and looking forward to what makes you stronger and more complete”
Three days married, we were on our honeymoon and life was before us. We had so many different life plans; we did not know where to start, or what to look forward to. Well, I decided to take a shower first – and this is when I felt a lump on my breast, this is when all our plans shifted drastically. That moment, I felt a rush of feelings I never had before. Just one year earlier, I was a nurse at the oncology department. I worked with cancer patients for five years, and every single patient I met through those five years came to my mind at that moment. I could not think of any other explanation to that lump but breast cancer. I called my friend that night and told her, and I tried to keep calm and not think about the lump throughout the honeymoon; but, as soon as I arrived to Lebanon, I consulted a number of doctors. My gynecologist requested an ultrasound. After the ultrasound, they requested an MRI and then a biopsy– that is when I became sure that it was breast cancer, even though I always had doubts as I was only 28 years old, with no family history of cancer; I always thought it might not be it – it could not be it.
I was at work when my phone rang, I read the name of my doctor on the screen and I really did not want to answer that phone call. He calmly informed me that it was breast cancer, and confidently assured me that we will fight this together.
I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Stage 3, Grade 3.
On that day a mixture of different feelings fluctuated, I was very mad – very sad – I was confused. I do not know if there is a name for that combination of feelings – maybe they should name it “Being informed of having cancer”. All our plans and dreams, in a moment just like that, shattered apart. With one lump, one result, and one phone call – my husband and I found ourselves fighting a war we never thought we might.
It took me couple of weeks to accept my case, grateful to the years I worked at the oncology department at the hospital, I took my strength from the patients I came across. I knew exactly what will happen in every stage, what to expect and how I will feel. Despite the fact that this period was very tough, I knew in my heart that it will pass, and it will be behind us soon. I remembered all the patients who had more severe cases, who used to come to their treatment, wearing their widest smile, fighting this war with courage and faith. All I could think about was, if they could do it, I surely could.
Treatment and Status Today
I started my journey with Chemo in November 2018; I did my mastectomy operation on August 2019. I took all my Radiotherapy sessions, and after several tests, I became cancer free! We celebrated and raised our glasses to a new chapter.
Couple of months later, in my follow up PET Scan, I was informed that our friend the Breast Cancer, had visited me again.
Today – stronger than ever, I am fighting it once again, filled with hope that this war too will be successful. I know that soon, we will raise our glasses again to celebrate a cancer free me!
Growing up, I always was that strong person who has everything under control, even when I was a little kid, rare were the times that I asked for help. However, during those times, having a support system and people around you is essential. No matter how strong you are (and trust me you are!), the support and the positive vibes you get from your surrounding is very much needed to get you through. For me, my husband Fadi played a very important role, his support and his confidence gave me a lot of strength. My close friend Rita, my family, and my family at the hospital (all the nurses) played a major role during this period. They reassured me when I was in doubt, calmed me down when I was nervous, and laughed with me when I was feeling high and faithful.
When I started the treatment, I thought the worst that could happen is hair loss. At first, I used to hide it with a wig and feel uncomfortable to look outside the window if I did not have it on. Until one day, I woke up and decided I did not need the wig; instead, I need my bald head to feel empowered to feel strong and to accept the phase I am passing through. It became a part of my current identity; I removed the wig completely and felt stronger every time I came across a mirror. My bald head marks the period that I am passing through, and will forever remind me of the strength I acquired.
Breast Cancer introduced me to a version of myself, I never knew existed
Before breast cancer, I wanted everything to be under control. I needed to know a month from now what will happen. I felt secure when I knew; I felt that life, as it is, is given to us for granted. I thought the conditions we live in today, would still apply a year, a month, a week or even a day from now. Breast Cancer freed me from those worries. I started appreciating the moment; I started embracing life better. That little lump in my breast, gave me a new set of eyes to view life in a simpler manner and from a different perspective. I became more positive, calmer and more appreciative. Breast cancer opened my eyes to the fact that what we have now is not a given, a shower may turn your life upside down. Breast Cancer taught me to be strong in a different way, taught me to have faith, taught me to breathe, relax and be sure that this too will pass!
For each and every one who is fighting cancer today, DO NOT BE AFRAID! Respond to your bodies; ask for help when you feel tired, this is normal. Remember you are fighting next to your body and not against it, give it what it asks for. If you are tired – relax, if you are feeling down – speak out, if you are feeling sleepy – sleep the day away. But, the moment you feel comfortable, get out of that bed, put your best outfit on, wear your widest smile and LIVE YOUR LIFE. Surround yourself with people you love, with positivity and with a lot of laughter.
To all those who are reading, even if you do not have a family history of cancer, always do the self-exam.
Rest in peace my dear old friend