An inspiring story from a breast cancer survivor

“Early detection of breast cancer saved my life,” says Mrs Aisha Al Tamimi

As an etiquette and cooking expert who is very passionate about cooking, I have written several cook books and have conducted special cooking lessons for ladies. Having gained quite a bit of popularity, I now have 15,000 followers on Instagram. Together with my loving and supportive family, I would say that I am extremely blessed and privileged to have a happy and comfortable life.

I usually visit my gynecologist for regular check-ups. As my gynecologist also noticed lumps on my right breasts, she performed mammography on both my breasts. Such test always indicated that there was nothing wrong and that both breasts were clean of any possible signs of cancer.

Until one day, my gynecologist told me that they noticed a tiny lump on my left breast – the one that initially did not have any external signs. Worried that there might be something wrong, she immediately referred me to a surgeon who then conducted a further check-up and performed an MRI scan.

As the results of the MRI scan came out, my children and I were scheduled to travel. Before traveling, my niece, who also happens to be a doctor, told me that more samples need to be taken and that I should see a doctor right away when I arrive to our travel destination.

As soon as I reached there, I went to see a doctor and submitted the required samples as indicated in the medical report from my MRI scan. During that visit, the nurse who initially attended to me even complimented me and said that I look joyful and positive and that hopefully everything is fine.

Three days after, I received the biggest shock of my life. The doctor and the nurse told me that the tiny lump or tumor found on my left breast is cancer.

In spite of all the medical tests and procedures I went through, there was really nothing that could have prepared me to receive such news. It was truly a startling revelation for me and my family that in the one hour I spent at the doctor’s clinic, I actually didn’t hear or absorb any word of what the doctor said. It was as if I was suddenly transported into a devastating world of worry, stress and anxiety. I started entertaining a lot of negative thoughts especially that of having to go through chemotherapy, including the pain and hair loss, as well as the possibility of failure of the treatment.

My erstwhile joyful and positive mood suddenly became that of a sad and irritable person who, in spite of the doctor’s effort to appraise me of my options – whether to remove the breast or just the tumor – I simply responded by saying that: “You are the doctor and know better, so you decide.”

With the doctor having decided to remove the tumor, I underwent the operation without any therapy. Soon after, I returned to Doha and spent the next two months in a very depressed mood. I only became a bit relaxed when it was decided that I undergo Radiotherapy instead of Chemotherapy.

Having been transferred under the care of another specialist, a lot of my fear and anxiety were diminished as she knowledgably explained to me the pros and cons of Radiotherapy. She even gave me the assurance that Doha is among the best places in the world for such treatment as it is well-equipped with state-of the-art facilities for Radiotherapy. True enough, I underwent 33 one and a half hour sessions of Radiotherapy everyday (except weekends) from the beginning of July up to mid-August 2014. Since then, following my latest mammogram and MRI test results, I am extremely happy and relieved that I have been declared clean of any cancerous lumps or tumors, thanks to God and my gynecologist, who explained to me the need for routine screening and early detection.

Throughout my ordeal, I am sincerely and truly grateful to my family, dear friends and all the people I love for being there for me. They have all patiently and understandingly dealt with my emotional and physical up and downs from my diagnosis and treatment. Also, by making my situation known through Instagram, I also experienced the love and support of my followers, which is truly amazing.

Being one of the biggest and most important lessons learned from this experience, I now have a deeper understanding of the value and importance of breast cancer screening.

That anyone, no matter how healthy looking they may be, may be just as surprised as I was to learn that I had cancer. And what actually saved my life was the fact that I underwent all the necessary medical tests which facilitated its early detection and successful treatment.

I therefore encourage all ladies from the aged between 45-69to undergo breast cancer screening regularly. There is nothing to fear from mammography because knowing that you maybe have cancerous lumps or tumor at an early stage while it is still treatable and curable is way better than learning about it when it is already too late.

If we love ourselves and our families, undergoing regular breast cancer screening is one the best ways of showing them that we are taking care of our health. At the same time, staying positive and being hopeful of the best helps us go through every challenge in life.