Stories about breast cancer

Does going to a psychologist mean that one is “crazy” or “weak”?

Whenever I tell someone I am a psychologist, I usually get one of two responses: “Can you tell what I’m thinking right now?” “You must be pretty crazy to deal with so many crazies!” I recently went to get my driving license renewed, and when I was called in for a medical evaluation, the assistant asked me for some personal information, including my profession. When I told him I am a psychologist, he suddenly paused and asked, “Kya main aapko pagal lagta hoon? Mere dost mujhe pagal kehte hain.” (Do I look crazy to you? My friends call me crazy.) This was an amusing, but not ...

Read Full Post

My body is not an object, breast cancer is not a joke

There was a time I believed that campaigning for a cause never really achieved much. But once I stepped into my university, I came to realise the level of ignorance around me regarding topics as common as cancer and abuse, and I acknowledged that there was a dire need to educate the masses – before taking any other steps. However, even this task isn’t easy considering that people will consequently avoid or have close to no interest even if any such campaigns are set up. I personally witnessed such a reaction, and I was outraged. I ended up steaming it off as a ...

Read Full Post

I am sorry I didn’t beat cancer

Yep, sorry, my apologies, with a diagnosis of metastasis four months ago, I didn’t beat cancer. Every one said, “You are going to beat it” Some said, “If anyone can, you can!!” They cheered me on as I endured one treatment after another and I kept fighting “like a girl”. I was told I will kick cancer’s a** and will show cancer who is the boss. I rode the wave of positivity and determination. I believed that I will beat it too. I thrived on the fantasy of the cancer submitting to my will and strength. Songs, inspirational quotes, memes, greeting cards ...

Read Full Post

It took me a real life experience to understand the importance of early diagnosis

It was the summer of 1999 when Pakistani cricket fans were eagerly hoping our cricket team would bring home the second World Cup from the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. That night, I was not watching the hyped Australia versus Pakistan match in the comfort of my TV lounge or with my family and friends; rather I was watching it with my mother who was lying in a hospital bed, after undergoing a single breast mastectomy (which is the surgical removal of the entire breast in women). I remember my mother being in excruciating pain. I was too young to comprehend what ...

Read Full Post

A doctor’s survival: Fighting a battle I didn’t choose

Two years ago, July 15, 2013 to be precise, I was diagnosed with advanced stage of breast cancer at the age of 40. A mother to two young children and a practicing psychiatrist, my life had handed me a revised script. The diagnosis of cancer had turned my world upside down, felt so lost and confused. Every morning as soon as I woke up, the word ‘cancer’ would light up in my mind like blazing neon sign on the strip in Las Vegas. Cancer, cancer, cancer. I had been marked. The guarantee to life had just been rescinded from me ...

Read Full Post

If Angelina Jolie and Deepika Padukone can do it, so can you!

Almost two years ago, American actress, filmmaker and humanitarian, Angelina Jolie, shocked the world when she disclosed that she underwent a double mastectomy due to the risk of breast cancer. A few months back, Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone revealed that she had been suffering from depression and had been on medication.

Jolie again stunned the world by revealing that, recently, she had her ovaries removed. Two of her letters published in The New York Times, the recent one on March 24, 2015, was solely aimed at informing and encouraging women, who suffer from cancer, motivating them towards dealing with its physical and psychological effects. These actresses, sharing their vulnerable side, ...

Read Full Post

8 things I wish I had never heard after being diagnosed with breast cancer

Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer among all Asian countries – one in nine Pakistani women will be diagnosed with this horrible disease. The diagnosis is a shock but the days after that are even harder to endure. I know this as I have lived through it. It has been almost a year since I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35, pregnant with my third child. I want to share here a few things that people said to me after hearing of my diagnosis, which I wish they never did, and I hope that any person going through what I did ...

Read Full Post

Two decades of battling breast cancer

The early 1990s at Franklin Township Public Library, New Jersey – two wonderful mothers separately take their children out for a day of fun and learning, with books. Fully engrossed in story time, one toddler looks up from the reading to meet a stranger’s eyes. It was another child his age, with short black hair and the undeniable look of a similar, intelligent mischievousness. That’s when it began. Our mothers soon became fast friends, and we spent most of early childhood in each other’s company. These were the modest beginnings of my lifelong (best) friendship with AR*. Little did we understand the depth of ...

Read Full Post

My life when Amma was diagnosed with breast cancer

Do you know how it feels to wake up one morning and find out that your mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer? I do. It doesn’t hit you at first. It was all a big rush; hospitals and tests, alien language and timeframes, it was chaotic and far too real. I still remember sitting with her, my mother, at the hospital. We were surrounded by family, aunts and uncles, but she was scared. This was my mother, the person I would run to in the middle of the night when I had a nightmare. She was my hero. And yet, ...

Read Full Post

Breast cancer: Pakistan’s most common cancer

It was the summer of 1999, when a bunch of us, final year medical students, were attending to patients in the crowded outpatient department at the Mayo Hospital in Lahore. Our professor had called us to come see a patient in one of the consultation rooms. The patient was a young woman, no more than 35 years of age. She had come to the hospital with a large breast mass. She said that she had first felt the mass more than a year ago. After ignoring it for months, she had finally mustered the courage to talk to her husband about it. ...

Read Full Post