During breast cancer awareness month we are sharing stories from our community to highlight the different experiences of Muslim mamas. The following story is told by Bodoor Yaseen about her mother.
In March 2021, during the COVID pandemic, my mom complained about having heavy menstrual bleeding and not feeling well generally. She had an appointment with her gynaecologist and everything looked normal and healthy. My Mom then asked her doctor to do a mammogram as a periodic check, although she was not concerned about her breast health as she had never felt or experienced any unusual symptoms.
Some time later my mom called and explained, “the mammogram results are concerning, they’ve found a suspicious tumour and recommended a biopsy. I’m scared and I don’t want to proceed. I went for something and I ended up with something else. Can I not do it? I have friends who refused doing it and they are perfectly fine now.”
I could feel how worried and anxious she was. But we all insisted. she must do it.
The biopsy results came back a few days later. The tumour was not benign. It was cancerous. My Mom simply said, “Alhumdulillah, this is Allah’s plan and I’m ready to ride through this journey”.
It’s a hard task to gather words and be composed when bad things happen to your beloved ones. My mom did not need to hear words of mine. She was already equipped with Strong Iman, Sabr and positivity. Seeing her be strong and calm kept us all going.
My Mom joined a support group of breast cancer survivors and fighters. This group helped her a lot in drawing an expectation on how things may go. Although every case is different and every treatment is patient-specific, the thunders of emotions they go through , the uncertainty and fear are very much unified for all.
I think the most important step every woman should take is to surround herself with the right people and make sure she receives the support she wants and needs. My mom decided quite consciously not to share the news with everyone. She knew whom to tell and whom to avoid telling. She did not want to be surrounded by anyone who may make her feel worse or put her down.
After nearly two months of endless tests and discussions with the physicians, my mom opted for a unilateral mastectomy. The surgery was successful and the tumor was removed. After further tests, thankfully, the doctors assured us that it was a slow growing cancer and it was in its first stage. In fact, she neither needed chemotherapy nor radiation and was put only on an oral hormonal therapy. For us, this news were wonderful as chemotherapy is every patients’ biggest concern.
After everything she experienced, my Mom began campaigning for early breast cancer detection within her close circles of family friends.
Although my mom’s type of cancer was not hereditary, my aunt was diagnosed soon after her with an advanced stage. Alhamdulillah Both my Mom and my aunt are now doing great and somewhat surprisingly, they are both more energetic and alive than ever!
By the will of Allah alone, my mom’s routine mammogram test, saved her. It was the early detection that made treatment much easier and the suffering much more tolerable.
During this month, there will be many posts and articles about self-tests and the most common symptoms of breast cancer.
Take this opportunity to educate yourself and others. My doctor once said “every women knows when things in her body change, but it’s the fear and the stigma that refrain her from seeking medical advice.”
This is a story of hope, that shows you can overcome this difficult illness and go on to life a happy and healthy life. But what made this all so possible was that Bodoor’s mum followed her intuition and knew something wasn’t quite right with her body.
Routine mammograms in older women are vital. Finding breast cancer early is crucial in giving your body the best fighting chance.
It’s worth remembering that whilst this story is that of an older woman, breast cancer sees no number. You can be settling into your later years or be full of energy and zest, it is still extremely important to check yourself regularly.
You can get up to date information at https://coppafeel.org
If you would like to submit a story to share an experience or reflection on breast cancer please email firstname.lastname@example.org