Voices of Strength: Breast Cancer Survivors and Warriors Share Their Journey
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer, its prevention, early detection, and treatment. In an effort to shed light on the experiences of those who have battled this disease or continue to do so, the House embarked on a mission to interview breast cancer survivors and warriors. Through their inspiring stories, we hope to honor their resilience, acknowledge their struggles, and inspire hope in those who are currently facing this challenge. In this article, we will introduce you to these incredible individuals, learn about their journeys and talk about how they pushed through.
Zahra Khan was diagnosed at the age of 30 when she did a casual self-check and discovered a lump in her left breast. She went to get it checked instantly and after a series of ultrasounds, a mammogram and a biopsy, it was confirmed she had Stage 2, Triple Negative, Grade 3 breast cancer. Throughout her treatment, Zahra managed to remain optimistic as she had an intense belief that pain is temporary. Instead of thinking her life was over, she found strength in the fact that everything will soon be over.
“It was kind of like a snowball effect, the more positive you think, the more positive happens. Every single part of my journey happened smoothly because of my positive mindset.”
However, there were times Zahra felt hopeless. Times she didn’t have energy, she would start to lose hope. But as time went by, she started to figure out how to deal with her chemotherapy side effects. She had one session of chemotherapy every week after which she would give herself three days to rest. She didn’t push herself, she let herself be even if that meant staying in bed and having her mother take care of her. She would eat food and drink fluids that would make her strong which consisted of a lot of Adrak and Carrot juice. Once those three days were done and dusted, she would be up and running into the rest of the week. In this way, she had four day to get back to her life and do normal things like going to the beach and meeting her friends.
“Treatment is very difficult, chemotherapy is very difficult, you lose all energy... and losing energy, you only realize how important it is when you don't have it. When you have it, you don't realize how great it is.”
Zahra had a mantra throughout her journey that she made sure to stick by. She wouldn’t just survive cancer but thrive through it. She continued her life, her job, her cheesecake business, and even took a few months off to travel in between. Her family and friends were her pillar of strength at this challenging time who helped her through difficult decisions.
“Losing my hair wasn't a challenge because I had accepted it but when I had to lose my breasts, it was a very, very traumatic time and a very difficult decision. It was my family, my friends and my husband who gave me the strength to take these steps. It was my husband who said you need to put your life first, you need to ensure that cancer never comes back so if you have to get rid of them, you get rid of them.”
Zahra describes herself as the kind of person who doesn’t take stress which is one of the reasons she managed to maintain a positive outlook throughout. Though her family and friends were scared after her diagnosis, especially since she was young and it came as a shock to them, in her heart she felt like if anyone in her life could’ve handled going through this, it was her.
She urges young women to give their life priority and to put themselves number one. Zahra stresses on moving past the societal expectations and stereotypes and not be scared. To check yourself, touch yourself, see yourself naked in front of the mirror, there is no harm in it. Putting your health first should be your number one priority.
Before wrapping up the interview, we asked Zahra if there is any advice that she would give to others who are currently facing a breast cancer diagnosis or are in the midst of their treatment.
“My advice to anyone going through cancer is this, don't overanalyze your diagnosis. Don't read up so much on it. My coping mechanism was to not read up too much on everything because preconceived notions come in the way. Just let your body experience what's happening and react in its own way. Don't determine or predict what will happen to you. Don't overanalyze things, don't overthink your diagnosis and just let it be. Let it happen. I remember when I was diagnosed one of my friends said to me, let go and let God and I found that so great and so profound because I had gone, I was diagnosed with something that was not in my hands so I had to just let God take care of it and I had to let go and I kid you not it helped me so much.”