Personal account of Shegufta Anam – a breast cancer survivor from Dhaka, Bangladesh
I had my appointment with Dr. Hong at 4 .00 p.m Singapore time on 27th July, 2010 in Mount Elizabeth Hospital. I didn’t intend to go to Singapore leaving my daughters back in Bangladesh for a ‘simple’ reason but Saad, my husband, was very adamant to take me there. Saad had been very worried, tensed and nervous for last couple of days. We had been seeing few doctors and going through few check-ups in Dhaka, Bangladesh but to get firm diagnosis, we needed further checkup and my husband wanted those to be checked up in abroad, in a better place. We were having arguments on this issue. I didn’t see any reason to waste so much money for just a simple check-up. We flew for Singapore on 26thJuly, 2010, from Dhaka to Singapore, flight time was in mid night, and we reached to our destination in early morning. This night journey was very tiring physically and mentally. That was my first visit to Singapore and I was quite fascinated by almost everything; even I was planning for few shopping!
We reached Mount Ellizabeth a bit earlier than our appointed time, waiting for doctor is a very stressful thing specially when you don’t know what is coming up before you, it might be very serious, it might be nothing !! In between 4 to 4.30 pm, we entered into the Doctor’s room, he listened to my problem and related history from me, went through my test reports which I did in Bangladesh and then he wanted to check me physically. After this he told us something which I thing nobody wanted to hear for him/herself or for any dear ones or for anyone in this earth, I had Cancer!!! My whole body got frozen; I couldn’t move for few moments, the first thing came into my mind that was ‘Alhamdulillah’ all praises are for Allah. My husband wept, he was trying to console me, and doctor offered me warm water as he was watching me devastated. Doctor kept on saying that I need immediate surgery and few more tests because he needed to know how much it spreaded in my body but I couldn’t sense any of his words, My mind is running by one thing how much time I have in my hand, days, months, years … How long I could see my daughters, my parents, my husband, my peaceful home, my plants which I grew over the years , which became part of myself.
When we got back to our hotel room I desperately wanted to talk with any other Bangladeshi because two of us became traumatized, suffocated, were missing our family but we didn’t know any one there. I talked to my parents over the phone, with my first family. I wanted all of them by my side as if I couldn’t see them any more.
Next morning I did my PET scan; the evening before I had done mammography and ultrasound. I started getting phone calls of my friends from all corners of the world. I started regaining my will power by the grace of Allah.
Me, Shegufta Anam , in my early forties , never imagined this thing would happen to me !! We, people always think terrible things would never happen to us, when we hear anything awful, dreadful about anyone, we feel sorry for him, we pray for him but never think it can happen to me also !!
Back in April 2009, while I was watching T.V lazily , felt a little pain in my right breast, accidentally touched by my hand then I felt a lump there, my husband was a very nervous person so I didn’t share this with him. Next day I went for an ultrasound, the report showed another lump in my left breast and after few days I did fine needle test and got a negative report on malignancy and report said it was fibrocystic disease. But this incident didn’t make me worried, I was absolutely carefree.
After few months, I can’t recall precisely, might be Oct-Nov of 2009 I felt another lump on my right breast , near to armpit .This time I ignored it , I thought it could be another fibroid . There is a word / expression call intuition, It was bothering me, I started querying about breast cancer, one day I went to hospital for ultrasound, but there wasn’t any female doctor , so I didn’t do it.
Over the time I had been becoming weak, tired, I thought it’s because of over work. I had been suffering from fever for one month, losing appetite. I became concern about the condition of my health, started doing few related tests, my husband decided he would take me Singapore and we flew on July 26th.
Since I started my treatment in Singapore from then on I had started to see life from a different angle. I realized how much blessed I am by my Allah, The almighty, the most merciful. P.E.T scan showed that I didn’t get cancer any part of my body, Alhamdulillah. My surgery went successfully and biopsy report said that it’s hormone receptor, Alhamdulillah. Everything went fine. Doctor reported I would need 16 chemo therapy, 33 radiotherapy and 5 years hormone treatment. She also informed me all the side effects of chemo and radiation.
Allah made everything easy for me and through out the whole procedure I was positive so everything became very easy. Especially the two months of my radiotherapy treatment while we, four of us, were staying in Singapore, recall this staying the happiest time of my twelve years of married life. I had got wonderful, loving, supportive husband, his support and pray gave me strength to carry myself through out the disaster. My parents , their presence was a huge support for me, I used to pray to Allah that don’t took them away from me, I need them . Whenever I looked at them their pleasant face used to give me strength. My two angel daughters were inspiration of my life. My first family, my loving friends, their love, care and pray infused me with a new life.
I would always say to everybody that never consider yourself finished if you are with cancer. It’s just a beginning of a new phase of your life. Allah gave us lots of good things in our life and a little test of patience, which we had to overcome by the grace of Allah, the most merciful, the most beneficent.