Pinktober: Break the Silence
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month, nicknamed Pinktober, to increase awareness about the importance of early detection, self-examination, and treatment.
Cancer… It is a scary word and always will be. But unless it has had a direct impact on us, such as looking after a family member who is/was a cancer patient, we don’t often think about it. It doesn’t even cross our minds. We just think we are healthy for now and go about our lives as normal. But Jeela, a breast cancer survivor was here to remind us of the importance of being healthy, looking out for risk factors and just being vigilant. I would like to dedicate this blog post to her as a thank you for sharing her story which would not have been easy.
At both the resorts, all of us women gathered for a session run by our very own Dr Maryam, the resort doctor. I don’t know what it is about her, but she can make even the most morbid topics interesting and engaging. Her presentation was super informative and taught us the importance of self-care and self-examination. Yes, us ladies should put on some good tunes, light a few candles, and take a moment just to breathe. Inspired by Dr Maryam’s words, I have been doing this weekly and I must tell you, it feels incredible.
There is always something so beautiful about participating in a women-only activity. The energy that surrounds these women is so powerfully infectious. Soon after the presentation, we dug into the most delicious cake with the creamiest buttercream frosting. While some indulged in the cake and helped themselves to a piece or two (like me lol), some were dancing to ABBA and others were catching up about their day. You could hear laughter coming from every corner of the room.
After the fun, it was time to get serious again as we all sat down to hear Jeela’s story. Jeela was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 31 in 2013. For treatment, she had six cycles of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. She shared a few pictures of her during treatment and it broke my heart. I couldn’t help but sit and admire this incredibly strong woman. She explained to us that her biggest strength to keep fighting was her daughter, who fought by her side along with her husband.
Today, Jeela is a survivor and just marked her 9th year after being diagnosed. She actively takes part in helping other cancer patients, inspiring them to keep fighting like a girl! I met her later in the bookshop (which always makes for the best place for intimate conversations) one to one where she told me that she was a support system for a lot of patients. “It was a blessing” is how she put it. A blessing because it helped her acknowledge and appreciate her own strength, to inspire others to find that same strength to keep fighting.
Thank you, Jeela. Your story touched each and every woman in the room that night. We need strong women like you in our lives - to remind us that we women, we are strong!
So today, I urge all of you ladies to get checked - if any men are here reading, check yourselves too as men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer! And please, let's all encourage the beautiful women in our lives to get checked. Love always, Malsa.