‘Cancer Changed My Life In 2019 But I Look In The Mirror Daily & Tell Myself That I Am Beautiful’

Cancer Survivor

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This story has been submitted by Aisha Ahmed.

My love and faith in God and my love for others has helped me along the way. It is still what motivates me today. In July 2019. I found a lump in my breast at age 31. 

My world changed incredibly. When after 72 hours later I was diagnosed with breast cancer invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 3 (High Grade – Grade III).

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. The day was filled with shock and disbelief, followed by sheer terror and fear for my life.

Images: Aisha Ahmed

Cancer has taught me so much that I can write a novel about it. But one thing that stands out is that I Learnt what true beauty is.

I knew that with chemo and I will lose my hair. Similarly, I had an idea my body would change because of my treatment which included chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

I was bullied all my childhood due to my dark complexion and short height. However, I wondered how I would look with no hair on my head, no eyelashes, and brows.

How cancer changed my life?

Before starting my chemo, I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that I would never criticize myself. When I will look in the mirror I will say that I’m beautiful.

I have learnt that beauty is so much deeper than the exterior. Now, I am able to love myself. Moreover, I felt beautiful the way I looked during my chemo with no hair on my head. I didn’t care what others would think because I accepted myself for the way I looked. But, I hold true to the quote “never give up”.

I underwent 6-month chemo (16 chemo sessions) and lumpectomy surgery. Then 20 rounds of radiation followed by 6-month oral-chemo (still in the middle of it until November).

Although it has been incredibly difficult at times, cancer taught me persistence and gratitude. Most importantly, it taught me that the greatest gift we were given is our time. We must spend it doing what we love with the people we love. Nothing else really matters.

Since my cancer diagnosis, it has become my greatest teacher. Cancer taught me that if we allow ourselves to just ‘be’, rather than consistently ‘doing’, we will ger spiritual answers. We will know which path to take.

What cancer taught me?

Cancer taught me what true beauty is. It taught me it isn’t prejudiced and it can affect anyone in any condition, at any age. Annual screenings are so important particularly for women as they may just save your life.

Cancer taught me although physical health is paramount, I am not my body nor my mind, I am my spirit. It taught me patience and that recovery takes times.

Cancer taught me we have one life on this earth and we are not a tree. So, if we don’t like where we are, we can move (or change our circumstances) any day we choose to.

It taught me through allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we open ourselves up to deeper connections.

Cancer taught me how amazing family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors are. But their lives go on as they have their own life struggle.

It taught me to be true to myself; to feel my feelings; and process emotion rather than dismissing my feelings which results in stored emotion.

Cancer taught me I will be evolving till the day I leave this earth, there is no finish line.

It taught me I have a higher power guiding me and my life. I connect with him through faith during the cancer journey. Cancer taught me being stagnant means you’re dying.

If you’re not learning – you’re dying. If you are settling – you’re dying. And, if you’re not growing or taking chances – you’re dying.

Cancer taught me to get rid of all negativity in my life and live it to the fullest every single day. Today, I’m so grateful for having this disease in my life as it changed my perspectives on life, changed values, deepened relationships, and my strengths.

And, so today I celebrate my recovery, evolution, and life. Indeed, fighting and surviving cancer is not the end of a gruesome story. It is the beginning of a beautiful one.

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