I woke up one morning 5 years ago feeling a large lump on my breast. I couldn’t breathe. CANCER was the first thing that came to my mind. But how? I’m only 25. I didn’t want to go get it checked, I was too scared and not prepared for dreadful news. But then again, who would be?
For two week I didn’t tell anyone. I was worried they’d panic, then I would panic. So I decided that it would be my secret. I hoped that by not telling anyone, it would just go away on its own.
It didn’t. Every day I would look for the lump and there it would be. I would have a panic attack under the sheets and pray. Prayer should make it go away. It didn’t. I would put my hand and there it was, lumpy and almost protruding. It felt like the universe was betraying me. That’s it I’m dying. So young.
Two weeks later I caved and broke the news to my mother and husband who was my fiancé at the time. They were appalled that I hadn’t shared the news with them earlier, that I had let my fear silence me. My mother reassured me that breast cancer did not run in the family, but nevertheless they rushed me to get checked.
Getting a mammogram made it all the more real. It was painful the way the machine pressured my breast. I cried. Not from the pain. But the fear, again. I felt so weak and already defeated.
As I sat in the waiting room I kept envisioning scenarios in my head. And I kept making promises to god. One more chance, please don’t make me go through this. Please let this be a false alarm. One more chance.
It was benign. I had more than ten lumps in my breasts and they were all Fibrocystic. It was the name of a very common condition that more than half of women would experience at some point in their lives. But the doctor would have to keep a close eye on them, especially since they continue to grow, which meant that I would have to go in for an ecography every 6 months. It wasn’t ideal but you bet I was thanking my lucky stars.
But then I thought of all the unlucky women who received different news. My heart ached for them and the difficult battle ahead. The one with no guarantee of a win. The sort of battle that would kick your ass whether you would win or lose. And even when you win, you’d still get a good beating. I started reading up on breast cancer. I learned that 90% of cases of breast cancer were preventable. I learned that the only way breast cancer can kill you is if you don’t detect it early enough. I learned that you can’t detect it without a check up. Yet I also learned that a very few women actually go in for frequent screenings, because cancer “can’t possibly happen to them.”
And I hope it never does. To anyone. But we both know that’s wishful thinking. Breast Cancer rates are alarming, almost one in 8 women will be diagnosed with cancer. So let’s decrease those rates by spreading awareness.
I took part in City Centre Beirut’s latest campaign to #BreastCancerAwareness. Please take a moment to watch the video I’m featured in below and share.