One summer morning in June 2010, Wasan woke up with an uneasy feeling. She had spent the previous night in a state of anxiousness, but could not pinpoint the exact reason why. Before she got out of bed, she started to check her body, and to her shock, felt a small lump in her breast. Without thinking, she headed immediately to her doctor, who managed to calm her down and advised that she have a mammogram in order to further investigate the lump.
Wasan left the doctor’s clinic expecting the worst. She sat in silence for some time in her car, just contemplating her fate. Vivid memories ran through her mind; taking her back to her hometown Baghdad that she missed so much, back to the days of her childhood and her teenage years full of accomplishment, most notably winning many gold medals from swimming competitions.
Wasan quickly shook of her feelings of sadness and fear, reminding herself that she was now the mother of two beautiful children. Determined to raise her children to be strong people ready to take on the world, Wasan knew that she had to have the same attitude in order to be a good role model for them. Thoughts of her children were what gave her the necessary motivation to get the mammogram, and seek a second opinion from another doctor.
The results of the mammogram revealed what Wasan already knew in her heart: she had Stage I breast cancer. Once the diagnosis was confirmed, Wasan decided to start treatment at the King Hussein Cancer Center. To begin with, she had to have both a mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery. During this difficult and challenging time in her life, Wasan was so appreciative of the outpouring of love and support that she received from her family and her loved ones, as it gave her the strength to keep on going.
The operations were thankfully successful and without any complications, but the treatment wasn’t over yet. Wasan still had to undergo chemotherapy. Rather than experience the trauma of having to watch her hair fall out in clumps, Wasan bravely decided to shave off all her hair before she started chemotherapy. In a gesture of incredible love and support, her husband surprised her by shaving off all his hair too, so that she wouldn’t feel alone in her fight against cancer.
Six months after she was diagnosed with cancer, Wasan took her final sessions of chemotherapy. Her body responded well to the treatment and happily, she finally became free of cancer. Wasan still needs to have regular check-ups and a mammogram every six months to ensure that the cancer does not return, but she is eternally thankful for the fact that she discovered her cancer at an early stage. Early detection definitely saved her life.
The experience of being diagnosed with, and fighting cancer changed Wasan a lot as a person. Knowing first-hand just how precious life really is, Wasan doesn’t concern herself anymore with worrying over little things that used to bother her in the past. She has also vowed to use her experience to help other women. She now actively encourages and reminds all her friends and acquaintances to take regular early detection tests and mammograms.
Wasan is also a passionate advocate of the importance of pursuing a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of cancer and regularly gives essential advice on how to eat a healthy diet, exercise and how to manage stress effectively.
This story was last updated in 2012