On the 18th of December 2018, an event to support Breast cancer survivors was held at the Weh Women’s Health and Community Center which was attended by 10 breast cancer survivors from different ages groups and backgrounds.
The event commenced with an introduction and welcome speech by Dr. Luma Hazim (Preventive Directorate) seminar about breast cancer was presented by Dr. Sanna Rasheed then proceeded to present a seminar about breast cancer and the resources and support available. This was followed by a focus group discussion regarding the support and network available to the survivors during their illness, the stage when their illness was detected, their course of treatment, whether it was satisfactory and what was tough about the process and the message that these women would like to give other women who are fighting this illness.
Regarding the first question of the support and network available to them, the answers mostly were positive regarding the role and support of the family members (husband, in-laws, children, aunt). Some also expressed that the news was very traumatic and they were so depressed that they were unable to talk to family members and instead relied on their own inner strength and their belief in God.
For the second question, regarding stage of detection, most common answers were between stage 1-2. Only one survivor mentioned that she was diagnosed at stage 4.
For the third questions about the treatment process and their emotions during that, survivors expressed immense difficulty during the chemotherapy treatment process and some even described other complications (like having to be admitted to the ICU due to allergic shock) during the process. Almost all survivors felt extreme distress and depression when they lost their hair, because of the social trauma associated with a woman who has a bald head, as hair is a crowning glory and builds inner confidence.
For the fourth and final discussion question, about what message the survivors would give other women who were fighting this illness, answers ranged from believing in God and one’s own inner strength, never lose hope and always try to go in for early detection.
Fourth and final question was asked and discussed was that what the message that the 10 survivors would like to convey to other women who suffer from breast cancer, each one of the survivors gave a message as the next:
After the end of the FGD, a relaxation session was conducted by a psychotherapist from the Directorate of health (DoH) Ms. Galavej Jaffer to relax the survivors and help them acknowledge that they have support in those people around them who encouraged and supported them during their treatment process.
The event ended with the 10 survivors listening to a motivational song about their disease. Love and hope’s necklaces, bracelets and medals, roses and card with special messages were distributed with the aim of making them feel strong and acknowledging how they fought bravely to win their war against breast cancer.