Cancer survivor Josette Awwad is the co-founder of Azyaamode and JALC Luxury Consultancy. She shares a few intimate details from her journey battling cancer to help those in a similar place
Early detection: Breast cancer is often easier to treat when it’s detected in its early stages. Early detection not only improves your chances of overcoming breast cancer but it can also mitigate some of the challenges your children or loved ones may face during this difficult time. Regular screenings can catch it before it spreads to other parts of the body, which was my case. I would highly recommend screening at an appropriate age, which is usually recommended at around 40, or earlier if there’s a family history or other risk factors, but I would say that it is best to start earlier, which in my case was as early as 30.
Dealing with anxiety: I was blessed from day one as I was guided by Dr. Houriya Kazim and then I chose to fly back to my home country in Lebanon for the necessary treatment. Together with my specialised doctors, I decided to move forward with a double mastectomy even though my cancer was on the left breast. Post operation, it took me a while to proceed with the next stage of breast reconstruction, and this is a personal choice for every woman, so it is best to choose what works for you. A prompt diagnosis and treatment plan can reduce the anxiety and uncertainty that a cancer diagnosis can bring to your family.
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Emotional wellbeing: I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of wellbeing, especially if you have a family, and are a mother. Women are the centre of each family and if you are mentally and emotionally well, everyone around you will feel safe and secure. When breast cancer is detected at an early stage, the chances of successful treatment and survival are significantly higher. This means you have a better chance of being there for your children as they grow up. Your parents, children and loved ones will find it less distressing when they understand what’s happening and see that you are receiving appropriate care. I believe that my greatest emotional support came from my family and faith. You need to have faith that every loss will lead you to other things that are better for you. Having open and honest communication with everyone will impact so many lives.
Helping children cope: A positive attitude can be a powerful life lesson for your children. From you, they can learn about strength, courage and the importance of facing challenges head-on. Children may experience a range of emotions when a parent is diagnosed with breast cancer, but early detection can help minimise the emotional toll. Seeking professional counselling or involving support groups can offer additional emotional support for both you and your children.
- Interview by Odelia Mathews