Suchita Dsouza relied on the strength of her friends and family to get through her treatment for breast cancer.
Cancer survivor says she would not be here without family's love
DUBAI //Sleeplessness haunted the nights when Suchita Dsouza awaited her biopsy results.
"I though what is happening? This can't be true," said Ms Dsouza, from India. "I cried and cried, I didn't want to hear this upsetting news."
For months, her friend had been advising her to conduct a "well-woman check-up".
After giving birth to her second child, Ms Dsouza decided it was time for a full exam.
Her mammogram highlighted an area of concern, and she went to the American Hospital Dubai for a consultation with a surgeon. He scheduled her for a biopsy immediately.
After five restless nights the news was not good. But the moment Ms Dsouza received the official diagnosis of stage three breast cancer, she was surprised by her strength.
"My husband was more shaken up; he was emotionally devastated," she said. "He held me and I could tell he was trying to stay strong for my sake. I wouldn't cry. I looked at the doctor and I felt I knew he could take care of me."
After getting a second opinion from her family doctor in India confirming the diagnosis, Ms Dsouza returned to the UAE for the surgery.
"The doctor told me that he would try his best to save my right breast but he would only know once he started operating," she said. "At that point I thought, 'Lord, please let me just receive a lumpectomy'."
When Ms Dsouza awoke from surgery, she discovered her right breast had been removed.
"The doctor informed me that the cancer had spread too much and it was necessary," she said. "Even my lymph nodes were removed. At that point, I was just happy the cancer was gone."
From February to May, Ms Dsouza received eight cycles of chemotherapy. Throughout her ordeal, the support of her family and loved ones did not waver.
Her employer was understanding and allowed her to take a week of rest for every chemotherapy session.
A mother of two boys, Ms Dsouza said enduring the physical and emotional effects of treatment would not have been possible without the help of her family.
"When you're going through chemotherapy, you lose your hair, your eyebrows, your eyelashes. You look like a nightmare," she said. "But my husband never allowed me to feel any less of a woman. He always pushed me to stay positive. "
It is moments like these that test a person's resilience and determination, Ms Dsouza said. But such traits are reinforced by the love of the people around you. "I felt like I had been thrown into the deep sea when I didn't know how to swim," she said. "But all of sudden, there were rescue boats all around me."
For a list of Breast Cancer Awareness Month events, please go to bitly.com/bcamevents