(Part IV) Life After Breast Cancer:
Seeing the Light in Adversity
The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.
In our four-part series celebrating the women who’ve emerged stronger after a battle with breast cancer, we speak to them to find out what’s their story and how they managed to overcome the odds.
Siti Dzaleha was a working professional at a multinational corporation when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As part of the company’s annual mammogram screening, Siti went for hers as usual and was tested negative. However, on a fateful day less than a year after her mammogram, Siti felt a sudden prickly sensation in her left breast. Despite this diagnosis, she believed that cancer was not a death sentence and remained positive.
Siti, who is now in her 40s, has successfully beaten cancer into remission for 5 years now.
Could you share with us about your cancer journey?
Siti: I was working when I was diagnosed. Back in October 2012, I did my yearly mammogram screening and as usual, it was negative. However, one night sometime in July 2013, I suddenly felt a prickly sensation (not pain) on my left breast, which persisted for the next 2 days. I informed my husband about this but he reminded me that it could be due to my period that was about to come, but unfortunately the lump remained even after my menses came. That was the period I decided to inform my company’s doctor and went to Parkway East hospital for a check-up.
What stage were you diagnosed with?
Siti: A mammogram was conducted and they found a suspiciously shaped area on my left side of the breast. I was sent to see a specialist immediately for more tests. There, at the hospital, I went for a few tests and 3 days later, I was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer. I informed my family members in the most positive way possible until they were convinced that cancer is NOT a death sentence and that we all should fight this together.
Siti and fellow breast cancer survivor, Lily Chan
What kind of surgery did you undergo?
Siti: My initial surgery to remove the lump was a success. The road to recovery was smooth and fast until it was time for my first chemotherapy which was about a month later. In total, I went for 18 cycles of chemotherapy. I later underwent reconstruction surgery of one breast.
Having faith in my oncologist, I simply followed all his instructions. Thus, my journey was not as painful as I had imagined. I managed to control my condition very well. It’s all about mind power.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself through your cancer journey?
Siti: Being patient and super positive by telling myself daily that I am going to be well again really soon. It sure helped that I was being treated like a queen by my family!
What advice would you like to give women who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Siti: Set your mind, take control of your body and then fight, fight, fight and never give up! NEVER take your health for granted. Take time to do a mammogram yearly especially when you reach 40 years of age. We may be healthy today but in the next six months, we might have a new deadly “companion”. Never take any chances. Early detection does save lives.
Share with us a special memory between you and your husband.
Siti: My husband was always with me and always showing me love in spite of my condition. He would always take me out on dates by bringing me to watch movies, dining at my favourite eating places and or going on spontaneous escapes to Malaysia for a day trip just to spend time together.
Siti’s pillar of support – her husband
Describe your relationship with Siti.
Siti’s husband: We are close knitted and very loving as always. Her courage is very inspiring and I admire her positive spirit to fight and live. She is my other half – hence, she is my soul.
How did you give her strength while she was battling breast cancer?
Siti’s husband: I kept telling her that my kids and I still need her and we need her to get well very soon.
What do you want to tell/encourage her?
Siti’s husband: Remain strong and keep telling yourself that you’ll NEVER allow cancer to ever “visit” you again.
Do you have any tips and advice for the loved ones who have family/friends suffering from breast cancer?
Siti’s husband: Never give up and tell those affected that cancer is not a death sentence. It can be automatically cured with a positive mindset, happiness and strong will to live.
Early detection can help save lives.
Go pink in the month of October for the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign (1 – 31 Oct) - in collaboration with Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF), show your support when you purchase the specially designed Peony Bow Flats.
Priced at $79, this limited-edition pair will be available at all
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