Joan Resta delayed seeking medical help despite experiencing a constant pain in her right breast.
The 43-year-old Filipino mother of two, living in the United Arab Emirates, described herself as healthy and aware of the risks of breast cancer.
However, she when she noticed changes in her breasts, she ignored her fears and is now urging others to not do the same.
“At first, I experienced pain in my right breast, but I thought it would go away soon,” she told Al Arabiya English. “Soon the pain increased, and I went to see the doctor.”
“He told me it was benign, and I took it lightly. But in a few months, the pain started increasing and I felt the lump was growing.”
“I consulted another doctor for a second opinion, and he found out that it was cancerous. When I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, I was scared. But thanks to the support of an excellent medical team, I am now grateful to be cancer-free.”
“I used to be the person who would go for breast cancer awareness programs every October and wear pink in solidarity. However, I neglected the routine screenings.”
“Please take care of yourselves and get checked regularly. Listen to the doctors and nurses as they have the necessary education to ensure that we get proper treatment.”
Another UAE resident, Jennifer Gonzalez Diaz, was diagnosed with stage 3 triple-positive breast cancer in 2017, aged just 34.
“My baby boy was only 6 months old at the time,” the Spanish expatriate recalled. “I was breastfeeding my baby when I felt a lump in my right breast.”
“I was told it was probably mastitis (an inflammation of breast tissue that sometimes involves an infection), but it wasn’t.”
“I had to go through chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy to remove my breasts. It was a shock as I was very active and fit, and nobody in my family had ever experienced this type of disease.”
“Today, I am still under hormonal suppressant treatment. But I am well and happy to be alive.”
“Regardless of your age, please go to your doctor and do your gynecology test. Check your breasts once a month as well. It is important. You are important. Do regular checkups so you can live a long and healthy life.”
“And if you do have a cancer diagnosis, remember that it is not the end. You can and you will beat this: surround yourself with the best doctors and your loved ones as well. And don’t hesitate to ask for help.”
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is marked in countries across the world every October and aims to help increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of the disease.