November 1, 2017

The American University in the Emirates has marked the Breast Cancer Awareness month with its 4th event regarding this matter, to spread awareness and educate students, staff, and faculty about this global disease.

Speaking at the event were Dr. Sabiha Banerjee, OBG specialist from the Canadian Specialist Hospital, and Dr. Bassant Eyada, Department Chair of the college of Media and Mass communication, who is a Breast Cancer survivor.

Opening the event, Dr. Sabiha explained what cancer is, and highlighted that in the USA, one in every 8 women suffers from breast cancer, which sends a strong message to women to gain awareness and do early checks, in her opinion.

Dr. Banerjee highlighted the factors that can help women avoid breast cancer, starting with maintaining a healthy weight and healthy eating habits, backing her statements with research that has been done to determine the causes of breast cancer which included causes such: eating allot of meat, obesity and fast food. “Exercising helps prevent different types of cancers, and helps maintain the appropriate level of estrogen, which is what cancer feeds on”, the doctor said.

Dr. Sabiha proceed to warn young men about the danger of taking protein supplements without the prescription and supervision of a nutritionist, and how those supplements can be the number one cause of breast cancer among men.

Emphasizing on the importance of self-assessments and awareness regarding the disease, Dr. Banerjee discussed the different women’s categories that have higher chances of getting a breast cancer and how early checking can save lives.

Dr. Banerjee reflected her own experience with women and mammogram. “Most Women who visit me are always afraid of mammogram and they refuse to do it, because it causes a significant discomfort, but that would last 25 minutes maximum and can be an excellent tool for detecting cancer before it spreads to the rest of the body” she said.

Dr. Sabiha revealed, “Monthly self-examination of the breast and clinical examination when the woman feels that something is wrong, are the ways to detect the cancer so it can be treated in its early stages”. The lower the stage of cancer the higher are the chances of survival, according to her.

Continuing the discussion, Dr. Bassant on the other hand, shared her experience through a very emotional video that documented her journey and battle against Breast Cancer. In her first day of her journey, Dr. Bassant didn’t believe what was said to her by the doctor, she told her family the news and decided to just close on the subject and just continue her day with running her errands like she usually does. “I didn’t want to believe any of it, I was living in denial”, Dr. Bassant said. “I was going around looking for a doctor who would reassure me and tell me that this is not it, there’s more into my life” she added.

Dr. Bassant shared that, when her journey started with cancer, she did not know much about the disease, and about its consequences and treatment. Then she proceeded to talk about her journey from the day of the surgery to the Chemo treatment. “The morning of my surgery I felt that it was the last day of my life, but after I went out of that operation room alive, I knew there’s more waiting for me.” She said.

“After my first session of Chemo, I was feeling an extreme pain, I felt like someone was beating me till he broke my bones, every single bone in my body, the pain was unbearable, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. But my daughter’s presence with me during the session gave me hope, made me feel that this is not the end”, she added.

Dr. Bassant followed up on the pain and changes that she went through, from hair fall, to stomach pain, to the weakness of her immune system and her loss for ability to taste and her fears and fights. “I used to see death in a form of a human being that used to appear every single day standing there in front of me and tell me it’s time to go” she said.

As a Cancer patient, Dr. Bassant experienced radical changes in her body that made her appreciate all the things that others didn’t feel the value of; “During that journey, I felt that Allah blessed me with so many messages that made me appreciate life and being alive”, she added.

“When I finished the Chemo, it was the happiest day of my life, the man who represented death to me disappeared for good” said the brave Dr. Bassant. “The most important thing in life is to fight our fears, and fight whichever thing we think we are incapable of doing, fight today, win tomorrow, nothing is impossible” she added.

According to Dr. Bassant, the video was a chance for people to see cancer from a survivor or a patient point of view rather than a medical, statistical point of view.

The event was concluded with questions to the speakers, where the audience got to interact and show support. Also, other activities were organized in campus, including a self-assessment corner for the ladies, and a makeup station provided by Pink Polo where staff and students got the chance to visit.