​No Mountain Is Too High: A Triumph Over Breast Cancer​​


Arzoo Saltanat, a cancer survivor, has this message for all women:

"Look after your body. Have regular check-ups and seek professional help immediately if you feel that something is wrong. Don't ignore symptoms, as I did. I did not know what the consequences of ignoring my health would be." 

Arzoo Saltanat is a native of Gilgit, a mountainous region to the north of Pakistan. For the last three years, an ordeal has overshadowed Arzoo's life: her fight against cancer. Arzoo seems too delicate to have fought off cancer - and too young to have been diagnosed with it in the first place.

But cancer strikes women regardless of their race, ethnicity, age or occupation.

Sadly, Arzoo detected something unusual in her breasts, but ignored the symptoms of her illness for several months. She was unaware of the risk of breast cancer. She was also busy pursuing her job and professional interests in Karachi, after moving here from Gilgit in 2008. Finally, her younger sister, who is a student of nursing at the Aga Khan University, suggested that she have a check up.

A visit to Aga Khan University Hospital saved Arzoo's life. A test result revealed that she had breast cancer. Dr Shaisa, her physician, recommended surgery and went as far as speaking to Arzoo's parents, in order to motivate her to start treatment for the illness. 

Arzoo was very scared after she heard her diagnosis.

"I had heard so much about the side effects of chemotherapy, that I said I would rather die than undergo the treatment!" Arzoo exclaims.

With the encouragement and support of Dr Shaista and the team at the AKUH, as well her family, Arzoo continued her treatment and then her follow-up visits for three years.

Her fight against cancer was no less difficult than climbing a mountain in her native Gilgit. After multiple surgeries and the loss of her breast, Arzoo had to undergo twelve sessions of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy and regular injections. Yet she made it to the mountain summit.

"Now the doctors say that everything is perfect and my test results are finally coming clear" says Arzoo, with some relief.

Arzoo is full of praise for the quali​ty of care and the kindness of the medical team at the AKUH and the "personal interest" they took in her well-being. 

She was also assisted financially by the Patient Welfare Programme when the cost of the treatment was too high for her family to bear.

Today, Arzoo is learning about sewing and cutting, to pursue a career in fashion design. Her life has finally returned to normal.

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