For people facing a cancer diagnosis, hearing from others who have been through the same journey as them can be a great source of hope, comfort and support. Nusrat Charolia’s story of resilience and strength while battling cancer is one that does indeed, radiate hope and inspiration.
“I first detected a lump in my right breast about a year ago.” says Nusrat, a 46-year-old mother, wife and now, a cancer survivor. Having no family history of breast cancer, she did not expect to be embarking on this treatment journey in her middle age.
“I immediately went for a medical consult from a doctor, who told me to wait it out and see how it progresses.”
Nusrat remained unsatisfied by that advice and decided to reach out a neighborhood friend, who was a breast cancer survivor herself. Her friend referred her to Dr. Lubna Mushtaque Vohra, a consultant breast surgeon at AKUH.
After her initial tele-consult with Dr Lubna, Nusrat was advised to undergo a biopsy so that the lump in her right breast can be assessed for the diagnosis. Nusrat still remembers how scared she was and, on some level perhaps, knew it was cancer. Unfortunately, the biopsy did confirm her worst fear. She had stage-I breast cancer.
“I still consider myself fortunate to have been diagnosed early.” she remarked with a breaking voice, as she recalled her emotional journey.
After processing the initial fear and shock, Nusrat being the strong woman that she is, accepted and surrendered her fate to Allah.
“I kept telling myself, whatever happens now, happens. I will fight it with everything I have, and the rest is in the hands of Allah.”
However, her brave demeanor faltered when her 15-year-old daughter Arf, found out about her mother’s illness. As she reflected upon her daughter’s support during her fight, Nusrat became overwhelmed with emotion and had to pause and take a few moments to compose herself.
“My daughter was my rock during this fight. She has been the biggest source of my strength and support.” She said while wiping her tears. “We both stayed strong for each other’s sake. She would be juggling her studies and house chores for me willingly. It has made our mother/daughter bond even stronger.”
After her diagnosis, Nusrat was given the hard choice of choosing between a lumpectomy and mastectomy. Although, it is an extremely difficult choice to make for any woman, Nusrat’s cheer squad was her strongest support system that stood by her through every waking minute.
“I wish no woman should have to make this choice. But, my husband’s support was unconditional. He told me that he will stand by me, no matter what path I decide to take.”
Nusrat wanted to minimise the chances of relapse as much as possible. Hence, she proceeded with the option of mastectomy.
On 4 May 2020, she went through the surgery with her brave face on. Since the cancer was diagnosed at an early stage and had not spread, she did not have to undergo chemotherapy.
“Initially, I was concerned to undergo a major surgery during the pandemic. But, seeing the safety precautions at AKUH really helped put my mind at ease.” said Nusrat, while recalling the day of her surgery. “They would not risk my safety and ensured I got tested for COVID-19 before the surgery.”
Following the successful mastectomy performed by Dr. Lubna, Nusrat was happy to be discharged the very next day. She was excited to go back home to her daughter Arf, who could not visit due to visiting restrictions at the hospital during the pandemic.
Speaking of her experience with the doctors, Nusrat had nothing but praises for them. She commended the medical team at AKUH, who treated her with so much compassion. While Dr. Lubna gave her personal contact number in case of medical emergencies and / or queries, Dr. Azmina Tajdin provided her a lifesaving tele-consultation.
“I truly believe no hospital can compete with AKUH’s standard of care and facilities.”
Four months into recovery, Nusrat is grateful to God for granting her a new life. She has a renewed and positive attitude that keeps her going and is satisfied with her treatment plan at AKUH.
“My heart brims with gratitude for my doctors and my family, who never once let me give up. In my darkest moments, they all were the driving force behind my strength.”