To mark World Cancer Day on February 4, 2023, we spoke to cancer survivor Najma Mandsaurwala of the Miami community of Dawoodi Bohras.
“Early detection saves lives. Take charge of your health and recognize any unusual changes in your body. This can catch many types of cancers at an early stage and almost always makes it easier to treat and cure it.”
So says Najma Mandsaurwala of the Miami community of Dawoodi Bohras. Najma has personal experience of fighting and conquering cancer. She was only 47 years old when, during knee surgery, her pre-op clearance tests showed that she was anemic. Her doctor sent her for more tests, including a mammogram that detected an abnormality that was smaller than half-a-grain of rice.
This was completely unexpected as Najma has no history of cancer in her family. She had surgery to remove the mass but further testing led the doctor’s to recommend a mastectomy. After recovery, she was put on a course of chemo- and radiation-therapy.
At that time, in 2004, Najma’s husband was not keeping well either, and her sons were still young. Her family insisted that she undergo chemo- and radiation-therapies in India.
Najma was scheduled to have nine cycles of chemo-therapy, one every three weeks, in Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai. It took her 19 months to complete all chemo-therapy sessions, followed by 45 sessions of radiation therapy.
During those bleak months, Najma’s faith kept her upbeat. “I would pray to God that if you want me to be here then I don’t want to be dependent on anyone, else take me,” she reflected. With tears rolling down her face, Najma said that she would not want her worst enemy to go through this disease.
Najma’s message to everyone is “Go for regular checkups and try to be stress-free.”
Najma has been cancer-free for 20 years.