Fifty-year-old Syed Raza Naqvi was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and has started treatment. On Saturday, he seemed to be in good spirits as he strolled around a lawn at the Aga Khan University Hospital where many cancer survivors shared their stories and thoroughly enjoyed themselves with yoga sessions, lucky draws and music.
“It’s very encouraging to see so many people here who have fought the disease,” said Naqvi. “I am hopeful that with willpower, I will also be cured.”
The medical institution had put together the event to celebrate Cancer Survivors Day and encourage patients recently diagnosed with the disease to fight it by showing them success stories. “The biggest hurdle to treatment is misconceptions many people have,” said Dr Nehal Masood, the head the hospital’s oncology department. “They make people waste a lot of crucial time and sometimes keep patients from seeking treatment.” One of the myths floating around is that a biopsy to test for the presence of the illness can increase the rate at it which it progresses. But Dr Masood said that this fear is baseless as there is no scientific evidence to back it up. He added that many types of cancers can be cured.
Muhammad Khursheed, a 68-year-old cancer survivor said he regrets not approaching doctors immediately after he was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in 2007. The diagnosis had shaken him badly and he had slipped into depression. “Only when I went to the doctors did me and family find the hope and courage to battle the disease,” said Khursheed. “Despite the delay in starting treatment and the loss of an eye, I am just like anyone my age.”
Dr Adnan Jabbar reiterated the fact that people need to understand that cancer is not a death sentence. “It is the job of family members, friends and doctors to provide patients hope and courage to seek treatment and fight the disease.”
Haseena Moin, prominent author and a recipient of the Pride of Performance award, said that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was halfway through writing a drama. But she valiantly fought the disease and has now been cured. “I always had hoped that with a lot of love, people will give me a reason to live. The experience helped me understand the life of people who have been fighting the disease.” She said that a television channel will soon telecast a drama written by her on this topic.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2013.