Story: Sarah Cooper
Naheed Shafiq was 33 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in January this year. She told the Messenger her story.
How was your cancer diagnosed?
I got two sharp, really bad pains in my chest, I thought, ‘I’m having a heart attack!’ After that I found a little lump, it was so tiny, like a frozen pea. I decided to go to the doctor, and I asked for a lady doctor. She thought it could be a cyst, but said I could be referred to the hospital, or leave it for 6 weeks to see if it grew. I don’t know what it was, but I said ‘No, I want to be referred to the hospital”
What happened next?
They did an ultrascan and then a biopsy. 2 or 3 days later I was called in for a mammogram. Then we went to talk to the consultant about the results. She just came out with it, ‘I’m afraid it’s cancer.’
My husband shot up with the shock. Even though I was shocked, I was numb for a while trying to take it in. When I told my Mum and Dad they were upset, they started panicking a bit. But they said, ‘Don’t worry, they’ve got treatment nowadays, you’ve got to be brave.’ It was really hard for my husband though.
What was it like having treatment?
I had the first surgery done and they removed the lump. It was really hard afterwards, I felt weak and it was painful. I had a lot of phone calls from friends! I was so touched by how many people came round to see me. I’ve never had so many flowers and chocolates in my whole life! I felt so loved, I don’t think I could have come through without all those people coming round, reassuring me.
I went back to the hospital for chemotherapy, I felt so horrible for days afterwards. After the second dose my hair started falling out. That week was so difficult. It was on my clothes, in the carpet, going in my food. So I cut it short which was a relief, and I started wearing a scarf.
Then I went back for more surgery. The good news was, the cancer hadn’t spread in the breast. So then I started 40 sessions of radiotherapy. I finished in the first week of October. I was so relieved that is was over and done with! The doctors said everything seemed to have gone really well. I’ll go back in December to have a mammogram again just to check everything’s ok.
I’ve gone back to normal, taking the kids to school, to football. I’m myself again, but I do get really tired. I’ve enrolled for a few courses. I’m doing GCSE English and a Health and Social care course. And I’m doing breast care awareness training, telling my story. I’ve done a little talk at the Fir Vale advice centre.
What would you tell people about breast care awareness?
You have to take action and take it seriously. It’s really important that you do check yourself.. We’ve got the best hospitals here in Sheffield, we’ve got the facilities, the only thing is yourself, you have to be aware and push yourself to act.
People think it’s embarrassing, but it’s not. And it’s not the end of the world if you’ve got breast cancer.