Asad and Sania were not yet married when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. He tells us how their future suddenly felt uncertain, and why Sania’s treatment brought them closer together.
I wasn’t with her when she got the news
Being a doctor, Sania was very aware of the benefits of checking her breasts regularly. She found the lump herself, but – given that she was only 24 at the time – we were both a bit blasé about it. Still, she made a point to get it checked by her GP as soon as possible.
I was at work when she called to tell me her diagnosis. One of my biggest regrets was not going with her to her appointment. I really thought that, at our age, she was invincible – but she called me on the phone and the second I answered I knew life had changed.
I left work and went home straight away. I cycled through disbelief, anger, and tears. I was so afraid I may lose the woman I love.
I wished I could take her place
Waiting for the full diagnosis and the scans were the worst two weeks of our lives.
I had always planned to marry Sania and was hoping to do it in the not-too-distant future. We were waiting for some more money for the wedding and house, but in that moment all my life plans were gone, and nothing but making sure she would be OK mattered to me.
Unfortunately, being the loved one, you can only look on helplessly. I felt useless that I could not fix this for her, and I wished it was me that was in her place.
Being a doctor myself, I knew all the statistics and the worst-case scenarios. I spent hours poring over medical journals and papers, going through all my textbooks finding out as much as I could, but all you see are the negative outcomes.
I found solace in strangers on the Macmillan website and tried to cling to any positivity.
Meanwhile, Sania had such resolve. She was so strong; she knew she would get over this and continue her life. However, I could see the cracks and did what I could to support her, and in private moments would hold her when she couldn’t keep up her defences.
Fertility treatments offered some relief
We had to make some big decision regarding fertility, but I knew I wanted her to be in my life so I was happy to fertilise the eggs Sania had preserved.
As a man, I don’t think I could ever comprehend the idea of a woman as young as Sania having to face a possibility of not being able to have children, but she went through it with such strength. I could see a wave of relief when we preserved her eggs: an insurance policy a young woman should never have to take out.
When she began treatment, it was quite a safe feeling in a way. Finally, something was being done for her. I could be there to support her emotionally and physically and I felt useful again.
Still, every night I felt pure fear wondering what could happen.
We became so much closer to our families
Sania was not herself during her treatment. The drugs were so strong that she was either sleeping or too hazy.
I could see that not being at work was hard for her, but she took that time to be with her family. We all became so close to each other by sharing feelings you wouldn’t normally consider when the world is right. There was nothing left to hide from each other.
Going for the treatment scans was so difficult for both of us. We waited to see if all the pain she went through had been worth it, and thankfully we did see positive results. That gave us the hope we needed to continue.
I will always remember the best day of my life: when Sania got a call from her consultant saying there was no evidence of disease. It was the biggest relief and for the first time in around a year I could breathe again.
But this was quickly followed by fear. ‘She’s safe for now,’ is all I could think.
Life is so precious
We worked through it all by being honest and open with each other.
This isn't a scenario you ever expect to be in, and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it. Your mind goes to the darkest areas you never thought existed.
I’d say it’s important to be honest in your pitfalls if you think you’re finding it difficult as the partner. Positivity is the most important thing. Believe and plan as if things will be OK, remind each other that life will return to normal, that this is not forever, and that you will laugh again, you will feel normal again.
Through all this, you realise life is so precious. Every moment, every touch – being together is so much sweeter than it was before. Even though what we went through was so horrific, it brought us closer together and made us stronger.
I have my best friend back and life is better than I could have ever imagined.
Checking your breasts is essential
As a doctor, I can say there is no reason not to check your breasts. Don’t be afraid to know your body and don’t be afraid to ask your GP if something is different.
The sooner breast cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be. You may be 24 or 60, or anywhere either side or in between. Cancer can strike at any age.
You know yourself best, so if something isn’t right, tell your doctor about it.
Asad and Sania are sharing their story as part of ghd’s Take Control Now campaign in partnership with Breast Cancer Now. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of regularly checking your breasts, for both yourself and your loved ones.
£10 from every purchase of the Take Control Now collection in the UK will go to Breast Cancer Now.