Medina’s sister, Nadia, found out she had breast cancer when she was just 23. She tells us how scary it was to see her younger sibling go through treatment, and how she did her best to help.
I encouraged Nadia to go to the doctor
It was a few weeks into lockdown when Nadia came to me about a weird lump on her breast. I don’t think she was regularly checking her breasts, but she had just happened to feel it.
We weren’t initially concerned, and she thought to leave it until after lockdown as it didn’t seem urgent. We’d had a friend who had a similar scare not long before, but found out it was a cyst - which is probably why we didn’t think anything was up.
However, I encouraged her to just check with the doctor as a precaution.
When she was in the appointment, she was taking longer than we thought. We assumed it would be a simple diagnosis and she probably just needed some antibiotics.
When Nadia told us the results, it didn’t feel real. We thought we’d misheard her. I never imagined I would hear those words from her.
We all pulled together to support her
I wanted to do as much research about breast cancer as I could, but then I realised I would be getting other people’s personal experiences and not Nadia’s.
As a family, we arranged for her to be taken to and from appointments and to support her as best as we could. I made sure I worked around her appointments so that she didn’t have to have any extra stress from her many visits to hospital.
We of course wanted the treatment to get rid of the cancer, but we knew Nadia would have a massive physical change on the outside.
She took great pride in her hair and eyebrows, which were her signature look. We all knew that her hair would grow back, but it still made the whole process harder for her. To see her struggling through treatment and to also lose part of her identity was heart-breaking.
I had never experienced something like this, so it was difficult to understand what she was going through, but I made sure to let her know that her health coming back was what she needed to focus on.
The best thing I could do was distract her
Nadia hates any type of pity or constantly being told everything will be okay, and I knew she would already be hearing that enough from other people. So, I made sure that, throughout her treatments, especially during lockdown, she would have reason to laugh at least a few times a day.
Although she had an amazing team of doctors, I knew that the best I could do was to make sure she stayed strong enough to fight everything.
I made sure she wasn’t left by herself too much, that she wasn’t overwhelmed. We would binge-watch Netflix and take part in holiday stuff such as pumpkin carving and bonfire-making - something we'd never done before.
I also wanted to surprise her with a day spent with her favourite dog breeds down in West Wittering. Seeing her face light up after everything she went through was the best thing I could have given her.
We also discussed practical things such as how we would style her hair, and looked at alternatives like wigs. This helped ease the pressure of what she went through physically as well.
Nobody is too young for breast cancer
You always have this sense of ‘it won’t happen to me’, but we see enough news about breast cancer to know that it exists.
Self-check is one of the most important things anyone can do for their health. Nadia only by chance found the lump - which was quite a large lump - without doing any regular, thorough checks.
What was even worse was that Nadia remembers having another issue when she was younger and thinking nothing of it. We were so worried when waiting for the scans to come back, and just hoped it hadn’t been there long enough to spread.
Cancer doesn’t care who you are or how old you are. We never imagined Nadia being so young and having cancer; even the doctors couldn’t believe it. It just goes to show it’s so important to check at any age.
Medina and Nadia 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.