In the fall 2008 issue of Network, Mary Issa Zwald shared the story of her cancer diagnosis and treatment. An Arab-American of Lebanese descent, she volunteered to appear on an Arabic television segment to raise awareness among Arabic speakers about breast cancer. She continues to support and encourage people facing cancer around the globe.
I'm a 12-year breast cancer survivor.
October brings lots of memories of the day I was diagnosed and began to follow my recommended treatment protocol.
I described my ordeal then as a storm with a black cloud, and wished it would disappear.
Today, I thank my lucky stars that I had the opportunity to be treated at MD Anderson. The research and treatment of breast cancer has greatly advanced. There are lots of caring and brilliant minds who oversee the treatment of each patient. I'm a validation of that personally tailored treatment.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's a global effort to encourage women to have their mammograms and do their monthly checkups.
For survivors, it's a time for reflection and gratitude toward those who've supported us and for our doctors who still care for us.
It's also a month of celebrations with family and friends and a chance to give thanks and raise funds for more research and advancements in this field.
A new perspective on priorities
Although having breast cancer has been a humbling experience, it's never changed my spirit.
Instead, it gave me a new perspective on my priorities in life. I'm more passionate about living and helping others as they journey through treatment.
Let's dream of a day when every woman will beat breast cancer. That day is on the horizon. I believe I will see it in my lifetime. I hope that MD Anderson's "moon shots" will be revolutionary and will help eradicate breast and other cancers.
To my brave sisters undergoing breast cancer treatment now, and to all survivors, I say, "Count your blessings and keep the faith. There's always a rainbow after a storm."