Hi! I'm Iyna, one of the Trustees and a Cancer Survivor and here' my story!
It can`t be me! It just can`t! 30 years old, happy mum to an awesome 5-year-old with ADHD and a HR professional. It`s Cancer I was told. Hearing those words just seemed unreal. Living my worst nightmare! Seeing my life in flashback! But what I never knew was that those 2 horrid words would change my life forever. Change it for the better.
Wondering how? Well let me tell you!
Being diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer had to be the hardest thing I had ever heard. I went through 10 months of grueling treatments. Chemotherapy, Surgery and then Radiotherapy. Is it lonely? Do you feel isolated? Yep, you sure do! All these questions, all these side effects, not knowing what to expect and no one who truly and completely understands your journey. But what makes this journey that little bit harder is being from the South Asian Community.
I heard all sorts of things! Wear a black bra, the cancer will go away, you must have done something wrong in life, it’s a punishment from God, ignore the doctors and just pray. But I knew I couldn’t let all these views and opinions sway me from my goal. My goal to kick cancers butt. What I also learnt through all this was that there is a need for education, support and tailored care for patients within the South Asian community.
That’s when I found my purpose, my reason, my why! I knew that my goal wasn’t just to kick cancers butt, but it was to help and support South Asian women suffering from Breast Cancer.
Since finishing treatment, I have gone to discuss my experience and help spread awareness regarding cancer within the South Asian community. I have appeared on Victoria Derbyshire's show, did a documentary on BBC, various radio channels and also attended events & businesses as a guest speaker.
So here I am with the amazing Samina, who was my support network, who helped me through my journey and understood when all I wanted to do was talk. We are here together to make a difference, to help others suffering, to educate our community and make a difference!
Our aim is educate women, men and children in the South Asian community and raise the profile of Breast cancer & self checking.
Samina Hussain - Breast Cancer Survivor
When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2014 I was 45 years old and my world fell apart. I heard the doctor tell me Mrs Hussain you have Cancer and we will be in touch about your treatment plan. I felt so many emotions and wanted answers to “why me” for the first few weeks I did not want to discuss the C word I just need time to understand how my life had dramatically changed overnight. As I came to terms with my diagnosis and lifted my head, I found other woman that I could talk to. Admit-tingly not many from the South Asian community so I presumed this type of Cancer did not affect them, which was far from the truth. My coping mechanism was to share pictures and my journey on Facebook, this gave me great strength in connecting with others, I had an opportunity to say what I really felt without doing it in person, which also allowed me to feel the love and prayers from people around me. Once I had shared my journey other woman connected and shared stories of loosing either their mother or sister to Breast Cancer but were never allowed to discuss their grief, by me sharing my journey it gave them a platform to acknowledge their grief.
I came across a quote by Vivian Greene – “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain”. This quote had a powerful meaning that I could not just sit back and I need to keep going and dance in the rain as there is goodness in everything. I had surgery first lumpectomy then chemotherapy which has its complexities and then finished with a month of radiotherapy, during treatment I also had blood clot and spent many weeks in hospital. We all have trials and tribulations in life, but what truly gave me strength is surrounding myself with positive supportive people that did not judge me and just wanted to walk alongside me, God sent me an army.
Today I am strong tall and bold woman who is grateful for everyone that has walked alongside me, no one should do Cancer alone. As a patient, you go through so much, but your family too embarks on a painful journey watching their wife, mother sister go through this horrific journey.
Sakoon means tranquillity and peace and to overcome any adversity in life you need peace in your heart to begin the healing process. My faith teaches me that if you take from a system then you need to always give back. I am the Co-founder of Knit Your Socks Off, with Sbba who knitted my first pair of chemo socks and now we have 700 members on Facebook. We knit, stitch and crotchet thousands of items such socks for local chemotherapy unit, baby packs for neonatal units, hand twiddle mitts for dementia patients, trauma teddies and angel cribs for the maternity unit. I was also the winner of Sue Ryder Southern Woman of Courage award in 2016.
I met Iyna Butt at one of my chemotherapy sessions and was taken back how this disease had touched a beautiful young mother, I wrote my number down and handed it to her and said call if you need to chat. The vision of Sakoon was then created, as South Asian woman were affected by the disease but due to the taboo of Cancer and the challenges society and culture places upon them, their concerns where just not being heard. Since embarking on this journey I have participated in many media opportunities such as Victoria Derbyshire programme, various radio programmes, community events to raise the profile of Breast Cancer and self examination in the South Asian community.