October 30, 2016 12:00 AM | by The Fustany Team
Pink Fighters: Naila Zaher Tells Us About Handling Breast Cancer Like a Boss
I'm Naila Mostafa Zaher, I'm a 43-year-old woman, I'm a wife, and a mother of two boys who are 18 and 13 years old. I've been working since the day I graduated up until this minute, and I consider myself one of the luckiest people ever, as I've always worked in a field that I love and admire! I always had a passion towards whatever I did; work never felt like a commitment or something that I had to do. I studied Mass Communication at The American University in Cairo, and ever since I graduated I loved advertising, selling, positioning brands to target audiences, etc.
When I had my first baby, I had decided to give my 9-to-5 job in advertising a break as it was tough, and I started doing some wedding planning back in the early 2000s. However, I got back to the communications business, and worked for 10 years at Momentum Worldwide Egypt. I also had the chance to establish a preschool with a partner, given my experience with raising up my kid, along with my Momentum Worldwide Egypt job.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I can tell you that my life has literally changed ever since that moment.
My journey with breast cancer started when I felt a little bit of pain in my breasts, and I could tell there's a little lump. It used to hurt me when I put my hands on it, and I always heard that if a lump hurts you, it's probably nothing to worry about. (Turns out it's completely a myth!) Meanwhile, I was moving to a new home along with my family, and we were also busy preparing our summer home for the holiday. I tried not to think about it, and said it's probably not the right time to do anything about it.
In addition to that, my mum used to tell me about how much a mammogram hurts, physically and emotionally, and I thought that I would never do that to myself. That's why I never shared my concerns with anyone! But that was until the day I met a friend of mine, who mentioned that she had recently done a mammogram, and explained that it didn't hurt at all. So, I decided to do the investigation after all.
As I found out I had breast cancer, everything seemed to move on so quickly. I visited the doctor, who told me that the tumor is cancerous and that it had to taken away instantly, and that I had to start with a biopsy to determine the cancer stage. Later that night, I shared the news with my husband, and then all my family and friends started knowing, and I had an amazing support. Everybody was there for me, and as they cried, I always laughed and smiled, and told them that it's okay, and that God always has the best plan for us.
Afterwards, I decided not to stop my life's routine. I never stopped working, even during radiations and chemo-sessions. I never wanted anyone to feel that I'm weak, I just wanted to act normal. In fact, this helped me a lot - not to be depressed or give in to sickness. Doing so helped me to pass an ugly year of tests, hospitals tiredness and pressure. Actually, I continued with both jobs along the way; being the General Manager of Momentum Worldwide Egypt, and running my own nursery.
Then after a year, when I finished the cancer treatment and I was back to myself again, I decided that I owe it to myself to discover a little bit of fun in life, so I had to quit one job. It was a hard decision, but I decided that education has more continuity and more positive impact; I get to have much more involvement in the next generations to come. So I quit from my advertising career, and it took them nine whole months to accept my resignation!
Now, I'm out and about, focusing on my business and I hope that one day I can contribute in providing a new style of education and learning to as many kids as possible. As Egyptians, we're certainly in need of this, we need to know how to handle creative skills, language, etc. We can't go on with the same style of education where we just obeyed our teachers, we need the upcoming generation to learn better and explore more, based on techniques that include fun and games. I hope I can live to see this generation growing up and actually becoming what I believe in.
Cancer has affected me in so many ways, and what I want to tell everyone is that you can prepare yourself to positively face it. You have to be ready. You have to know what kind of health deterioration you and your body will be going through, in order to be ready for it. When you know what your body will go through, you'll be better prepared, for example, knowing that you'd be having a dry mouth, etc. You can help yourself by having sugar-free sweets, lots of water and fresh juices to treat your dry mouth. You can also have a wig ready if you'll be going through chemotherapy and you'll be losing your hair.
Most importantly, take every step at a time. Don't overthink. Try to limit thinking about the future, and combating negative thoughts, like what will happen six months from now, and what if cancer comes back again. Just think of the day you're living and enjoying every single minute of it, without having any worries. Leave the future to God! You have to have faith, and know that everything happens according to God's will.
Lastly, we live in a world that treats cancer as a major threat, but at the end of the day, it's just like any other disease. People die for many reasons, and cancer shouldn't scare you. As I previously mentioned, cancer has changed my outlook on life, I'm appreciating life much more, I'm appreciating all the love and care around me from my family and friends. Now, I always try to show my love for people, and I know that life extremely short; don't feel upset about anything, unless it's something really harmful. Everything shall pass!
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