Image Credit: Supplied

"Being in PR, I’m used to promoting brands and services, but never myself…after all I’m Gen X, the pre-millennial group that simply cannot understand why anybody would be interested in what I do, say, think, wear, eat. 

Due to lack of time and energy as a working mother, I struggle to maintain a half decent Instagram feed, but I realize that anyone who is anyone in my industry simply has to have a social media presence, and Facebook is simply used as a convenient way of keeping in touch with friends and family. 

However when I was asked to write about my cancer journey, I didn’t hesitate.  If sharing my experience helps to inspire one single person out there who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, or has a close friend or relative going through it and wants to understand how best to provide support, then it’s absolutely worth putting myself out there. 

The fact is that before I had cancer (BC), I didn’t really know of anyone who had it, it was something that happened to ‘other people’ and now, it quite literally seems to be everywhere.”

How can I have been such an ostrich before?  I think the C word is just too terrifying to have its existence acknowledged, so you simply block it out. 


So much so than when I noticed a lump in my left breast while on a family vacation doing an intensive week of the theme parks of Orlando in early August 2015, I ignored it for about 3 months. 

On holiday in Disney, when I first noticed the lump [Supplied]

I was feeling perfectly well and healthy and so I allowed myself to live in denial, concluding that it was nothing to worry about. 

The weird thing is that for a couple of years before this, I had wondered if I might have cancer, as my immune system seemed to be not working at all, and then told myself I was being paranoid and ridiculous.  I kept falling sick and not getting better for weeks on end, and it occurred to me that maybe my body was working hard to fight something else. 

It harked back to something my OB-GYN had said to me when I first discovered I was pregnant six years before.  I had become very ill after a night out and didn’t understand it, and she told me that the body would have been concentrating on its most important job of protecting the foetus so any other ailments would have been left to their own devices. 

So, after feeling as if my immune system had packed up, a friend introduced me to aloe vera drinking gel as a way of getting healthy by cleansing the gut.  I started taking it daily, and soon my immune system seemed to be back on track – in fact, I still drink it daily, as I’m convinced that my physical strength and ability to overcome this biggest fight of my life has been helped a great deal by a strengthened immune system. 

But I digress.  Fast forward to that time in Disney, when I discovered the lump, I honestly hadn’t felt better in ages.  So how could I be seriously ill?  As many busy working mothers do, I pushed it to the bottom of the priority list and got on with my busy life.  I only see the doctor when I’m feeling sick.  Which was not the case."

Have a question for Emma? Write to us at readers@gulfnews.com

This is a weekly blog, by Emma Rymer. Emma is a long-time UAE resident, employed in a private sector firm. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and was cleared by the doctors as completely cancer-free in early 2018. She writes this weekly blog in the hope that other women or men going through the same process can find strength and resilience from her journey. Emma lives in Dubai with her family.