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When I recall this time of my life, it still makes me break down.  It felt as if every appointment and every test result brought more bad news, and I felt so shocked, dismayed, terrified of the debilitating effects of chemo, you name it.   Not knowing what you’re dealing with or how to treat it, not being able to make plans, it’s the pits and you fear the worst. 

Thankfully, Dr Maharra knew just the right words and approach to calm my nerves and make me feel hopeful and positive.  She has an uncanny knack for being able to deliver bad news in such a way that you leave her clinic with a spring in your step! 

She even managed to make my husband feel more reassured. Go figure. 

I’m eternally grateful for having been referred to her, as she became my rock, and my advocate, and that is something everyone needs when facing such grim facts for the first time and trying to process all the fears and emotions.

Telling our son was not easy, but we had taken advice that it was best to be honest as children are so perceptive, and may blame themselves for mummy’s sadness. 

It was the absolute right advice as he had noticed me crying all the time, which I thought I had managed to keep hidden from him. ”

We reassured him that mummy would be fine – the medicine would likely make me feel sick and I would lose all my hair but that only meant that it was working.  And I would have to have my breast removed, but I could get another one if I wanted. 

The first thing he asked was to see the lump and to touch it – kids are so direct and uncomplicated, I’m forever in awe of my son and what a trooper he has been. 

Not once has he shown me how scared or upset he was; for such a young soul he has displayed such a mature attitude throughout my illness and treatment, staying strong for me, and it has made me so grateful and proud of him.

On December 16, a switch suddenly flipped in my mind and I grew angry and impatient to fight back, to stop feeling like a victim.  I told my doctors ‘bring it on, let’s throw the book at it’. 

I had literally reached rock bottom, had been told that my MRI had shown additional lumps in the left breast, meaning that breast saving surgery was no longer an option and I would now need a radical mastectomy, and that my right breast also had lumps which would need to be biopsied. 

I drove home in a haze, couldn’t reach my husband on the phone, went home to bed and cried, until suddenly I wasn’t crying any more.  I remember that moment so well, for it was the last time I felt self-pity or ‘why me’ and everything became so much easier after that.  It had been the longest 3 ½ weeks of my life, and had felt like months. 

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.