Max Furdan, Dubai resident

“I was 24 years old at the time.

I used to feel something in my chest; it was not a comfortable sensation. I did not feel any pain and I walked around with this discomfort for around two to three months and in my mind, [the discomfort] was growing bigger. So I underwent a check-up. The doctor did not tell me anything directly. Instead, he said, ‘You will have to call your family.’ So I said, ‘It’s okay, you can tell me. Because I cannot call my father, or mother, to tell them there is a problem.’

He then said, ‘You have breast cancer’. That was in 2012.

My first thought was, ‘How can I break this news to my family?’ Breast cancer is not something that happens to men or that’s what I believed. But when it happened to me, I realised that it can affect men too.

I underwent many tests, MRI, biopsy, mammogram ... the cancer, in my left breast, was in Stage 2. My grandmother, maybe, had breast cancer, but I don’t remember any family history of the condition.

I was given different medications, chemotherapy, followed by surgery to remove the breast, left. More chemo sessions followed and finally, there was an MRI scan to check if the cancer was gone. Two years ago, I was declared cancer-free.

My advice to men is, if you feel the slightest change in your breast area, however small it may seem, don’t wait. Go for a check-up. Believe in yourself. Stay positive.”

Madhusudan, Dubai resident

FTC ZULEKHA CANCER Madhusudhan-1572021095509

‘I had been aware that there was a lump in my left breast for a period of six months but I did not give it much thought. In my mind, breast cancer happened to women only. Eventually, I decided to go for a check-up. At the hospital, I saw a few men who had also come in for a check-up and I realised that men too can get it too.

After the [cancer] was diagnosed in July 2018, I underwent a mastectomy. A PET scan was done prior to the surgery to check if the cancer had spread. The tests came back negative. It was localised to the left breast and the lymph node only. Two months on, the scarring healed and the chemotherapy began. I had eight chemo sessions, 15 radiation doses and 52 weeks of hormone treatment. By January 2020, I will also have taken 18 injections of Herceptin.

Throughout this experience, my family was of great support, right down to adjusting to my diet and taste sensations that were affected due to chemotherapy. My family was also counselled by the doctors.

If you start thinking too much about your sickness, it will affect you more. Instead, learn to face it. It will help you recover faster. I would drive my car, do household chores like cleaning, washing clothes. In the initial stage of the chemo, I did stay home for a week but that was to avoid catching any infection.

I did not cover my hair, and when people asked me about it, I told them I was changing my look.

About a family history of cancer, my maternal grandmother had breast cancer, my aunt too and one of my maternal uncles also had cancer.

My advice to men is to stay aware and not ignore any signs. We have great facilities in the UAE. There is nothing to worry about.”

— By Malavika Kamaraju, Features Editor