This 32-year-old male model in Dubai survived breast cancer.
Maruf Azimov from Uzbekistan was diagnosed with the disease when he was just 24 (eight years ago).
He was married and had a three-year old daughter at the time.
So when the doctors at a local hospital in Tashkent where his family lives –broke the news that he has cancer, his world came tumbling down.
The model, who also suffers from epilepsy, said he had been ignoring the lump for a while.
“I never imagined, that I, as a male, would ever get breast cancer. I had noticed a lump on my left breast for some time. But I ignored it and thought it might be a side-effect to the medicines I was taking to treat my epilepsy.”
“But one day I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror and knew this was not looking good. I went to the local doctors. They did a string of tests including a Mammogram and Ultra sound.”
Hit hard with the news
Azimov said he received a call from the local hospital asking him to visit them along with his parents. “I refused to take my parents and went alone. I did not even disclose anything to my wife.”
The doctor informed him the bad news. Azimov was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and it had spread to lymph nodes. He had to have a surgery done as soon as possible.
“That is when I broke the news to my wife. She was crying and refused to believe this was happening to me. But we had to be strong.”
Azimov said an extensive surgery was done to remove the lump in his left breast and treat the lymph nodes.
And of course what would follow is a string of chemotherapy sessions. That is when he (Azimov) took the decision to move out of Tashkent and look for a job elsewhere. “I could not put my parents through the ordeal of seeing me suffer in pain during the chemo-therapy sessions.”
And so Azimov found himself as a full-time professional model in the UAE.
He did his shoots alongside chemotherapy sessions. “I braved through it all. The key was not letting my parents know I had cancer,” said Azimov who has till today not informed his parents about his cancer.
“Only my wife knows.”
Azimov is currently medication but has been cancer-free since the last three years.
Men can have breast cancer too
“I want to take the opportunity of the month of October which is dedicated to women mostly to raise awareness on breast cancer. But here I am, a male with breast cancer. So women do your checks regularly and men you too. Don’t ignore symptoms as cancer – breast cancer – can happen to anyone.”
Azimov is taking the opportunity to raise the awareness with a hike up the Wadi Shawka tomorrow (Friday, October 18) from 8 am until 1 pm.
“The idea is to give hope for those battling breast cancer and honour the survivors. But my key message is don’t ignore even the smallest of signs.”
Wadi hike to raise awareness
The wadi hike is being spearheaded by Lebanese expat Fatima Deryan, 26, who in May this year scaled the 8,848-metre Everest peak from the South Col terrain (from Nepal), becoming the first Lebanese woman from UAE to summit the peak.
“Friday is also the day when the month long Fitness Challenge kicks off in Dubai. But also I want to raise awareness for women to get themselves checked regularly.”
“At least 100 people are expected to attend the hike.”
Wadi Showka is one of the most popular trails in Ras Al Khaimah. The trail is 143 KM away from Dubai. You don’t need a 4X4 to get there, but that's only if you're planning not to drive further inside. The track can easily be found on GPS, just type “Shawka Dam” and you’ll find it.