Bandar Seri Begawan - When she was diagnosed with breast cancer over 10 years ago, former nurse Datin Paduka Hajah Rokiah binti Haji Zakiah remained calm and was determined to recover from the life-threatening disease.
Relating her story in conjunction with World Cancer Day celebration yesterday, she said she found out she had breast cancer when she noticed something unusual while lying in bed. "I detected a small lump, which has never been there before. As a nurse, I knew how dangerous it could be and its symptoms and the consequences if I delayed treatment," she said.
"This is why it is important for all women to have general knowledge of breast cancer. You have to examine your breasts monthly and take note of any irregularities.
"When I detected the lump, I was not sure myself, so I went to see a doctor in RIPAS Hospital immediately."
Doctors sent her for biopsy and the cancer was diagnosed and still in its early stage.
"It was hard to accept reality at that time but my pillar of support has always been my loving husband and family who were always there for me and supported me all the way."
She was given an option for surgery which was performed within two weeks and she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for almost six weeks and underwent radiotherapy.
'Although I was given the option for chemotherapy, I opted not to have it," she added.
Back in Brunei, doctors gave her tablets which she took daily without fail for the next five years.
"I was so determined to get better and always prayed to Allah the Almighty for good health. I wanted to see my children grow up and see my grandchildren. Although it was fate, t told myself, 'where there is a will, there is always a way', so I never gave up," she added.
After finishing her medication, she was given another set of medication to take for the next five years and she regularly visited a doctor although she had fully recovered.
Although the medicines had side-effects, she said she got over it after a few weeks. "I had nausea, lost my appetite and at one point felt a burning sensation on my limbs. But it was all worth fighting for because my aim was to recover," she said.
Determined to help other women in the country diagnosed with breast cancer, she was one of the pioneers of Brunei's Cancer Support Group.
"It is still going very strong and this support group was formed to give moral support to others who have breast cancer. We are also helping to disseminate information on breast cancer for all age groups, show how to perform self-examination and dispel misconceptions about the disease."
On the progress of cancer treatment in the country, she said a lot has changed. The Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam is very generous and strives- for the best for the people, especially in healthcare. A new state-of-the-art National Cancer Centre is taking shape and this will make cancer treatment more accessible for locals."
Giving advice to women in the country, she said regardless of age, they should always take care of their health and watch their food intake.
"When you suspect something is amiss, go and see your doctor immediately, and look for support from family members and loved ones.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin