Marriam Rehman: Breast Cancer and 6 months pregnant
“When we were told it was breast cancer, we were devastated” recalls Marriam’s husband, Mr. Rehman. “My wife’s first question to the doctor was, ‘Am I going to lose the baby?’”
Marriam Rehman was six months pregnant with her second child when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite all the odds being stacked against her, she wanted to fight for her baby’s life, just as she was fighting for her own.
A cancer diagnosis during pregnancy is a rare occurrence, affecting 1 in every 1,000 pregnant women. It is rare today for an expecting mother with cancer to be counselled to terminate a pregnancy, even though the decision to do so can often expand her options for treatment. And yet, every doctor Mr. and Mrs. Rehman consulted after her diagnosis, told them they would have to give up the baby.
“We went from one hospital to another in Lahore only to hear, time and time again, that Marriam would have to have an abortion before starting treatment.” Mr. Rehman explains. “This was a decision our hearts refused to accept. Especially so far along in the pregnancy. With one last hope, we made our way to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.”
Following a thorough check-up at Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Marriam, was told she would be able to receive treatment while pregnant. Then, after delivering the baby, she could undergo surgery. “We were thrilled at the news.” Mr. Rehman recalls. “What’s more, they said the hospital would cover the cost of her full treatment. I’m a factory worker. I would have had to borrow money, in order to pay hospital fees. Even then, I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford the high cost of cancer care.”
“My wife fought with cancer not just for herself but for the little life she carried. Her chemotherapy treatments were especially difficult and emotionally draining for both of us. We had imagined that we’d be buying clothes and preparing for the birth of our baby around that time. Instead we were battling cancer. But still, we were so grateful for this fair chance at survival, and for the treatment, which was paid for by generous donors.”
Marriam received chemotherapy for three months. The strength she showed throughout those harrowing three months surprised all the hospital staff who cared for her. In the end, Mr. and Mrs. Rehman were blessed with their second child, a healthy baby girl they named Haram. After Haram was born, Marriam underwent surgery to remove the tumour. In April 2019 she won the battle against cancer.
“At Shaukat Khanum Hospital we found the hope we’d lost with that initial diagnosis,” says Mr. Rehman “Now my wife’s only wish is that our children grow up to become doctors. She hopes they will help save the lives of others, just as the doctors here saved the life of their mother.”
Every year, at Shaukat Khanum Hospital, we witness so many ‘hopeless cases’ where poor cancer patients, like Marriam, beat cancer against all the odds. Their recovery is possible through the will of Allah (swt) and your support. Thank you.
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