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Oncology Professional Care 2024
21-22 May at ExCeL London

Oncology Professional Care is the must-attend, multi-disciplinary event delivering free CPD-certified learning for the entire oncology community.

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We are unfortunately unable to allow patients to attend this event


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Samina Hussain

Samina Hussain

Founder of Sakoon Through Cancer Charity, Sakoon Through Cancer
Mrs Hussain you have cancer!! These are the words I remember, nothing else at that appointment made sense. So many tests I was numb I had gone to Parapet Breast Screening Unit by myself and all I can remember is the nurse holding my hand and I was unconsolably sobbing and my heart hurt why me? I arranged for my daughter to asked if anyone was free to collect me as I was so lost, hubby came and the first words I uttered were “meri kismet karab” which in Punjabi means I’m doomed bad karma. My world fell apart I never expected to hear these words at the age of 45. After my initial screening appointment, I was told to go home to rest and the hospital would hold a multi-disciplinary team(MDT) meeting where my case and treatment plan would be discussed agreed by clinicians. That time was so hard and I very was scared, I did not know what to expect, I felt like a lost sheep I could not explain how I felt. My husband and children knew of my diagnosis, but I just was not ready to share as I had not fully comprehended what I had just been told. Overnight my world changed and I was about to start a new role in September but I was diagnosed in August 2015 with stage 3 cancer. I started to contemplate retracking my acceptance of the role but I had a compassionate manager who said start and we will support you with what you need. One of the most challenging parts of this journey was the realisation of being the only Asian woman in chemotherapy waiting room and the fact that I never saw another Asian woman, I started to think maybe Asian women do not get Breast Cancer and this is unusual, but later learnt from the nurses that they do and often the woman present late so some of the treatment options are not appropriate and have poorer outcomes. If I did see the odd woman that looked like me, she would not make eye contact just use the cold cap and put her headscarf back on with no small talk. How can anyone navigate a lifechanging experience without any support. I needed a tribe to walk alongside me and hold space for me as I struggled along the journey at so many different points, with many a meltdowns. My biggest cheerleader was my daughter and husband, my daughter was incredible in her care for me alongside maintaining her university life, but she too said “this journey is tough mum and you are going to die”. I replied no! I may get hit by a bus, but cancer won’t kill me my jaan (darling). My strength came from prayer and a few quotes “Tie the Camel, so do everything in your control leave the rest to god” “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass its learning to dance in the rain”. No matter how hard each day was I had to dance in the rain and keep going! The other biggest sadness I had as a professional Asian woman living in Slough was that I never self-examined so was not Breast aware and no one had never said to me that I needed to. I was angry with me how did I get to age 45 with stage 3 diagnosis and not know about self-examination the embarrassment and shame was massive, how did I not know what do I do. I remember speaking to family here and abroad and I was told no one had been diagnosed with Brast Cancer in our family I was the first so no family history. Later I learnt the taboo of Cancer that people never shared so the family never knew. My coping strategy during active treatment was to share on Facebook my pictures and short story’s it’s here I learnt that south Asian woman did get Breast Cancer but were forbidden to speak about it. A few women shared how their mothers died but they were told by the family not to discuss, when I shared my story, they thanked me as it gave them the opportunity to grieve their loss of the trauma they experienced. I was taken back even more than my own diagnosis as I kept thinking how this can be possible, but it was true and more woman connected with similar stories. I quickly realised Cancer was given to me for a reason to shine a light on the inequalities south Asian woman face. Cancer was good for me, as all my life I was the caregiver but now I can put a protective ring around me and focus on me with self-compassion and self-love which was missing in my life as a hard-working Asian woman, mother, grandmother sister and daughter cultural norms just meant good girls don’t be selfish. I needed to change things up and start rising positive mindset, diet wellbeing and nurture was my priority. Love myself making different choices to live a much simpler life full of gratitude, saying No was easy. Suddenly doors opened that assisted my new way of living and nurturing. I put on 20KG in body weight during chemotherapy I was slow and sluggish felt and looked like a sack. I knew the weight would come off after treatment finished but I also knew I needed help to find my signature style so I embarked on a style coach with I Got Style, the business name just spoke to me and it felt like what I needed. I loved shopping in my wardrobe but actually finding my passion and flair to create outfits putting things together in a bright and comfortable way which endorsed modesty but gave me a shape , colour and style. It was transformational when I look back, it was small add in’s accessories that made the biggest difference so no big expensive shopping spree. Thats what I always thought style consultants did. Claire and I spent a lot of time talking about under garments as after my surgery I could not get the right bra to fit and settled for sports bras. Claire suggested Bravismo who specialise in bras. An uplifting experience as I was always told from a young age to go to M&S and be measured. Bravissimo take one look no measurements and say how does that feel, their moto is “you would not measure milk with a ruler”. All made sense !! and my English and Asian attire just looked amazing well shaped and comfortable. I was no longer hiding or ashamed of my body I felt proud of my body and the transformation in my style made me owned it and love the choices I made around colour and choosing items that suited my body shape. At last I could wear clothes that complimented my shape and yes I lost weight too and my new hair style had me rocking like a queen bee! All my life I’d always felt the need to hide and not shine brightly. Culturally I confused modesty with wearing two sizes bigger in clothes and no colour….. so I was never seen. My cancer diagenesis changed that with the support of a style session with Claire from I Got Style. Losing my hair from chemo was a visible change but loosing my eyelashes just made me so aware of how much they protected my eyes as my eyes were sore for days until they grew back, I remember chemo strips the good and bad cells in you so you lose your nails sight defected and hair loss. After going through the trauma of cancer I ended up with a blood clot due to my pic line, so spent 6 weeks in the hospital and also there were several times when I had neutropenic in between chemo sessions, the fun of being on the journey. I learned a lot, and met some amazing people during the journey the biggest lesson I learned was when you take from a system learn how to give back. The positive outcome was this story started with a pair of chemo socks knitted by my dear friend from this realising how much I warmth and joy they brought me, my friend and I set up Knit Your Socks Off, which today has a massive social media presence and has made thousands of items for charities as acts of kindness. During my journey, I gained so much insight into taboos and inequalities of South Asian women going through adversity and Cancer in Slough so I decided to own it and set up a Charity called Sakoon Through Cancer, Sakoon means peace and tranquillity and gives other women like me a platform to be heard in a safe space to nurture themselves and gain support to share their story. In 2024 we are going to smash out the taboos and gain partner agencies to hear our voices as a collective. I am sit on the Woman’s Health Collective which delivers the Woman’s Health Strategy, I am passionate about speaking up and giving others the platform to do so! I have connected with so many women across Slough Berkshire, nationally and internationally my mission is to normalise the conversation on Breast Cancer, giving other woman the confidence to speak up and say its ok not to be ok there is no shame in Cancer. My legacy would be to break the taboo’s, challenge the bias and give woman the platform to process their journey and tell their stories. A published book of stories and anecdotes with images that capture our story’s of hardship, the trauma and our deep journey’s together as a collective, one step at a time and we celebrate our successes by having our very own talk show. My vison is to create a Woman’s Cancer Hub that is a safe space, led and run by South Asian women to ensure their needs and supports coproduced innovative and very different, a positive high-quality environment that empowers the woman to surround themselves with the supportive tribe that hears them and sees them. You are never alone and it's good to talk!!