Three and half years after Hira Ahmed-Tahir was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36, she and her family continue to show their gratitude to Lakeridge Health Foundation as monthly donors.
It all started when Hira had an unbearable itch, swelling and redness around her right breast area and immediately, her husband advised her to have it examined by a medical doctor.
The cause for concern was real, and after running a series of tests, Hira was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began chemotherapy in February 2020, completing 16 rounds at the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre.
Hira also had genetic testing at Lakeridge Health Oshawa. The genetic testing results revealed that she tested positive for two genetic mutations, which put her at a higher risk for developing breast cancer again. Provided with the knowledge that she could face another journey of challenging treatments should the cancer appear in her left breast, Hira made the difficult decision to undergo a bilateral mastectomy.
“All I could think about was that I had this cancer in me and I wanted it removed,” recalls Hira. “After I had my bilateral mastectomy in July 2020, the pathology results revealed that five out of eleven of my lymph nodes were cancerous. We knew it was the best decision.”
Hira was nervous about her chemotherapy because she knew her treatment would be aggressive. “My oncology nurse put me at ease,” Hira shares. “I remember the fear and the anxiety; however, my nurse was so calm and that helped me. My entire medical team were my superheroes; my medical oncologist Dr. J. Chang, my surgeon Dr. L. Wherrett, my radiation oncologist Dr. W. Koll, my oncology pharmacists and my oncology nurses.”
Hira’s family and friends were an important part of her support system. “I have a supportive network of family and friends including my husband Mubasher Tahir, my three daughters Noor, Hiba, Salma, my parents, my parents-in-law, my extended family and friends. I will be honest; it was a challenging time for all of us.”
During her breast cancer journey, Hira joined the Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Support Group at Hearth Place, a local cancer support centre. “At the support group, I connected with women who were also breast cancer patients at Lakeridge Health Oshawa. I am grateful for their support, understanding and advice.”
Hira completed chemotherapy in June 2020, and radiation therapy in September 2020. She has been on endocrine therapy since October 2020 in order to give her the best chance of survival. She will continue with this therapy for up to 8 years.
“We have this renowned Hospital and Cancer Centre just fifteen minutes away from our home in Oshawa. It is a blessing to have that,” says Hira, who explains that this is the main reason why the Ahmed-Tahir Family have chosen to become monthly donors to Lakeridge Health Foundation.
“I want to support what is close to my home. Lakeridge Health Oshawa is where my family, my neighbours and my friends will visit when they require medical care. When we continue to donate, Lakeridge Health Foundation will have the resources to help our entire community!”