Marina Sulaiman, Ummah Today’s Editor recently interviewed me on my cancer journey, and wrote an inspiring article.

A woman of strength, battling cancer in midst of the pandemic By Marina Sulaiman, Ummah Today

“A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong,” said Naliza Fahro Rozi, a breast cancer survivor, recalling her cancer recovery journey that began two years ago.

Physically and emotionally battered after fighting 49 battles of diagnosis, mastectomy and treatments in a war against cancer, Naliza may not be as strong as she used to be.
However, she strongly believes that she can build herself to be a woman of strength and in her journey facing the imminent death.

Naliza was diagnosed with HER2 Positive Breast Cancer in February 2020, just days before COVID-19 hit the Malaysian shores. In March 2020, she underwent mastectomy, just days before Malaysia declared the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Naliza endured 16 cycles of chemotherapy, 15 fractions of radiotherapy and 18 cycles of targeted chemo over 18 months.

“The road to recovery will not always be easy, but I will take it one day at a time. It does not matter how slowly we go, as long as we do not stop,”

“On the brighter side of things, the fact that we woke up this morning is proof that this day has already been predetermined in our favour. Because, it is an opportunity to embrace a new day and do new things,” she said with a hopeful smile.

Naliza believes that it is because God loves us that we are tested with trials and tribulations. This prepares us for what God had planned for us in due time.

She kept reminding that behind every test, there are blessings in disguise for those who keeps their faith to the almighty.

Recently, Naliza was elected as Vice President of Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia (BCWA) alongside her fellow cancer survivor friend, Kim Lim as President.
A tax-exempt charitable organization, BCWA aims to reduce the risk of premature deaths among women due to breast cancer and improve the quality of life for individuals affected by breast cancer through Community Outreach and Patient Supportive Care Services respectively.

Its activities include psychosocial support and counselling for newly diagnosed individuals and their family members, as well as rehabilitation and recovery activities for breast cancer patients so that they can return to a normal life again.

BCWA’s team of senior nurses offers Community Outreach Services throughout Malaysia to educate on breast health, conduct Clinical Breast Examinations on women, refer and navigate women for timely screening, and, diagnosis and medical treatment for breast cancer in local hospitals.

Through her role in BCWA, Naliza hopes to achieve three things:

• To improve access for affordable breast cancer care for patients and survivors in Malaysia
• To improve financial planning literacy in managing breast cancer for breast cancer patients, survivors and caregivers in Malaysia; and
• To educate breast cancer patients, survivors and caregivers on managing mental health and physical wellness through breast cancer survivorship strategy, LEARN to Live Well.

According to Naliza, as cancer treatments improve with advances in medical technology, the number of cancer survivors will grow. The advancements in cancer care has transformed cancer from a death sentence to a chronic condition.
“Life gets better for many cancer survivors”, Naliza enthused without a doubt.

That said, surviving cancer well requires long-term support. With a prolonged life span, millions more will have to learn, adapt and live a life forever altered by cancer.

These are the challenges faced every day by cancer survivors. Yet we draw hope in knowing that those challenges can be addressed.

Living with cancer does not mean that patients, survivors and caregivers are losing quality of life. As cancer awareness grows, so will the ranks of those who learn to enjoy life after a cancer diagnosis and treatments.

With experience behind her back, Naliza hopes to address the challenges of physical and mental wellness through her presentation, ‘LEARN to Live Well: Managing Mental Health and Physical Wellness Through Cancer Survivorship Strategy for Cancer Patients, Survivors and Caregivers’.

As the meeting comes to an end, she happily slid a word of advice to all who are battling or a survivor of cancer.

“Remember, even if we are medically diagnosed with illness, when we feel happy, we will feel well. So, keep looking at the brighter side of things, that silver lining in every cloud. Don’t forget, cancer is a word, not a sentence.”

Her unwavering spirit and her hopeful smile give the strength to hold her own future in battling the war of cancer.