PINKTOBER with Tina Chagoury

For some people October is the month of hope education, and celebration, whereas some celebrate strength and survival, while others educate and get educated about the realities of breast cancer, which is why on Oct 12, 2021 AUSMUN held their “Pinktober” event via Zoom platform with Clinical Dietician and breast cancer survivor Tina Chagoury.

To start off, the Secretary Deputy Anaam Noushad welcomed the attendees and stated why such a session is important, she stated that it is essential to spread awareness about Pinktober which was initially founded in 1985; “This is why I gathered all of you here today to create awareness among us and to help people around us,” she added. Anaam then introduced the guest speaker, Tina Chagoury, and the platform was handed over to her.

Ms. Chagoury expressed her happiness and excitement to be with AUSMUN during that evening to spread awareness among the young community because she believes that it's the place where awareness has to be spread the most. Chagoury sees that it’s

important to educate people not only on her journey but the realities that come with it, whereas she said “I am so glad that October has been busy for me and for others like me. I am so happy to see that so many companies are now active when it comes to breast cancer awareness.”

After giving the attendees an introduction about herself, Chagoury shared her experience with breast cancer. Tina Chagoury was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in 2019 and went through immediate treatment, she had to undergo two types of chemotherapy but because she was able to build her diet before she was diagnosed, her immunity was strong which decreased her chances of becoming sicker. She further explains this by saying “I’ve always been healthy; being healthy can increase your chance of survival and lower its re-occurrence.” Chagoury also mentioned that no matter how healthy you are, you still can get sick. She added, “breast cancer does not discriminate with age, health, gender,” emphasizing why it’s always important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and always check up no matter how skeptical one can be.

Noushad then started the question-and-answer session, needless to say that questions were flooding in from everyone with curiosity and the need to be informed close by. Questions and answers are as follows:

1) Was radiation therapy painful?

Ms. Chagoury stated that it doesn’t hurt at all but it depends on the location of the cancer itself.

2) What is the best way to support someone who’s battling breast cancer?

Chagoury answered, “Just be there whenever they need you, do not over do it because sometimes they need to be alone… many patients do not feel like talking and any sound near them would make them dizzy.” She used to enjoy being alone because she was going through a lot of hard times and was overwhelmed but also considered it to be her “me time.” She refused to have a group of people because she wanted to stay focused on her therapy and the doctors’ instructions.

3) What was the most painful thing about your experience with breast cancer?

To her, the dose dense protocol was one of the toughest parts in all of this, because it causes a lot of body pain in addition to digestive problems. The whole journey was the most difficult of course, but mostly so because he had to explain to her kids why she’s changing and why she had to go a lot to the hospital. Chagoury’s advice for this is to be very transparent with the kids and tell the things the way they are and what the possibilities are because that helps them understand, accept, and get over it.

4) Should young teenagers get checked too?

There are standards of the checkups depending on family history and other factors; however, young teens have to be educated and know that it’s normal to be checked, she answered. She then added saying young adults closer to their 20s should feel a need to check and the best time is the third day of the period where the breast is at its normal status.

5) Do you feel this huge obstacle you faced was necessary for you to gain the knowledge you have today?

She answered, “Yes, I was asked today how has this has changed you and sometimes you feel that traumas that happen in your life and situations like these put a light in your brain, some things are there but you can't see them, you don't know you have them, and then when this happens and you realize you don't have time and you realize anything can happen anytime and when you have things you have to do them; this is where you get bravery from, you get fairness, you can die anytime, this cancer can come back anytime, you ask yourself will I sit and wait for it? Or will I go after the things I want to do and achieve them and at least have the life I want to have? So definitely this is the thing that changes, it unleashes your inner self.” Chagoury further explains her gratitude for breast cancer for taking her to places it has never taken her before.

Throughout the entire question-and-answer session, Ms. Chagoury provided perfect answers that dove deep into the hearts of the audiences. She even explained how pessimistic people can get, and provided very memorable advice, “don’t let anyone’s story put you down… don’t tell cancer patients stories with tragic endings.”

Tina. Chagoury is a true warrior who went through a lot of hard times and was trying to cope and put her life all together, she was able to beat breast cancer and become an inspiration not only to cancer patients but to all people that know of her battle.

“Always remember that life is 10% of what happens to you and the rest is how you cope and react. You determine your survival strategy, be strong because we all believe in YOU.”

-- Tina Chagoury.

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