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My children are the motivation for me to fight against cancer

Relatives advised me that I should wear a toupee in order not to scare my children but I decided to tell them the truth “I have a disease making my hair lose, when I recover they will be back.” Gradually, they understood my illness and they also helped me go through the difficult time. Their love is the stronggest motivation for me to fight against breast cancer.

I am Le Thi Ngoc Anh, born in 1976, in Thanh Hoa.

In May of 2012, my friends and relatives shared my happiness when I received the Master’s degree. During that time, because of thinking that I would rarely have the second chance to come back Ha Noi, I decided to have health screening. When I had done breast ultrasound, the doctor told me that I had a tumor. This tumor did not have clear boundary and edges therefore there was high possibility that it could be a malignant tumor. The doctor also advised me to examine again in a specialized hospital. I cried much in the ultrasound room because the suddenness of this result had made me so depressed and scared.

At the end of June 2012, after a lot of examinations and tests in dozens of clinics and hospitals, I received the fact that I was diagnosed in the stage 2 of breast cancer in K hospital – Hanoi. One week after the 75 – minute surgery in K hospital, I was depressed again when the bandage was removed and I realized that I only had one breast remaining.

After undergoing the first chemotherapy, I anticipated the day I had my hair lost. At the 15th-16th day of treatment period, I gently scratched the hair and was glad because it was just a little shedding. However, at the 19th day, all my hair had fallen out. When my children saw my appearance, they were very scary. Relatives advised me that I should wear a toupee in order not to scare my children but I decided to tell them the truth “I have disease making my hair lose, when I recover they will be back.” Gradually, they understood my illness and they also helped me go through the difficult time. Their love is the strong motivation for me to fight against breast cancer.

My youngest son had got into the habit of touching my breast when sleeping. Suddenly, one day he realized and asked me “Mom, where is one of your two breasts?” I explained him that I had a disease so that the doctor had removed one, it would reappear when I recover. I felt funny when he kept asking “why does it take so long for your breast to come back?”

 Occasionally, my last-born son also teased me “I will tell everybody that all your hair was lost.” Sometimes, he yelled loudly to scare me “Hey guys, there is a bald head woman here.” However, when someone asked about me, he hid my story and just told that his mom had got sick. I was happy because my son had known how to protect and love his mom in his own way.

After 2-year treatment period with eight-time receiving chemotherapy, now my hair grows back in another form – short hair. I think this hairstyle is quite right for me but the most important thing is that I feel more confident about not wearing the toupee in school. I have lived happily and never think about the fact that I was suffered from cancer. I believe that life is a journey and there are lots of fun and joyment waiting for me in the way. My happiness will spread out to people surrounding me so I just need to smile and everything will be all right.

Story of Ms. Le Thi Ngoc Anh.

Photographed and recorded by Ms. Nguyen Thi Xuan (1991).