Fox 5’s Ayesha Khan shows glimpse of her breast cancer chemotherapy treatment
BETHESDA, Md. – Self-exam, get a mammogram, and stand up for your health.
That’s the message from FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan, who at 40 faces her toughest assignment yet.
Ayesha takes over the second installment of the “Cancer: Fight over Fear” series, where she recounts her experience with ongoing chemotherapy treatments.
The account below is a continuation of her personal story which she hopes will help raise awareness at the DMV about early detection and promoting regular medical checkups.
A diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer in July 2021 led me to undergo a single breast mastectomy in October. A decision that was necessary so that the growing tumor found in my right breast would not spread to other parts of my body.
It’s a pretty big operation that took two surgeons and about three hours.
As I was resting and recuperating from the mastectomy I was thinking, this must be it, the cancer is now out of me and I can go back to work, telling stories again.
“Any breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes,” explained my breast surgeon, Dr. Colette Magnant of Maryland Oncology Hematology.
And that’s what happened in my case once my pathology reports came back.
Which meant the cancer went from stage two to now three.
“Because you’re thin, the tumor was close to the skin and because there were two tumors there,” Magnant continued.
“So the combination of these factors meant that we had to remove a fair amount of skin from the breast. We wanted to remove the cancer with surrounding normal tissue, as this gives us the best prognosis in terms of local non-recurrence.”
At the time, it was like the worst-case scenario kept coming true.
Sobbing like a child had become a daily part of my daily reality due to the long road I might have to face to need chemotherapy.
My brother Zeshan and I got the opinion of four other doctors, hoping that maybe one of them would be in favor of not needing chemo – and that’s surely the plan I would opt for .
Cancer: Fighting fear pt. 1 Fox 5’s Ayesha Khan shares her ongoing experience with breast cancer treatment
Zeshan, was my rock and someone I leaned on a lot during this time. He spent hours researching all sorts of other possible treatments and medications that could possibly save me the road to chemo.
But all doctors’ opinions pointed out that it takes 16 rounds of what is basically poison.
None of the doctors sugar coated anything, nor did I expect them to.
I was told that the first four cycles of the treatment are high dose and will be the hardest with side effects.
Many of these side effects for me included losing a lot of hair, nail color changes, immense fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, hand and foot syndrome, brain fog, flushing heat, insomnia and constipation.
“We have better drugs for things like nausea and neuropathy, and things in the past that weren’t treatable at all,” said Dr. Nichols Farrell, my oncologist who works at Maryland Oncology Hematology.
“Chemotherapy is a huge group of drugs that we use to treat cancer and different people have different experiences with it, but a lot of people do quite well with chemotherapy. It’s mostly about managing the side effects. and I think we manage side effects much better than we did in the old days,” Dr. Farrell added.
It doesn’t stop at chemo for me. Due to the type of cancer I have, I will need six weeks of daily radiation therapy, followed by ten years of targeted hormone therapy. In the meantime, I will need reconstruction at the mastectomy site.
I am confident in my chemotherapy treatment, but my case may not be representative of what other breast cancer patients face.
My doctors said the prognosis was excellent. My body responded very well to the treatments for a very curable diagnosis.
I find it very therapeutic to be able to share this experience which spanned eight months. But beyond that, I use this public platform to help raise awareness, in addition to providing information on resources and ways to help people who are going through a similar health setback.
I will share the information I have gathered on managing wellness and mental health in addition to the resources available during treatment which are all under one roof at the Aquilino Cancer Center where I am currently being tested.
Tune in on Thursday, February 24 for Pt. 3 of the Cancer: Fight over Fear series.