About Me
I am Adeeba Timal and I am 33 years old. I am a teacher, wife (married to my high school sweetheart), and mom of 3. My boys are 2, 4, & 5. I am a first generation Canadian; my mom immigrated from Guyana and my dad from Bangladesh. My cultural background is East and West Indian. I am a busy mom tending to my kids most days while my husband is working at his business. We live in a beautiful lake town and enjoy spending lots of time at our local beaches.

My Breast Cancer Story
Last June at 32 years of age, I was having my routine physical after missing a year or two due to Covid. At this time, my youngest had just turned 1, and I was still breastfeeding him. During my breast exam, my doctor noted I had a rather large lump on my right breast. I had never really checked my breasts. My breasts were an E cup and with breastfeeding, I didn’t want to be touching my breasts more. My doctor said it was most likely nothing, but based on how large it felt she wanted me to go get an ultrasound. I proceeded to get an ultrasound at Southlake Hospital within the week, and since I had the app, I was able to read results noting that the mass seemed suspicious and should be biopsied. My doctor sent a referral to get the biopsy, and in July I had my appointment to get it done. I was lying there ready to have the biopsy when the doctor doing the test examined me and said, “based on how young you are and the fact that you’re breastfeeding, I don’t think this test is necessary. It may cause a milk duct to tear and on the ultrasound the shape doesn’t seem like something serious. You’re too young.”

I proceeded to tell the doctor my son was a toddler and not reliant on breast milk so I would be fine weaning, but he insisted to let it be and follow up in a few months if anything changed. I went home that day disappointed in not knowing, but relieved thinking it was nothing to worry about. Between July and August, I noticed many changes on that same breast, including redness and dimpling. I contacted my family doctor again and told her my concerns. She then sent the referral again to have a biopsy ASAP.

The day of my biopsy came, and immediately I knew this was something serious. I could tell by the look on the doctor’s face. Luckily, it wasn’t the same one from before. I did the biopsy, and immediately got sent for a mammogram, then back for another ultrasound under my right armpit. All of this happened within a few hours, and I knew right then that it was cancer. Resources wouldn’t be wasted on “nothing to worry about.” Soon after going home, I received a call to go back in for another biopsy but this time for a lump under my right armpit. I spent the rest of the summer knowing my biopsy was “malignant” but didn’t get officially diagnosed until September 6 2022 (The day after my wedding anniversary and the day before school started).

I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma with metastasis in the lymph nodes. Once I was diagnosed everything went fairly fast. I weaned my youngest immediately and luckily had no issues and then began all the pretesting. Going from being a busy mom who barely had time to get my nails done to having multiple appointments every week was overwhelming. My treatment plan started with chemo, 4 rounds of doxorubicin and 4 rounds of taxol. I tried not to look at myself in the mirror as I went from a thriving 33 year old to having no hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and looking like death. I finished chemo January 10, 2023, then went on to surgery.

In my case, I decided on a double mastectomy instead of just removing the right side. In my mind having one large E cup breast made no sense and would affect my back. My double mastectomy with removal of lymph nodes went well on February 21. After about 6 weeks of recovery, I went on to my last step of active treatment: radiation. I began 16 rounds of radiation in April and had my last session on April 28 2023.

My pathology report determined there was no evidence of disease (NED) and I have just begun my journey with hormonal therapy. Due to my young age and the fact that my cancer was ER+, I have suppressed my ovaries to put me in a state of menopause. I am also on Exemestane.

The last few months have been a whirlwind, and I think I am still trying to process all that occurred. I was so thankful for the help of my family, daycare and my boys’ school during my treatment. I will continue hormonal therapy for as long as I can tolerate and try to move forward in the best way. My next step will hopefully be reconstruction in the next year, once my skin is healed.

I Want You to Know
The Indian community has a lot of pride and emphasis on their reputation and how they look to others. Please know that taking care of yourself and getting regular checkups is important. It is so easy to judge our health based on our ability to work and go through daily activities, but having basic checkups is so important. Having cancer is also not something to be ashamed of; it is not anyone’s fault and sharing our journey helps educate so many women. We need to let go of the mentality that if we look the other way then nothing is wrong. Breast cancer is not always genetic and the options for treatment are vast; it is not a death sentence.

Having breast cancer does not define a person, they continue to be a wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandma, regardless of their diagnosis. While we may lose a lot of elements of our femininity, we are still feminine. It definitely makes you reevaluate your priorities in life and make better choices for your lifestyle.

I want you to know, regardless of how busy you become taking care of everyone else, do not forget to take care of yourself. If we as women do not take care of our health and advocate for ourselves, we are not able to care for anyone else. Make your health and wellbeing a priority, this is especially true for any mothers of young children, who are in a season where they feel like they have no time at all.

Diagnosed at 32