It was at Ocean Road that I met Muzne Abubakar Haibar, a sweet and gentle mother of four. Nearly 40, Muzne comes from Zanibar, a picturesque gem of an island known for its beautiful beaches and stony city center. About three years ago, Muzne discovered a lump in her breast, and quickly sought medical treatment. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer at Ocean Road in 2008, and had a partial mastectomy, or lumpectomy, performed at the time. Muzne immediately followed this treatment up with chemotherapy, and signs appeared positive that doctors had removed all cancerous tissue.
Unfortunately, the cancer returned months later, as Muzne began to experience deep pain within her chest. Her doctors then opted for a full mastectomy and a further regimen of chemotherapy.
“I thought I was ok then,” she explained, recounting the experience of losing a breast to surgery. Muzne told me about the toll that her cancer had taken, not just on her body but on her family as well. Since Zanzibar is a three-hour ferry ride to Dar es Salaam, she needed to be away from her family for weeks at a time for surgery, chemotherapy, and recovery.
Her fight took yet another unfortunate turn for the worse when doctors discovered that her cancer had metastasized, or spread, to her spine. The day we met, she began to receive radiotherapy, and still seemed hopeful that she would pull through.