[VIDEO] This Pakistani diplomat was diagnosed with breast cancer, but he made it his strength instead!

Not only did he bravely fight the disease, he became the voice of reason.

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In June 2013, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary, a famous Pakistani diplomat, was in Islamabad preparing to address a seminar when he received a call he had feared for weeks.

The doctors told Chaudhary, who at the time was the Spokesperson of the Foreign Office, and later served as the Foreign Secretary, that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Chaudhary stated that although it was a lot to take in, he remained calm and delivered the lecture as scheduled and then departed for the hospital where he received an unlikely diagnosis.

The doctors told Chaudhary that he had breast cancer, a disease that only appears in less than one percent of men.

As per the Pakistan Medical Association, the country has the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia. Nearly, 90,000 new cases are diagnosed yearly. It is more commonly seen in women as one out of nine women is likely to suffer from it; however, an early diagnosis can increase the survival rates up to 90 percent.

Chaudhary, who retired from the position of Foreign Secretary, is now working as Director-General for the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI). After his rare diagnosis, he became a strong voice for raising breast cancer awareness in Pakistan. His activism emphasizes the need for keeping a strong check on the symptoms to make easily diagnosis possible.

While talking to Arab News, Chaudhary stated “I decided to participate in breast cancer awareness programs as I felt it was my moral duty to tell my fellow citizens that it can be treated and defeated with early detection, courage, and determination,”

One of his central concerns is to ensure that proper awareness of the likelihood of the disease not only in women but also in men is spread.

“Anyone can get it and one should not feel shy about it and go for diagnostics if there is any unusual growth,” Chaudhary mentioned while stating that breast cancer was a lot more uncertain in men but because of the lack of dense breast tissue in men, cancer can immediately reach the ribs.

Chaudhary stated that he first saw a small tumor in his left breast in May 2013, which the doctor failed to diagnose properly and instead thought it was an allergy.

“I went to another doctor who conducted a fine needle test which proved that it was cancer,” Chaudhary stated. “This neglect of one month took my cancer from stage one to stage two and had it been a few more months, I may not have survived.”

“Cancer treatment is very expensive, especially medicines for chemotherapy are really costly,” he held. “Our [NORI] society provides free medicines to needy patients and residence and food to their attendants,” he mentioned. He said that Cancer hospitals are a necessity in Pakistan and the count of them is low.

Voice of reason

APP24-05
ISLAMABAD: December 05 – Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry speaks during a weekly media briefing at Foreign Office. APP photo by Asim Shigri

Chaudhary is the president of the Patient Welfare Society at the Nuclear Medicine, Oncology and Radiotherapy Institute (NORI), which is a cancer hospital located in the federal capital and operated by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).

Dr. Muhammad Faheem, a director at the NORI hospital while appreciating Chaudhary’s efforts, stated that he had played an incremental role in the gathering of donations and working on getting the hospital’s facilities improved.

“If you look into international statistics, breast cancer in males constitutes less than one percent,” Faheem mentioned. “In Pakistan, this percentage is higher, above three percent.”

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