On 20 June 2020, my mother died of leukemia, after having defeated breast cancer more than 20 years earlier.
It was on a sunny autumn day in 1998 when my mom felt a lump in her left breast. As a doctor, she knew what it was, but she didn’t understand why mammography screening several weeks earlier had shown false-negative results. A subsequent screening at the local hospital revealed stage II-A breast cancer that had already spread to lymph nodes.
As a kid, I still remember my mom’s reaction. Her biggest fear wasn’t to die of cancer; it was who would take of her children. She started chemotherapy – six infusions over three weeks – followed by 25 days of radiation treatment, and finally surgery for breast removal.
My grandmother had taught me to pray for a miracle, so I encouraged my little sister to pray together for our mom’s survival. We believed that maybe our strong love would help her survive. Indeed, a couple of months later she was back to normal life: her work, kids and family.
Twenty years later, one day while working as a pediatrician, she started feeling fatigued. She blamed her age and lack of sufficient rest after work. As her health worsened, I took her for a checkup, but doctors couldn’t figure out why she was losing weight and feeling weak. They did a biopsy, and a few days later she was diagnosed with leukemia.
Yet her oncologist was not able to determine which type of leukemia she had – or the right chemotherapy to prescribe. It was so painful to see my mom spending most of her time in hospitals, trapped by stress, fear and frustration, with the COVID-19 pandemic making everything worse.
This time, my mom could not beat cancer. She died only three months after burying my father, who had also died of cancer.
This is why NeoLab AI is so important to me. My mother is one of many millions of women whose cancers were not detected in time. Therefore, we have dedicated our mission not only to her – but to all women struggling with breast cancer.