After a routine mammogram, Barbara Azzam was asked to return to her doctor’s office for a biopsy. While awaiting her results from the biopsy, Barbara also had her annual pap smear. On May 26, 2011, Barbara’s doctor delivered unexpected news – she had breast cancer. While dealing with this life–changing realization, her results returned from her other biopsy. Two weeks after her first cancer diagnosis, Barbara also learned she had endometrial cancer.
Barbara had difficulty finding a local cancer treatment center that could treat both her cancers at once. After making several calls, Barbara connected with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Chicago. After her initial consultation, doctors suggested Barbara undergo both surgeries simultaneously – a complete hysterectomy and total mastectomy on one side. She waited more than two months for her operation, but on August 4, Barbara finally had her life–saving procedure.
Throughout her journey, Barbara’s most difficult struggle was the change brought on by her dual diagnosis. Barbara owns her own business as a vocational counselor, and with the pre–operative consultations and follow-up meetings after her surgery in Chicago, coordination with her clients became demanding. I wanted to think I could deal with my cancer and move on without it affecting me, but that didn’t happen, shared Barbara. I had less energy. I was stressed with juggling work and travel to Chicago. It’s not something you can easily digest and move forward with, but you can get through it.
Barbara gathered strength from her Christian faith, family, friends, and fellow cancer patients. Their affirmation that God was in control gave her the power to continue her journey. Barbara also found solace in the memory of her mother, Helen Hudson, who passed away from breast cancer several years ago. As a breast cancer survivor, Barbara’s garden displays various shades of pink cosmos and petunias, a particular favorite of hers since she was a child. She also selected bright green coleus to represent her renewed life.
Barbara is now cancer free. She is the wife of Dick Azzam and the proud mother of two children – Katie and Ben. When asked what she wants her garden visitors to remember, she stated, Be your own advocate and maintain control of your healthcare. Don’t skip those annual exams. Stay positive, and always keep your sense of humor. Above all, keep God on your daily contact list.