Muslim mum wants to break breast cancer taboo

Breast Cancer Care studio photoshoot with Muna Ausat.
Breast Cancer Care studio photoshoot with Muna Ausat.
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When Muna Ausat was diagnosed with breast cancer at 47 she was determined to be open with her family, unlike her mother had been with her diagnosis.

“My husbands family are from Pakistan and because of our Muslim faith, talking about bodies are not really the done thing – especially not a woman’s body. So my husband was having to explain it using innuendos and said I was sick in the upper chest area,” she explained.

Breast Cancer Care studio photoshoot with Muna Ausat.

Breast Cancer Care studio photoshoot with Muna Ausat.

“I made the decision to be present during my diagnosis. I had read that a lot of people went into shock and struggled to take anything in. So I made sure I was there and asking questions.

“When we got home, I told my three sons – who were then aged nine, 15 and 17 – right away.

“Most parents’ instincts are to protect their children, so there was always going to be some reservation about telling them.

“But I’ve always told mine I would always be honest with them and never lie. It wasn’t something I discussed with my husband prior to it. But I told them they didn’t have to be strong; it was my job to do that,” the mother-of-three added.

Breast Cancer Care studio photoshoot with Muna Ausat.

Breast Cancer Care studio photoshoot with Muna Ausat.

Muna’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Muna was only five-years-old, but this was kept a secret from her until she was 17.

“I knew my mother was sick, being in and out of hospital. But it wasn’t until I was 17 I found out what it was with. Sadly my mother passed away just days before my 19th birthday and five weeks before I moved to university – so it’s always been a part of my life.”

When her husband found a lump, Muna was already looking online before an official diagnoses came.

The importance of partners in cancer awareness is something Muna, who is an ambassador for Breast Cancer Care Scotland, wants to highlight.

Muna, who will be taking part in next weeks charity fashion show in Glasgow, said: “I was very open with my family, about how the lump was discovered – which was obviously a very personal thing.

“It’s something that more young people should know about, and how they can help their partners.

“There should absolutely be more education for young people. They get taught things like how to self-check, in the mirror. But young people should be taught other ways, in how their partner can help.”

Originally based in London, Muna and her family only moved to Falkirk in September 2014, on what she calls a snap decision – which her husband was initially against. On a visit to her brother in laws home, Muna told the taxi driver she wanted to move to Scotland for a fresh start.

After hearing this, her husband agreed to the move, not being able to get what his wife said out of his head and said “let’s go for it”.

Next week Muna will be taking part in the annual Breast Cancer Care Scottish fashion show, at the Radisson Blu hotel in Glasgow. The event raises funds for Breast Cancer Care Scotland and all the models have had a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Muna originally saw the London equivalent of the fashion show, and after tagging people from her support group in the post, she noticed the Scottish one.

“I decided to apply - I think it was two days before the closing date. I thought to myself what better way to show myself and to show people, that you can be a model even after you’ve had cancer.

“When I first went back to work, after the treatment, people were saying to me ‘you don’t even look like you’ve had cancer’. I’m generally a glass half full sort of person so I thought to myself I should shoehorn myself out of my comfort zone. I can’t jump out of a plane or anything like that, but this is something I thought I could be a good example and I wanted to be out there, showing that.

“So I’ve been raising money for Breast Cancer Care Scotland and working as an ambassador and getting out there and raising awareness.

“It’s important to make sure everyone has access to speak to somebody about what they’re going through, and for their families to have someone to talk to, so that’s mostly why I’m doing this.”

The fashion show will be presented by BBC presenter and Breast Cancer Care Ambassador Kaye Adams, who said: “I’m thrilled to be involved in the Breast Cancer Care Scotland Fashion Show again this year. This will be the fourth show I’ve presented and I’m sure it will be just as incredible as the others. A number of close friends of mine have been affected by the awful disease so it is a cause that’s really close to my heart. I can’t wait to see the models strut their stuff.”