A POSITIVE attitude has kept Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls on track to beating breast cancer.
Diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in 2010, the executive director of Femlink underwent a mastectomy, or breast removal, before going through a full cycle of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Although the cancer has disappeared, she has two years before she is cleared, and is considering a second preventative mastectomy.
A key to getting her through this difficult time, she says, was the support she received.
"I had fantastic family support, faith-based support, work support, and when I was going through chemo, my physician, who told me that although I would go through changes, it wouldn't totally knock me out," she said.
She continued to work as she was receiving chemotherapy, which she said was a massive help.
It kept her mind off the treatment.
She said a problem in Fiji was that people tended to lack understanding when it comes to cancer.
"We often get a lot of medical jargon, it scares people off," she said.
Ms Bhagwan-Rolls said that Fiji's conservative culture also made people reluctant to reveal their body to doctors, adding that a similar problem with men was those facing prostate cancer.
"Women need to remember that any type of lump can be cancerous and it is really important to get it checked."
She added there was no radiation treatment available in Fiji or in the Pacific.
"So we also need to invest more in the specialist training of medical professionals, and the equipment as well," she said.
Ms Bhagwan-Rolls said it was important for women to seek treatment.
"From what I've read, partners tend to miss the breasts more than the women themselves!" she laughed. "It is important that women are able to have access and a right to health, that is her choice, and she must realise that life goes on past a mastectomy."